Playoffs on the line as NYCFC and FC Cincinnati drew 1-1

FC Cincinnati's Ronald Matarrita returns as NYCFC and FC Cincinnati drew 1-1 on September 7, 2022

QUEENS, NY – NYCFC and FC Cincinnati drew 1-1 at Citi Field on Wednesday night as the Pigeons maintain fourth place while the orange-and-blue hold onto that seventh and final playoff spot in the tight battle for Eastern Conference supremacy.

NYCFC and FC Cincinnati drew 1-1 at Citi Field

Early Mistake give FC Cincy the Advantage

While the opening minutes would see back-and-forth from both sides including a corner opportunity headed just wide by NYCFC’s Talles Magno in the eighth minute, Cincinnati would find an unconventional chance in the 22-minute. As Nicolás Acevedo passed the ball backward to Thiago Martins, the Brazillian turned and tried to pass back toward Sean Johnson.

However, the goalkeeper was well off his line trying to open up an angle. Also, a poor pass back from Martins was easily struck into the net giving Cincinnati a 1-0 lead on the NYCFC own goal.

 

NYCFC would quickly bounce back with a chance on goal in the 23-minute as they progressed upfield from the kickoff and Acevedo received a pass from Santiago Rodríguez now dribbling toward the box. About 20 yards outside the area and in a pocket of space, it would be Acevedo whipping a shot in which took a deflection and forced a diving save from Roman Celentano to keep the ball out of the bottom corner and Cincinnati ahead.

The subsequent corner from NYCFC wouldn’t bear an opportunity but by recycling the ball to Maxi Moralez who sent in a cross, Magno was able to get a header on goal and forced another outrageous diving save from Celentano.

NYCFC bounces back and ties the game

After several unsuccessful corner opportunities, NYCFC would find the equalizer in the 41-minute as a ball over the top of Cincinnati’s defense worked its way to Tayvon Gray on the right wing. Hitting a one-time cross, Gray would pick out Gabriel Pereira breaking at the near post for a simple header as Cincinnati’s defenders were left flat-footed to push the scoreline back even at 1-1.

The 45-minute would see two more shots, one from Acevedo and another from Pereira. Both hit directly at Celentano for easy saves and clearances which took this matchup to the halftime whistle.

Cincy Battle a Barrage of Shots to draw with 10-man NYCFC

The real first opportunity of the second half wouldn’t come until around the 72-minute with NYCFC passing around under pressure and finding Pereira with his back to goal just outside the box. As Cincinnati defenders flew past, Pereira would pick out NYCFC substitute Héber inside the semi-circle who turned and flung a shot on goal which smashed the crossbar and bounced off Celentano’s back for a corner.

The 75-minute would see a game-changing call made as Sérgio Santos broke the NYCFC defensive line with a great run and chased down a well-weighted pass from deep in the midfield. As Thiago Martins finally caught Santos, the striker would be tripped up sending both players to the ground with the referee immediately whistling for a penalty kick to Cincinnati and a red card for Martins.

However, with Martins officially sent off for committing a foul as the last defender, a review with VAR would change the initial decision slightly making the penalty kick instead of a free kick with the foul now being awarded as just outside the penalty area. With play finally resuming in the 79-minute, a free kick strike would be well parried by Johnson keeping the scoreline still at 1-1.

As 10 men remained on the pitch following the red card for NYCFC, Cincinnati would dominate the possession over the last 10 minutes with New York City committing multiple fouls for yellow card infringements. But the away side couldn’t crack the depleted home defense as both played out to a 1-1 draw in the dying minutes at Citi Field to the relief of the clearly exhausted NYCFC ten.

Last Word: Cincy retains playoff position while NYCFC’s struggles continue

NYCFC continues to manage some tough matches as the club has earned just one win and now two draws in the last nine matchups following the departure of Taty Castellanos. This includes yesterday’s game, where NYCFC and FC Cincinnati drew 1-1 at Citi Field. While they’re still in playoff position sitting fourth and will most likely clinch a playoff spot in the coming weeks, this doesn’t seem like a team that can make any noise in this year’s MLS Cup if they don’t turn things around quickly.

On the other side, this felt like an important point for Cincinnati who was led by a standout performance from their 21-year-old goalkeeper Roman Celentano and captain Matt Miazga.

Sitting in seventh place they’re just barely holding onto that final playoff spot heading into the last few weeks of the season but that lone point keeps Cincinnati above eighth-place New England in the standings as they get set to face San Jose at the weekend. Also, this is Ronald Mataritta’s first game back from injury. Matarrita last played for his club team, FC Cincinnati, on March 19, where they won 3-1 against Inter Miami CF.

Photo Credit: FC Cincinnati’s Twitter Account on September 7, 2022.