FC Cincinnati vs. DC United Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 7/31/21
FC Cincinnati plays host to DC United on Saturday night from TQL Stadium in Cincinnati in a crucial Eastern Conference tilt. This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams after DC United won and tied in the two meetings last year and FC Cincinnati continues to look for their first win against DC United in four tries. Both teams enter Saturday’s game on the outside looking in for the playoffs that’ll start this fall. DC United sits in eighth place, one spot out of the race, while FC Cincinnati sits in 12th place and looks to continue to slowly move up the standings and solidify themselves as more than just a basement dweller in the league. Expect both teams to try to start fast, especially considering how close the two teams are positioned in the Eastern Conference standings and wanting to make a run at a playoff spot.
Cincinnati Looks To Bounce Back
After a decent start to July that saw Cincinnati grab three draws in four games, a 3-0 loss to Nashville on the weekend was a pretty massive setback for a team that had finally found momentum for the first time in years. Being back at home will be a huge advantage, as they have found ways to get ties out of their last two home games and will at least have confidence that they’ll be able to grab the points being at home. Cincinnati sits in 12th place currently, on 13 points in 14 games and a minus-twelve goal differential. Sitting nine points behind Montreal for that final playoff spot, it’s clear how important every home game is for the team on the rest of the way out.
FC Cincinnati isn’t nearly as beat up as some teams in the league’s availability report as some teams but is still expected to be without five players for Saturday’s action. Calvin Harris (meniscus), Maikel van der Werff (sports hernia), and Zico Bailey (hip), are all expected to miss Saturday’s game with injuries. In addition to those three, they’ll also be without Ronald Matarrita and Allan Cruz, who are both out with international duty. With Cruz having contributed a goal and Matarrita three assists, the offense might take a slight step back, while the defense continues to struggle to find much consistency.
The good news is that Cincinnati will have Luciano Acosta available and ready to go. As the team’s leading scorer, he has four goals to go along with three assists on the year, and has been one of the most creative players in the league of late. Add that to three goals each from Alvaro Barreal and Brenner, and Cincinnati will have more offense than nearly every team in the league ready to go this weekend. The bigger issues are on the defensive side, in terms of consistency playing together in the back of late. Bailey, van der Werff, and Matarrita, have all been players seeing the field in the back this year and without them, a lot of pressure will fall on former European, Geoff Cameron, to hold things down in the bag against a dangerous attacking group from DC United.
United Look To Continue Strong Run
DC United has had an up and down season on the field due to injuries and international duty, but have been strong over the course of the last month, going 2-1-1 over their last four games. The road has been more difficult for them though, tying the last time out on the road against Chicago and losing to Philadelphia and NYCFC in the two road games prior. The travel has had an impact and being back on the road will make life difficult for the team. DC United sits only a game out of a playoff spot on 20 points in 15 games, two points back of Montreal for that last spot. DC United has dominated the series against FC Cincinnati over the last two years, even in just four games. They’ve gone 2-0-2 and will be looking to make sure they don’t drop their first game against them as MLS foes.
DC United has been one of the teams hit hardest lately with injuries and international duty, as well as a host of undisclosed issues. Edison Flores (hamstring), Brendan Hines-Ike (hip), and Adrian Perez (foot), are all expected to miss Saturday’s game with injuries. Adding to that, Paul Arriola and Donovan Pines have seen their Gold Cup experience extend and will continue to be away from the team through the weekend. As if those five weren’t enough to worry about, there’s a handful of players questionable as well. The biggest name is Steve Birnbaum, one of the leaders in the back, but Nigel Robertha and Kevin Paredes have two goals each and would be a welcome addition to the team. Paredes was able to play last weekend and should have a good chance at getting back on the field again on Saturday. Andy Najar is also questionable but started last week as well.
Ola Kamara is the leader on offense, leading the team with seven goals and an assist. Even with the numerous injuries and players on international duty, DC United will continue to be dangerous with their best weapon on the attack ready to go. The defense continues to be a major question mark for DC United, especially as Birnbaum continues to remain out. The good news is that with Bill Hamid at goalkeepers, they continue to have one of the most experienced keepers in MLS behind them and using his experience to help direct his juggled defensive back three, four, or five.
Pick: FC Cincinnati (+175)
Even though there are still quite a few points separating the two teams in the standings, Cincinnati’s home form and D.C. United’s away form leaves quite a few question marks for the away team. United is yet to lose to Cincinnati over the last two seasons, but Saturday presents a perfect opportunity for that to change. Cincinnati has their entire offensive firepower available and even though the defense is shaky, Geoff Camerone is already one of the best center backs in the league and can make sure the team is ready to go and the defense is compact. For D.C. United, they simply have too many injuries and too many players potentially out for Saturday’s matchup to keep pace on the road with the type of goal-scoring potential that Cincinnati can present.
Cincinnati has continued to score and allow goals in many games over the last few months and with the offensive and creative threats that they have healthy and ready to go on Saturday, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to score some goals. Both teams will be missing massive pieces in their defensive sets and that should lead to countless scoring opportunities for the two teams, especially given the talent that is still available on both rosters. D.C. United has plenty of depth to find scoring in their own right, but lack depth on the defensive side of things. Hamid is a great goalkeeper but there’s only so much that he can do when he’ll get peppered by shots. Expect goals and chances in one of the most exciting games this weekend has to offer in the MLS slate.