New York City FC vs. FC Cincinnati Prediction, Preview and Odds-4/24/21
New York City FC plays their second game of the 2021 MLS season on Saturday as they play host to FC Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon from Yankee Stadium in New York. NYCFC is coming off a tough 2-1 loss on the road to DC United last week after being out in the first round of last year’s MLS Playoffs. On the flip side, FC Cincinnati fought their way to a draw with Nashville in their opener last weekend, after finishing right at the bottom of the MLS standings in both 2019 and 2020. NYCFC continues to use their experience of some playoff runs to set the bar high for their franchise, while FC Cincinnati is really just focused on stringing together solid results at this point. Which team will get the points in week two and continue to show fight in the Eastern Conference standings?
NYCFC Looking For Improvement
2019 saw NYCFC finish with the 2nd-best regular season record in Major League Soccer, but then take a fall back towards the pack last year. Last week’ 2-1 loss to DC United was a difficult pill to swallow to open up the season, especially after taking the lead early behind a Valentin Castellanos goal. NYCFC will be disappointed looking back on the game and seeing themselves get no points out of it, especially after outshooting DC United 12-11. The issue for the team was their consistency and staying sharp for a whole 90 minutes, especially after allowing two goals in a five-minute span and outplaying DC United for the majority of the game besides to end the first half.
Last year’s team saw Castellanos and Jesus Medina share the team lead in goals with seven, and with both still on the roster for this year, the offense shouldn’t take very long to start clicking. NYCFC has an impressive set of players that have made their way back to MLS, including Chris Gloster, Keaton Parks, and Gedion Zelalem. Gloster was an off-season signing from PSV Eindhoven who should combine with Parks (Benfica) and Zelalem (Arsenal) to form an attractive midfield and backline that will be difficult to match from an athletic standpoint across the league. As if the young talent wasn’t enough, Ronny Deila still has USMNT vet Sean Johnson holding down the last line of defense as a goalkeeper and Heber, the team’s leading scorer in 2019, still on the wing and ready to contribute when necessary.
One player to keep an eye on is homegrown signing James Sands, who has been a regular starter over the last two years in the backline and wants to work his way into a move to Europe. This year is crucial for him to show his versatility in the back and make his way into the higher-end youth national teams as well. NYCFC has moved away from using the draft to supplement the team and that shift should pay dividends this year as homegrowns move their way into more roles. With the increased continuity from the youth academy all the way to the senior team, while there might be some growing pains, the long-term payout will be huge as the backline of talented players start to learn to work together.
Cincinnati Looking To Avoid Historically Awful Start
FC Cincinnati has been a disaster ever since they stepped foot in Major League Soccer entering the 2019 season. While plenty of new teams have entered the league and made noise within the first few years, FC Cincinnati has found a way to continually be the worst team in the league over the last two years. Last week saw the team lead 2-0 after only 12 minutes, only to give the game back to Nashville and to only come away with one point from the game. Brenner and Luciano Acosta both scored last week on the only two chances they had on goal as a team. Nashville outshot FC Cincinnati 31-7 overall and 13-2 in regards to shows on goal, while corner kicks were 14- in Nashville’s favor. FC Cincinnati never even appeared in the game after giving the game back by the 65th minute and their performance is incredibly concerning as they start to take on much better competition as the season progresses.
FC Cincinnati has some impressive players on loan, including Gustavo Vallecilla from Aucas, Jurgen Locadia from Brighton and Hove Albion in England, and Franko Kovacevic from TSG Hoffenheim. The team also has some impressive homegrown players as well, including former youth international players Zico Bailey and Ben Mines, who scored some impressive goals for NYRB the last few years. Two of the most interesting players to keep an eye on are goalkeeper Cody Cropper and defender Joe Gyau. Cropper, a former Southampton development player seems to be a far way off from who he was in his younger days, while Gyau impressed with both the Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund, before injuries derailed his early career. Yuya Kubo led the team with three goals last year and Allan Cruz led with seven goals in 2019, and both will be back with the team this upcoming year.
The SuperDraft hasn’t been most kind to Cincinnati after the first few years, but selecting Calvin Harris in the first round this past January should give the team even more attacking options up front as the season progresses. FC Cincinnati has taken a different approach to the draft, trying to use it as a focal point of player acquisition and development, which time and again appears to be a poor strategy when comparing their draft success to many others.
Side Pick: NYCFC -1 (-110)
NYCFC made some amazing off-season additions, continuing to bring in young talent to help with the talent and depth levels of a perennial contender, and FC Cincinnati won’t be able to keep up. Nashville is far from one of the better teams in the league, and even they completely dominated FC Cincinnati in everything except the scoreboard last week. If NYCFC gets 31 shots up, the score will be much much worse than 2-2 and NYCFC will also be locked in defensively for a full 90 minutes on Saturday. NYCFC is yet to lose to FC Cincinnati over their two-year history, going 4-0 and winning by a combined score of 15-4. The talent level is far too much between the two teams for FC Cincinnati to keep up over the course of 90 minutes.
Total Prediction: Over 3
In the history of the series, three of four games have hit over three total goals and the fourth would have been a push. In addition, last week, FC Cincinnati hit over that number, while NYCFC pushed. NYCFC’s offense won’t be nearly as forgiving as Nashville’s, and allowing 31 shots by FC Cincinnati is a major concern and sign that NYCFC will have their way on the offensive side of things. NYCFC’s defense is a little inexperienced, so you can count on one goal from FC Cincinnati on Saturday, but overall for NYCFC to dominate every aspect of the game and play one of the highest scoring games of the weekend.