MLS

FC Cincinnati v Atlanta United: Noonan demands in-form hosts stay humble

By Sports Desk May 15, 2024

Pat Noonan will not let his FC Cincinnati team get too high following Saturday's memorable win over their rivals Columbus Crew, warning Atlanta United will offer them a stern test on Wednesday.

Cincinnati recorded a huge 2-1 road win over the MLS Cup holders last time out, with Kevin Kelsy and Luciano Acosta on target.

That victory – their fourth in a row – kept them three points behind Inter Miami at the Eastern Conference summit, but Noonan says any drop-off in midweek will be punished.

"The sign of a good team is when you have a poor performance or result, how do you respond to it and come back and have a better performance, or have a better result?" Noonan said.

"On the other side, when you have a good performance, how do you respond to that? Obviously, we have a short turnaround against a difficult opponent who we've just seen.

"If we don't turn it around the right way and if we're not prepared for Atlanta, we'll get humbled very quickly. Just like we can't get too low with bad performances, we can't get too high."

Atlanta, meanwhile, are 12 points behind Cincinnati in 10 th place, having been beaten 3-2 by D.C. United on Saturday.

They also lost 2-1 to Cincinnati when the sides last met in April, with two goals in two second-half minutes handing the Orange and Blue a comeback victory.

Asked what he would look to change ahead of Wednesday's rematch, boss Gonzalo Pineda said: "Simplify the message. It's about putting the players in a position to succeed, giving them tools, and the message that sometimes less is more."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

Acosta has scored in four consecutive games, tied for the longest goalscoring streak in MLS play in Cincinnati's history.

He also had a four-game streak last June while Brandon Vazquez did so between July and August in 2022. Will he break new ground on Wednesday?

Atlanta United – Thiago Almada

Almada scored from the penalty spot against D.C. last time out, with one of his five shots in the game.

He has recorded five MLS games this year with at least five attempts at goal, with only Denis Bouanga (eight) and Lionel Messi (six) having more. He also netted his team's only goal when they last faced Cincinnati on April 20.

MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

Atlanta are unbeaten in five all-time trips to Cincinnati in MLS, recording two wins and three draws there. Cincinnati are the only team the Five Stripes have visited more than twice without ever losing in MLS play.

However, Atlanta have only won two of their last 23 away games in all competitions (10 draws, 11 defeats) in a run dating back to late March 2023. No MLS team has fewer away wins in all competitions in that time.

Cincinnati have won their last four games and could set a new team record for successive victories here. With home advantage on their side, they are favourites to do so.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

FC Cincinnati: 45.4%
Atlanta United: 26.9%
Draw: 27.7%

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