New York City FC fights back to draw 4-4 on the road in Cincinnati

Jun 29, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; New York City FC forward Heber (9) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against FC Cincinnati in the first half at TQL Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 29, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; New York City FC forward Heber (9) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against FC Cincinnati in the first half at TQL Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

On Wednesday, New York City FC continued their travels, and faced FC Cincinnati for the first time this season.  The Pigeons have never lost against the Orange and Blue, and looked to bounce back after the rough loss against the Philadelphia Union.

Unfortunately, the team was without Valentín Castellanos due to an illness and Santiago Rodríguez due to yellow card accumulation.  Plus, Thiago Martins was still out due to his ankle, and now Keaton Parks will miss time because of another surgery for a blood clot.  Additionally, Anton Tinnerholm was not with the team because of the birth of his daughter.

Despite all of the missing players, the team Nick Cushing put out had the potential to get the job done.  Alas, this is a different Cincinnati team this year, and there was even a moment the home side thought they would have their first win against the Bronx team.

Yet, for the first time in the club’s history, the Pigeons drew 4-4 with Cincinnati.  Defensive mistakes and a few brilliant goals led to the draw.

New York City FC drew FC Cincinnati 4-4, after a first half comeback

At first, everything that could go wrong went wrong for New York City FC.  To start, Cushing had to make a change early due to a leg injury from Maxime Chanot.  The defender slammed his leg into the side of the goal after a Sean Johnson error led to the first goal for Cincinnati.  Subsequently, he had to be substituted off.  This completely shook the defense, and led to two more goals being scored, with all three occurring in a period of 15 minutes.

Then, when handed a lifeline, midfielder Maxi Moralez could not capitalize on a penalty kick opportunity.  The offensive effort itself throughout the majority of the first 45 minutes was extremely lacklustre.  Crosses into the box were weak and inaccurate, and no one could find the back of the net.

But NYCFC would not be silenced though, and managed a comeback in the first half.  In a period of seven minutes, the Pigeons scored three goals, including two in stoppage time, in the first half.  Talles Magno started it all in the 45th minute after a Malte Amundsen header was blocked and the ball landed at his feet, leading to a back-heel goal.

It was Héber though that drew the Pigeons level again with a quick brace in stoppage time.  Cincinnati’s defense turned to mush, and they also, like NYCFC did in that 15 minute period, made mistakes.  The costliest mistake came in the dying seconds of the first half, where they gave up a free kick.

As he normally does, Moralez stepped up to take the free kick.  Often, he makes contact with his fellow Argentine, Castellanos, but of course the striker was unavailable.  Instead, the midfielder swooped the ball right into the box, and Héber was there near goal.  The Brazilian headed the ball into the back of the net, and brought the team level 3-3.

In fact, this was the first time in Major League Soccer history that a team was down 3-0 in the first half, and then came back to tie it at halftime.  This illuminates the championship winning attitude is there within the team, and highlights the players are capable of overcoming adversity.

On the other side of the half, New York City FC almost found a way to grab all three points, for Gabriel Pereira scored a stunner into the top left corner in the 52nd minute.  But Brenner was on a mission for Cincinnati, and after scoring two goals in the first half, he completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute to draw the game level again.  That would be the final goal, and as such, the Pigeons earned a point on the road.

New York City FC still has a lot to do under Cushing

There was a chance for New York City FC to grab all three points in Ohio.  But as the second half went on, they became sluggish again, and this led to the game tying goal from Brenner.  After being down 3-0 in the first half, a 4-4 draw is incredible, but there is no doubt that the players are disappointed that they could not hold on and win.

Therefore, while there were incredible moments in this fixture, there is still quite a bit of work to do under Cushing.  Defensively they have struggled since he took over, and still have not been entirely the usual NYCFC fans know and love from before the international break.  At least in Cincinnati, the players found their goal-scoring boots.

More importantly, the team is still without a win since Cushing took over.  They will have an opportunity this weekend at home against Atlanta United FC, so the pressure is on for the head coach.  He still has to prove himself, and clearly NYCFC is still in the development and adjustment stage with him in charge.

Still, it has only been four games, and what the Pigeons did in order to earn a point on the road in this fixture shows there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Remember, so many wanted Ronny Deila gone, and he led the team to the MLS Cup in the very same year.  So, it is vital that New York City FC fans give Cushing a chance, and have a little patience.

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