NYCFC lose, 1-3, to FC Cincinnati
New York City Football fell to defeat at the hands of FC Cincinnati on Wednesday. Braian Cufré was on the scoresheet for the Boys in Blue, netting his first NYCFC goal, but The Orange and Blue claimed the points with a 3-1 triumph at Yankee Stadium through Luciano Acosta, Álvaro Barreal and Brandon Vazquez strikes, as the Eastern Conference and Supporters Shield leaders continued their impressive start to the campaign.
Matchday 15 saw New York return to The Bronx for the first time since April's visit of Atlanta United, looking to extend our unbeaten run having not tasted defeat at Yankee Stadium since March 2022. Following a challenging run of six games without victory, Nick Cushing's side were hoping to take advantage of home comforts with a record of 4-1-1 on home soil so far in 2023.
Cincinnati arrived in NYC on top of the MLS standings and in excellent form, victorious in their last six games and unbeaten against the City Boys in the last three meetings, including an US Open Cup encounter just three weeks ago.
City Head Coach Cushing made five changes to the side that faced Philadelphia Union on Saturday. Matt Freese, Tony Alfaro and Stephen Turnbull lined up for their first MLS starts with the Club, while Cufré and Gabe Segal were also restored to the starting XI.
The Boys in Blue started brightly, dominating the early exchanges with some neat build-up play. Gabriel Pereira crafted the game's first chance as he went in search of his second goal of the week, cutting inside but watching his effort deflect wide.
James Sands then drew a superb stop from Roman Celentan on 18', rising to meet Santiago Rodríguez's corner, with the Cincy shot-stopper somehow tipping the header over.
The chance sparked the visitors into life and Freese was called into action for the first time to deny Santiago Arias, while Turnbull was alert to bravely block Barreal's rebound,.
Vazquez - the matchwinner in the recent US Open Cup tie - then blazed over the bar, before Yuya Kubo drilled wide of the far post, and an Acosta effort ricocheted into the arms of Freese.
NYCFC had the ball in the net at the other end, as the lively Pereira struck on the half-hour mark for the second successive match with a well-taken volley - only for the goal to be ruled out for an alleged foul by Segal in the build-up. Replays suggested a harsh call, but the officials stood firm.
There was further cause for frustration when Cincinnati opened the scoring seven minutes before the break, as Acosta (celebrating his 29th birthday) curled into the top corner from Dominique Badji's lay-off, after Barreal had driven to the byline down the left and cut back.
Tempers flared throughout the opening 45 with both sides battling for the points. Barrael almost made it two for the visitors, driving a half-volley wide on the brink of half-time, while City were desperately unlucky not to have leveled in first-half injury time with a deflected Cufré cross-shot bouncing agonizingly off the crossbar.
The home side pressed for a leveler after the restart but found Celentan in inspired form. The visitors' 'keeper produced three key stops in quick succession, thwarting Rodríguez's free-kick and Pereira's rebound, before pushing away a Maxime Chanot header from the resulting corner.
The away side doubled their lead with a set-piece of their own, as Barreal curled in a sensational free-kick just before the hour, after Acosta had drawn the foul.
Badji then skewed wide of the target, and in response, the City Boys rallied, inspired by substitute Alfredo Morales.
Keaton Parks had gone close, aiming for the top corner, before Morales made a key impact, crossing for Cufré to nod home his first goal for the Club to claw the hosts back into the contest.
The hope proved short-lived however, as Cincinnati were awarded a penalty two minutes later, following a VAR call which adjudged Alfaro to have upended Yerson Mosquera. Vazquez stepped up to convert.
Cufré and sub Richy Ledezma went close to reducing the deficit once more, but the Boys in Blue were unable to find a second to spark a late fightback, and the visitors held on for the points.
How We Lined Up
New York City Football Club are back in The Bronx on Saturday, welcoming New England Revolution to Yankee Stadium in our final game of a three-match home stand.
The clash kicks off at 3:30pm ET on June 3, and tickets are available.
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