It was a 1-0 defeat to FC Cincinnati in the MLSisBack tournament that spelled doom for Frank de Boer’s tenure in charge of Atlanta United. His successor, however, didn’t even get a chance to meet the two-time Wooden spoon winners before his time with the Five Stripes came crashing to an end. And as we still try to wrap our minds around what Gabriel Heinze’s sacking means for Atlanta and how to move forward, there’s a game to play tomorrow. The Five Stripes take a visit to the brand new TQL Stadium and FC Cincinnati Wednesday night as it tries to use the famous new coach bounce to snap out of an eight game winless run.
Cincinnati is one of the few teams somehow still below Atlanta in the standings, albeit by just one point. Jaap Stam’s second season in charge hasn’t gotten off to the start the Dutchmen would have wanted. Cincy was winless through its first four games and has picked up a measly total of 12 points in as many matches. Cincinnati’s defense has unsurprisingly been one of the worst in the league and conceded the second-most goals in the league (25). Despite major investment in the final third, the worst backline of MLS history hasn’t seen many new faces join. The attack at least has been busy in the transfer market, though with mixed success. Lucho Acosta and Brenner were the big moves over the off-season. Acosta has three goals and three assists so far and gives Cincinnati the quality it had been lacking. But despite his $13 million fee, Brenner has gotten off to a much slower start in MLS. The Brazilian’s first open play goals of the season came last weekend in a 5-4 defeat against Montreal; prior to that he had only one penalty in his account and was rarely a factor in the final third. Of Cincinnati’s South American contingent, it’s Argentine Alvaro Barreal (3 goals, 1 assist) that’s more likely to cause Atlanta headaches. Even though Cincinnati does have a couple threatening prices in the final third, overall, its attack isn’t much to write home about. Cincy’s 16 goals scored is one of the lowest tallies in the East and its been shutout four times.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: FC Cincinnati 0-2 Atlanta United
Rob Valentino’s first game in charge of Atlanta will be a successful one thanks to strikes from Josef Martínez and Marcelino Moreno. Wednesday won’t be pretty but Atlanta’s defense will keep Cincinnati under lock and key before a pair of late goals for the good guys will bring three points back to Atlanta.