The remainder of the 2020 Major League Soccer schedule was released on Tuesday, after initial promises of release before mid-September, met with an interim three-match schedule.
For FC Cincinnati (FCC), two of the three matches were arranged as away games, a troubling sign to a club that was already falling far behind in the Eastern Conference with five straight games of no wins or goals scored at the time.
On Sept. 19, the first game of their three-match arrangement against now seventh-place New York Red Bulls, FCC pulled off a 1-0 upset at Red Bull Arena off an 85th minute Olimpico winner by midfielder Harris Medunjanin.
It was FCC’s first victory since July. More recently, the Lions played third-place Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, and we’re able to hold on to a 0-0 draw against the MLS Is Back Tournament semi-finalists.
Currently, FCC is placed 11th in the Eastern Conference standings with 13 points, just outside of the expanded 10-team playoff qualifying pool in response to COVID-19’s impact on the 2020 season.
After the team expressed disappointment in the number of away games FCC has endured since the start of the season to the Cincinnati Enquirer – just four games at Nippert in 13 league matches so far – the new schedule responded with another slew of away matches.
The next three games on FCC’s schedule see the club visiting New York City FC, Minnesota United and Philadelphia Union. However, Cincinnati will see their vast amount of travel pay off, as the following five matches will all be played at home.
They will also serve as the final games of FCC’s tenure at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, where the club has played since its inception in the formerly named United Soccer League, now dubbed the USL Championship, in 2016.
The homestand will begin against currently fourth-placed Toronto FC on Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. and end with a top-five Western Conference opponent in the form of Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
If FCC keeps themselves on the outside-looking-in, the homestand could prove to arrive at a crucial time for the Lions as they will be five of the final seven games of the season.
Unfortunately for FCC, their biggest problem up to this point in the season can’t be resolved solely by a streak of home games. Out of all 26 teams in the MLS, Cincinnati has had the league’s least-potent attack, tallying a meager eight goals in 2020, making them the only team among both conferences that have yet to reach double-digits in scoring.
With a recent victory and a draw against a strong opponent, the time is now for FCC to attempt any turnaround if they hope to make the playoffs.
Their next game is against New York City FC on Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. and will be available to watch through the ESPN+ streaming service.