MLS: FC Cincinnati seeking offense ahead of duel at Atlanta United

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FC Cincinnati has lost back-to-back MLS matches for the first time in 23 months.

Cincinnati looks to break out of its funk on Saturday night when it visits Atlanta United, which is unbeaten (1-0-2) over their past three matches.

Cincinnati (3-2-3, 12 points) is winless in its past three matches: a 1-1 tie against host Charlotte FC and consecutive 2-1 losses to the visiting New York Red Bulls and host CF Montreal.

The loss to Montreal last Saturday caused a heavy number of uncomfortable conversations this week, according to Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan.

“The group is not accustomed to losing games,” Noonan said. “… We’re not all of a sudden a bad team. We’ve had a bad little stretch here. … We’re still competing, we’re trying to figure things out.”

Yuya Kubo scored the lone Cincinnati goal against Montreal, his team-leading third of the season. Cincinnati has just eight goals on the season.

Cincinnati will be without top goalkeeper Roman Celentano (ankle) for the second straight game. Alec Kann will again draw the start.

Atlanta United (3-2-2, 11 points) began its unbeaten stretch with a 3-0 victory over the visiting Chicago Fire on March 31. The Five Stripes followed with a 1-1 tie against host New York City and 2-2 draw against the visiting Philadelphia Union.

Against the Union last Saturday, Atlanta United led 2-0 in the second half before Philadelphia scored goals in the 73rd and 77th minutes to forge a tie.

Daniel Rios and Caleb Wiley scored the goals for Atlanta United.

The goal came in Rios’ second match with the Five Stripes since he was acquired on loan from Chivas of Liga MX last month.

The goal was Rios’ 13th in MLS play. He had stints with Nashville SC (2020-21) and Charlotte (2022).

Rios was acquired to provide help with leading goal scorer Giorgos Giakoumakis (five) ailing with a bruised knee. Second-leading goal scorer Jamal Thiare (three) also has missed time with a hamstring injury.

“I think he is adapting to that specific environment, where he is the only (striker) — he has to hold that position a little bit more,” Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “But he is doing very good. He doesn’t need many chances to score goals which is good.

“And nine goals out of my three strikers is not a bad record to have.”

Last season, Cincinnati won 2-1 at Atlanta on Aug. 30 and the teams played to a 2-2 tie at Cincinnati on Oct. 21.

–Field Level Media

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