After two seasons of turmoil, 2022 was shaping up to be Benz’s first relatively normal year in a while with Gonzalo Pineda in charge from day one. But The Five Stripes’ hopes of a smooth campaign are fading fast. Combined with wave after wave of injuries, Atlanta hasn’t shown the season-over-season improvement we’d hoped for, and with a number of starters out there, that may not change anytime soon. However, Atlanta is itself in the mix in the Eastern Conference, which looks just as mixed as ever. Of course, all this would change if Atlanta ceased to be interested in business at home, having achieved two victories and a draw. A visit from 11th FC Cincinnati should Add three more points to Atlanta’s tally, but not much has gone the way it should have gotten this season.
Despite its low rating, Cincinnati has made some improvements from its third consecutive season winning the wooden spoon in 2021.Philadelphia Union Assistant manager Pat Noonan took the reins at Ohio State, but the roster has largely remained the same – Dom Badjie, Junior Moreno and Alec were the only major additions while DP Midfielder Obinna Nobudu was added just days before. Noonan clearly saddled one of the league’s worst slates, but Sensei is showing at least some signs of life so far. Defensively, it’s still a mess, with 14 goals conceded well enough for the third worst in the East, but Cincinnati are in the middle of the group in the final third and only one goal below Atlanta.
Brandon Vazquez (5 goals, 1 assist) is the main danger man, with Luciano Acosta the main opportunity maker (43 making shots). The duo is just the only offensive firepower Cincinnati has to offer and when she’s not in great shape, a toothless Cincinnati. When they are able to score against anyone, but that doesn’t happen week after week. Cincinnati has been eliminated three times but has several goals in each of the three games in which he has found the net. Given the influence of the former’s curse, we can be certain that Vazquez in particular will cause his old club to get into trouble.
Atlanta’s loss to Charlotte means they remain fourth with 10 points, 6 behind leaders Philadelphia and 2 points above the red line. Most disturbing, however, is the prospect of two months without Joseph and a toothless attack like last weekend. Cincinnati’s porous backline is the perfect opponent for newcomers Thiago Almada and Ronaldo Cisneros to find a foothold for them, but Five Stripes must emerge with a very different strength than Charlotte.
Expect to start XIs
prediction: Atlanta United 1-1 FC Cincinnati
Atlanta would take the lead through Thiago Almada but eventually allowed Cincinnati to get back into the game before Vazquez equalized in the second half.