Nick Hagglund described scoring the late equalizer in the first-ever game at TQL Stadium as “a Cincinnati kid’s dream,” and hoped it provided the impetus for young Cincinnati players to also dream big.
It was the kind of fight that was not seen in the club’s previous two defeats, and the later portions of their season opener against Nashville SC when they conceded 10 goals without response.
“I think we had a good attitude and we showed character, that was something that we had not done before,” Alvaro Barreal said through a translator. “And it was a key to being able to find the equalizer. It was unfortunate that we could not hold on to it, but I think that was a key for us.”
Barreal credited the atmosphere inside the sparkling new stadium as a big reason why FC Cincinnati were able to erase those two first-half goals and level late. The crowd, limited because of COVID-19 protocols, erupted when Barreal became the first FCC player to score at TQL Stadium.
“I think this game was very important for us,” said Barreal, who also apologized to the fans for not giving them a positive result on the day. “And I really do believe that the energy that the fans provided helped us a lot, were able to have synergy with the fans, as we were building up, the reactions from the fans got bigger and stronger and louder. I think that really propelled us to be able to change during the game.”
Of course, there’s still the issue of conceding what Jaap Stam called three soft goals, including Gonzalo Higuain’s winner just three minutes after Hagglund’s dramatic leveler.
“We came back into the game very good, but still what's costing us is giving away two easily, three easy goals now and then you can score two, but you still don't win a game,” Stam said. “We spoke about that already for many, many, many months, but that's the thing that we need to get out of the system. It's also a way of thinking as an individual, you need to be switched on at certain moments, and be more aggressive at times as well.”
Stam described the atmosphere inside the stadium as “fantastic,” and lauded his team’s determination to get back into the game, which he hopes carries over going forward.
“There's a good thing that we showed quality today, that we showed willingness to get back into the game and determination,” Stam said. "That’s what you're looking for and also at times we showed some good football.”