FC Cincinnati’s 2-1 win Saturday at Orlando City SC far exceeded a result that, understandably, could blend into the grind of a 34-game MLS regular season.
For starters, it marked head coach Pat Noonan’s first victory since he joined this offseason from being a Philadelphia Union assistant coach. That carries enough weight as the Orange & Blue look to turn the page on three straight Wooden Spoon (bottom-of-table) finishes.
But perhaps most importantly, the Week 3 victory snapped a streak of 14 straight losses stretching back to the 2021 campaign, a somewhat staggering figure when put into perspective. That detail especially struck forward Brandon Vazquez, whose brace sealed all three points at Exploria Stadium.
“We know how the past has been for this club,” Vazquez said. “And we know the quality of players we have and see it in training every day. I feel like we truly believe we all are invested and we believe in ourselves. We believe in this group. And we're really close. Like I said, if we just believe, I think that's the most important thing. Everybody actually feels it in them that we can win. And I think we've been doing that the past couple of weeks, regardless of results.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Orlando City SC vs. FC Cincinnati | March 12, 2022
Cincy started their 2022 campaign with a 5-0 loss at Austin FC and a 1-0 defeat at TQL Stadium to D.C. United. Both results – one a lopsided setback, the other decided on a 98th-minute penalty kick to a 10-man side – have become all too familiar to the Queen City faithful since they joined MLS in 2019 as an expansion team.
Fans could be forgiven for feeling déjà vu after those early-season results, given how FC Cincinnati entered the year with a combined negative-105 goal differential and 14W-59L-18D record. And the offseason was relatively quiet transaction-wise, at least of the attention-grabbing variety, underscoring the long-term project that awaits general manager Chris Albright as he enters his first full year in charge, somewhat limited by inherited contracts.
Given that history, FC Cincinnati’s first-ever Noonan-led win was significant for collective reasons, both of the mental and tactical variety.
“Obviously, the past hasn't been so kind as far as results and how the seasons have finished, but coming off of a really good performance last weekend, without the result, I think this was an important win,” Noonan said. “Just for the confidence of the group, and moving into our fourth game, having won a game and understanding that this group is going to win and we're moving in the right direction.
“I was just pleased for us as a group to win this game. It wasn't so much myself. It's nice to get that out of the way, of course, but it was important for our group to understand what it feels like, winning and winning on the road and winning against a good team.”
While just one result, goalkeeper Alec Kann believes it’s a moment FC Cincinnati can springboard off of as they head into Week 4 and host Inter Miami CF next Saturday (1 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN in Canada).
"It’s a huge relief for me and the group to kind of get that monkey off of our back and get three points on the board,” Kann, a former Atlanta United netminder, said. “And [it’s] something to build on. I thought last week, we deserved more than what we got in the game against D.C. And tonight, I think on the balance of play, maybe a bit fortunate to get the three points. But we had to dig in and that's what it takes to win in this league.”