After a strong start to their inaugural season in MLS, FC Cincinnati have lost form in recent weeks, as they're winless in four matches.
The latest result was a disappointing 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake at Nippert Stadium, and the club now awaits a three-game road swing. Head coach Alan Koch feels this dip in form is just part of a long season.
"Everybody is aware of the journey we're on," Koch said after training on Tuesday. "I think we surprised ourselves, surprised other people by the success we had in the first four games. We've been brought back down to Earth after the last four games. That's the reality of a long, long season. Fortunately, we're not far out of a playoff spot. For a new group, we're in a very good position."
"We were under no illusions: We knew this was going to be a tough challenge," Koch added. "It is a tough challenge."
Cincy are preparing to face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada) to start their three-match week. After the Red Bulls, Cincy travel to face the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday and then to the West Coast to face the San Jose Earthquakes the following weekend.
"We know the past games we didn't do well, so we're really hungry to do something else, prove we deserve more," midfielder Kenny Saief said. "We're working hard. Hopefully we'll get points in the next three games."
The Red Bulls aren't in the best run of form, either. Last season's record-setting squad is winless in their last five matches, with just five points so far in 2019.
"They don't have confidence; they lost last week," midfielder Roland Lamah said. "It's going to be difficult but we have chances, we have good players. Saturday's going to be a good game."
"New York is always difficult," Lamah added. "We have a chance, so let's go."