Back on March 24, FC Cincinnati were 2-1-1 through their first four games in MLS and on a two-game winning run. Things were looking great for the expansion side.
The most immediate concern? The goals have dried up, with the team on a 341-minute run without a goal, stretching across three full games and extending deep into a fourth.
Head coach Alan Koch admitted that was the primary issue postgame.
“Let’s call it what it is. Right now we can’t buy ourselves a goal," Koch told the Cincinnati broadcast immediately after the final whistle. "We came here tonight, we created chances and we didn’t take them. We did the exact same thing in the second half in New York [in the last game]. But we’ve got to keep persevering."
Philadelphia held an edge in shots and shots on target on Wednesday, but FC Cincy weren't shy themselves, with 15 shots, three on target, including an early attempt that forced a key save from Union GK Matt Freese and injured the youngster in the process, forcing the home side to go to third-string goalkeeper Carlos Coronel off the bench.
Nonetheless, with Koch opting to find a balance on the field and deal with injuries, he fielded Darren Mattocks up top, with Roland Lamah and Allan Cruz flanking him in the attack, but the result was more of the same, even if Koch insisted they are so close to breaking their scoring slump.
"I think we’re on the cusp," he said. "You can see how the guys came out tonight and applied themselves. Their workrate was first class, they did everything we asked them to do. We came to Philly who are first in the [Eastern Conference] I think right now, we came to a tough, tough place to play, we created ample chances."
There's still 26 games left in the regular season, but Cincinnati have fallen to joint-bottom of the East, on eight points (2-6-2). Koch admitted, "You can only defend for so long against other teams in this league,” as FC Cincinnati have to switch gears quickly, as they head to San Jose on Saturday to take on the resurgent Earthquakes (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+; DAZN in Canada).
"These are spells that you may have over the course of a season, these are the ones to define our character, and how do we respond from it. And I think the response from the first half today was very, very good from the other night, but you’ve still got to put together a quality 90 minutes. When you come into a place like this, anything can happen,” Koch said.