Group E of The MLS is Back Tournament ends on Wednesday as the middle teams in the group, New York Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati, play for second place and an automatic spot in the knockout round. Both teams have an outside shot at winning the group if Columbus loses to Atlanta United Tuesday night.
But to do that, NYRB would have to make up seven goals on the Crew, while FC Cincinnati would have to make up nine goals. If the teams tie on Wednesday, NYRB finishes second, and FC Cincinnati finishes third.
These teams have already met in 2020, with New York winning the season-opening game 3-2 on March 1 at home. Kyle Duncan and Kaku scored in the first half before Daniel Royer scored in the 70th minute while Allan Cruz and Jurgen Locadia scored for Cincinnati.
The Red Bulls beat then-expansion FC Cincinnati twice in 2019 with a 1-0 home win in April and a 2-0 road win a month later.
FC Cincinnati Outlook: Grow the Confidence
FC Cincinnati got new manager Jaap Stam his first MLS win on Thursday with a 1-0 win over Atlanta United. After Atlanta went down to 10 men in the 26th minute, the Orange and Blue finally broke through in the 76th minute when Frankie Amaya scored. Przemyslaw Tyton made three saves as Atlanta finished the game with nine players after another red card.
Cincinnati began the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Columbus Crew. The two results leave them with three points but a minus-3 goal differential, which will make it tough for them to advance without a positive result against NYRB.
A draw would put them in good shape at four points, while a win will ensure they get another week in the Wide World of Sports bubble.
The Thursday morning shutout of the 2018 MLS Champions came in Tyton’s second start of the season after the Polish-born keeper had three clean sheets last year. Spencer Richey has allowed five goals in his two starts, and Stam didn’t indicate which keeper would start against New York.
New York Red Bulls Outlook: Win and Advance
The Red Bulls did not have a shot on goal in last Wednesday night’s 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew. David Jensen faced three shots on goal from the Crew and allowed a goal in each half.
The possession was pretty evenly split through the game, but the Crew didn’t give the Red Bulls any scoring chances.
In the opening game, NYRB knocked off Atlanta United 1-0 as Florian Valot scored in the fourth minute on an assist from Kaku. Jensen made four saves to preserve the clean sheet.
The Red Bulls have a slight chance at winning the group if they can pour in goals against Cincinnati like Columbus did in the opener. The more likely scenario is they make good on the -250 to qualify for the knockout round with a draw or win on Wednesday night.
FC Cincinnati/New York Red Bulls Betting Lines
- New York Red Bulls -128 to win
- FC Cincinnati +301 to win
- Draw +272
- Over/Under 2.5 goals (O -121, U -108)
Cincinnati barely beat Atlanta United despite having an extra player for over an hour. New York may have struggled on offense against Columbus, but they have the offensive firepower to keep the Orange and Blue under siege all game long.
The Red Bulls could be a tough out in the knockout round with their experience, expect them to find the goal early and often in the group finale, as they’ll be a good bet to make.
FREE PICK: New York Red Bulls to win (-128)