Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati each eager for 1st win of season

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Saturday, March 2, 2024

FC Cincinnati and the Chicago Fire FC were not completely satisfied with their season-opening draws.

They'll each aim for a better result when the Fire host Cincinnati on Saturday night.

FC Cincinnati expects to challenge again for the MLS Cup in 2024, even though they are relying on more youth and awaited cohesiveness from newcomers than in recent years.

Cincinnati opened with a solid defensive display during last weekend's scoreless draw at Toronto FC. However, it was unable to score despite 14 total shots, six on target and eight corners, which is far from a polished unit.

"You can see just rhythm, intensity, quality, all of that was lacking, specifically on our side," said Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan, who is not ready to pass judgment on his team.

"One game is too early to make an assessment. ... But, we have good new pieces and good returning pieces. So, that's the expectation."

Cincinnati likely will again look to Luciano Acosta, Sergio Santos and newcomer Corey Baird for more production against the Fire, who managed a goal and assist each from budding young star Brian Gutierrez and veteran Fabian Herbers in Philadelphia.

However, the Fire blew a pair of one-goal leads and allowed the Union's Daniel Gazdag to equalize in second-half stoppage time for a 2-2 draw.

"I think I feel really good about the point," Fire coach Frank Klopas said. "I felt that our team showed a lot of character and great spirit, team spirit.

"We got a point to start the season in a positive way. Regroup and get ready for our home opener."

Set to turn 21 in June, the homegrown Gutierrez seems poised to be one of the top names in MLS. He has a goal and three assists in his last three matches versus Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Acosta has four goals with an assist in his last five matches against the Fire.

--Field Level Media