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Orlando City sets sights on struggling FC Cincinnati

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Orlando City SC will play host to FC Cincinnati on Saturday night in a game between teams each seeking their first win of the season.

Orlando City is coming off a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City on April 23 thanks to Nani’s goal in the 79th minute.

The Lions (0-0-2, 2 points) also received a huge performance from midfielder Sebas Mendez, who completed 91 percent of his passes, recovered and intercepted the ball a combined 12 times and made 111 total touches.

“This year we have found the Sebas that we all want,” coach Oscar Pareja said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “He is carrying the team and he is holding the responsibility to be the one who is moving the team in the middle.”

Orlando City, however, will continue to be without forward Daryl Dike, who will remain on loan with English Championship side Barnsley through the remainder of the playoffs, while that club fights for promotion into the Premier League.

FC Cincinnati (0-1-1, 1 point) is coming off a 5-0 loss to New York City FC last week when it gave up four second-half goals last week. That came after it played to a 2-2 tie against Nashville SC in the season opener when it was outshot 31-7. Cincinnati had 13 shots against New York, but just five were on target.

The team’s rough start to the season is not unexpected. Since joining MLS in 2019, Cincinnati has mustered just 41 points in its first 59 regular-season games and finished in last place in the Eastern Conference in each of the past two seasons.

Cincinnati chief executive officer and controlling owner Carl Lindner III publicly backed general manager Gerard Nijkamp and coach Jaap Stam, while urging fans to remain patient.

“I would like to have a winning record at a minimum and then if the team jells well together, make the playoffs,” Lindner said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Those are reasonable goals as we’re continuing to construct a team that we’re proud of long-term. Again, it takes time to do that.”

–Field Level Media

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