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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pat Noonan on FC Cincinnati’s MLS Cup Playoffs hunt & not underestimating Chicago

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FC Cincinnati are stepping into the unknown.

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After three consecutive years finishing rock-bottom of the overall standings since arriving in Major League Soccer, the Orange and Blue are sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference, two places and four points above the Playoffs line.

By the end of the week, Cincinnati – who are boasting an 11-game unbeaten streak – could have their MLS Cup Playoffs debut confirmed. In fact, a win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday would all but seal the deal.

“I’m aware of the scenarios, or some of them. I still said to the group, we step on the field and win, teams are still having to chase us, and every week that that happens, it’s one less week that they can catch us,” head coach Pat Noonan told reporters at a pre-match press conference.

“So here we are with teams that have three or two [games] to play. So we’re in a good spot. But the teams that are chasing us are also going to be taking points off of each other. I think if we can get three points on the weekend, we’re in a good position.”

Cincy welcome a Chicago side that have already been eliminated from post-season contention. However, that’s no reason to underestimate Ezra Hendrickson’s side, who have scored seven goals in their last three games and might well enjoy the extra freedom that comes with playing a game when your season is effectively over.

“Sometimes it’s just the uncertainty of maybe rotations or players getting a chance. Sometimes you get teams that play very free,” Noonan observed of this weekend’s opponents.

“And I think in terms of Chicago, they have a lot of quality with the ball. And we’ve seen that already from earlier in the year, a team that moves the ball well, I think that spaces the field well, and like any of the teams that we’ve seen where in possession they have good spacing or good individual players, you need to be organized to be able to get to the ball in the right ways and not get stretched out. So, you know, that will be something that we continue to talk about in the next 24 hours.”

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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