Thu, 07 Dec 2023

Cincinnati, Nashville meet amid their best starts to season

Field Level Media
25 Mar 2023, 14:05 GMT+10

Both FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC are off to strong starts, though they've done so by different means.

Cincinnati looks to remain unbeaten while trying for its first-ever victory over host Nashville on Saturday night.

Cincinnati (2-0-2, 8 points) is off to the best start in the five-year MLS history of the franchise, and one of five squads without a league defeat. Cincinnati rallied from a 3-1 hole to draw at Chicago last weekend, thanks to late scores from Sergio Santos and Junior Moreno -- both with two goals on the season.

Cincinnati has six goals on the season, but likely needs to regroup defensively from last weekend after conceding just one through in the first three matches. Still, coach Pat Noonan likes his side's form.

"When you're maybe not at your best, or you're still trying to get into a consistent rhythm, you've got to figure out ways to get points," Noonan told the team's official website. "So far, I'm pleased with that."

FC Cincinnati is amid a 2-0-6 regular-season MLS road stretch. The last league squad to go unbeaten in nine straight road contests was Portland during the 2012 and '13 campaigns.

However, Cincinnati has been outscored 12-6 while going 0-2-2 versus Nashville (2-1-1, 7 points), which is off to its best four-game start in club history.

Nashville, though, must rebound from allowing its first goal of the season in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at New England. It's the second time that Gary Smith's group was shut out in 2023.

While defense has paced Nashville's early success, the team has scored just four times while reigning MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar is still searching for his first goal after scoring 23 last season. Nonetheless, Smith remains confident in his team.

"I've been very, very pleased with an awful lot (from our) opening four games," said Smith, whose team is amid a 5-1-1 home stretch.

"When we don't earn points, we're all bitterly disappointed."

Mukhtar is also goalless in three games against Cincinnati, but he has five assists in those matches. Meanwhile, Jacob Shaffelburg has recorded half of Nashville's goals this season.

--Field Level Media

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