Perhaps the excitement of showing off a new home pitch Sunday afternoon will help FC Cincinnati generate some offense in its rough start to the season.
Still looking for its first victory of 2021, Cincinnati (0-2-1, 1 point) debuts TQL Stadium against Inter Miami CF. The Orange and Blue will open the new 26,000-seat stadium to roughly 6,000 fans, playing for a home crowd for the first time since September 2019.
"(Spectators) can be a huge difference," FCC coach Jaap Stam told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It already gives it a totally different atmosphere than when you're playing without, and that's a very positive one for us."
Cincinnati, which last played May 1, can use all the positive vibes it can get after being outscored 5-0 by New York City FC and 3-0 Orlando FC in the last two matches. FCC conceded twice over the first 19 minutes at Orlando in its most recent contest and hasn't scored since Brenner tallied a penalty kick in the 12th minute of the 2-2 season-opening draw at Nashville SC.
"We are responsible for what's happening," defender Ronald Matarrita said. "So, we have to be critical and try to improve every day."
Cincinnati has but one goal in the run of play so far, that coming in the season's eighth-minute, which means they have gone 262 minutes without an action goal.
Looking to improve its defensive play, FCC recently signed veteran MLS, English soccer and United States national team defender Geoff Cameron.
But in facing Inter Miami (1-2-2, 5 points), FCC is facing a team that has struggled as well. And while Cincinnati has had some significant time to prepare for this contest, Miami is on a quick turnaround following Wednesday's 2-0 home defeat to CF Montreal. That left Miami winless in three games since April 24.
"There's no moping around. You've got to move on as quickly as possible," Inter coach Phil Neville told the Miami Herald. "We have to make sure there's no gaps, make sure you're winning your duels. And, that we're a tough team to beat."
Gonzalo Higuain leads Miami with two goals, but he has not scored in his last two matches.
Inter Miami won the only previous matchup between the teams, 2-1 in Miami last season.
--Field Level Media