A promising start fizzled out for D.C. United, who returned to MLS action only to be stymied in a 0-0 road draw against a defensive-minded FC Cincinnati. United hit a crossbar early, and Cincinnati hit the post late, but in truth there were few chances at either end at an empty Nippert Stadium.
Coming off of several weeks training without games, Ben Olsen opted for a major formation shift, moving away from the 433 and 4231 United had used in their prior games in favor of a 3412. Designated Player Edison Flores (still building up fitness after an injury) and regular starting left back Joseph Mora were among the players dropped, while 17-year-old academy product Kevin Paredes got the nod as a left wingback.
United came out with an aggressive high press, which contributed to plenty of very early set piece chances. The visitors couldn’t quite put any of them away, though Donovan Pines — making his first start of the year — clipped the top of the crossbar after winning the battle for Julian Gressel’s 8th minute dead ball delivery.
The Black-and-Red had all of the early looks, with Ulises Segura forcing a quick save out of Przemyslaw Tyton at the near post and Yamil Asad volleying just wide minutes later. On the other side, Cincinnati’s first shot attempt of any kind didn’t come until the 32nd minute.
Despite the smothering defensive play, United lost their edge going forward, with very few chances either way for the next half hour or so. D.C. would threaten, but were unable to create shooting opportunities, while Cincinnati maintained a very conservative outlook despite being the home team. The first true shot of note from either side after halftime didn’t come until Joe Gyau’s 70th minute angled bid forced Bill Hamid into a save.
United’s tepid attack was not enough to open up a defense-first opponent, and indeed Cincinnati nearly stole the game in the 83rd minute. With United stepping high, Cincinnati forced a turnover and quickly played DP striker Jurgen Locadia in behind. The Dutch forward opted for power, beating Hamid, but fortunately for United his shot cracked off the post and bounced harmlessly away.
Olsen made a late formation switch by removing center back Frederic Brillant, but ultimately the scoreless draw reflected the full 90 minutes from both teams. The result sees United remain in 10th place in the East, now on 6 points (1W-3D-2L). They’ll hope to find a goal or two in a few days, as they host the New England Revolution on Tuesday, August 25.
MLS Regular Season (Game 6)
FC Cincinnati 0
D.C. United 0
FCC (532): Przemyslaw Tyton; Joe Gyau, Mathieu Deplagne, Kendall Waston (C), Tom Petterson, Andrew Gutman; Yuya Kubo, Caleb Stanko (Adrien Regattin 66), Frankie Amaya; Jurgen Locadia, Siem de Jong (Allan Cruz 46)
DCU (3412): Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant (Mohammed Abu 87), Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum (C); Julian Gressel (Griffin Yow 87), Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Kevin Paredes (Joseph Mora 75); Yamil Asad (Federico Higuain 75); Ulises Segura, Ola Kamara (Edison Flores 60)
FCC - Deplagne 13, Stanko 37
DCU - Canouse 35, Flores 88, Abu 91+