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MLS News: FC Cincinnati meet Charlotte FC looking for finishing kick

FC Cincinnati can move into a playoff spot and secure a team-record unbeaten streak Saturday when they pay a visit to Charlotte FC.

FC Cincinnati (8-8-11, 35 points) are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Inter Miami for the East’s final playoff berth. Charlotte FC (10-16-2, 32 points) can leapfrog Cincinnati in the standings with a win.

Cincinnati has a tie-heavy 2-1-10 record over its past 13 games, with a July 17 loss to the Columbus Crew separating two 1-0-5 runs. FC Cincinnati have not completed a seven-game unbeaten stretch in four MLS seasons.

Another tie would match Cincinnati with the 2011 Chicago Fire as the only MLS teams to ever record 11 draws over a 14-game span.

With a playoff berth in sight, Cincinnati’s priority is turning these draws into wins. FC Cincinnati have held leads in seven of their last nine games, with only a single victory. Brandon Vazquez leads the club with 16 goals.

“We talked a lot about how we were seeing out games, and the decision-making and how we can be a little more aggressive about defending forward, a little further from goal,” FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Just some good discussions about how we defend the box, how we close spaces and so, it was a good review.”

If surrendering leads and settling for draws has become a pattern for FC Cincinnati, Charlotte FC’s 2-0 loss to Toronto FC was far too familiar to Charlotte interim head coach Christian Lattanzio.

Charlotte outshot Toronto by a 19-11 margin but couldn’t generate consistent attacking pressure.

“I think the team creates, is in control of most situations and then unfortunately, we concede as soon as we make a mistake,” Lattanzio said.

Late-game breakdowns also have plagued Charlotte FC. The team has allowed 10 goals over its past four games, with nine of those goals coming in the second half. Karol Swiderski leads the club with eight goals, but has just one in his past four games.

Charlotte is on a two-game losing streak, going 2-4-0 in August.

In the first ever meeting between the teams, Charlotte FC earned a 2-0 home win over FC Cincinnati on March 26.

–Field Level Media

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