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PREVIEW | FC Cincinnati conclude road stretch at Chicago Fire FC

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FC Cincinnati will compete on the road for the fourth time in 15 days Saturday when the Orange and Blue take on Chicago Fire FC. Kickoff on Saturday, May 14 from Solider Field is set for 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.

FC CINCINNATI AT CHICAGO FIRE FC – SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2022 – 8 p.m. ET – SOLDIER FIELD
HOW TO WATCH

Local TV: Star64
Local Stream: fccincinnati.com
Out of Market Stream: ESPN+
Radio: ESPN 1530
Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst), Alex Stec (sideline)

Be sure to follow @FCCincinnati on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the game.

HEAD TO THE WATCH PARTY OR A PUB PARTNER
An official watch party will be held at Rhinegeist located in OTR. Rhinegeist has a large craft beer selection for fans and a pre-match party starting at 7:30 p.m.

Fans can also catch the action at one of 14 official Pub Partners located across the region. Pub Partners are presented by Coors Light. The FCC Street Team presented by Cliffs will join the party this Saturday at The Pub at Kolping beginning at 7:30 p.m.

SCOUTING CHICAGO FIRE FC (2-4-4, 10 PTS., 14th EASTERN CONFERENCE)
Chicago Fire FC are led by first-year head coach and MLS veteran Ezra Hendrickson, who took over the club this offseason after three years as an assistant in Columbus. He has ties to FC Cincinnati’s Pat Noonan, as the duo was part of the 2008 Columbus Crew squad which won MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

Hendrickson coaches a squad currently in last place in the Eastern Conference, but just four points away from seventh place and the MLS Cup Playoffs cut line.

The Fire have scored just seven goals this season, tied with Vancouver for the fewest in MLS. But Chicago is not short on star power, led by veteran Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri. 17-year-old Gabriel Slonina has gathered international attention for his impressive play, and his five clean sheets are tied at the top of MLS.

Former Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybyłko has missed the past two games with a back injury, and he will miss Saturday’s contest as well. The Polish forward is tied with Shaqiri for most goals on the squad this season with two. Another former Union man, Fabian Herbers, helps lead the Fire attack, as he just returned last week at Atlanta as a substitute after missing nearly the entire month of April.

Chicago have not earned a win since March 19, a 3-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City. Since then, the Fire are 0-4-2 and have not scored more than one goal in a game. Chicago is coming off a 4-1 defeat last Saturday at Atlanta United FC.

STORYLINES OF THE GAME
LOOKING FOR FOUR IN A ROW

The Orange and Blue made history last Saturday night by winning a third consecutive game, the first time FC Cincinnati had accomplished that since entering MLS. Now the club aims for four-in-a-row over a successful stretch which has resulted in nine points to bump FC Cincinnati into fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

FC Cincinnati will look to erase Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup result from their memory quickly, a 5-1 defeat at the New England Revolution. This Saturday at Chicago will conclude a 15-day stretch where FC Cincinnati played five games across all competitions. 

FCC AGAINST THE FIRE
The Orange and Blue are 2-2-2 all-time against Chicago Fire FC, including 2-1-0 in the Windy City. The Fire are one of two clubs FCC hold a winning road record against (CF Montréal: 2-1-1). Last time the sides met in Chicago on June 23, 2021, Álvaro Barreal’s 50th minute free kick was the game-winner in a 1-0 win for FC Cincinnati.

CREATING CHANCES
FC Cincinnati lead all of MLS in expected goals (22.37), expected assists (14.78) and in key passes (107) entering this weekend of MLS competition. Midfielder Luciano Acosta has been vital to the success in each of those categories. He leads MLS this season in creating chances with 42 key passes.

MLS TEAM OF THE WEEK TRIO
FC Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta, goalkeeper Roman Celentano, and Head Coach Pat Noonan were all named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 10

Celentano has an opportunity to face off against former Indiana University teammate and Fire Homegrown player Victor Bezerra, who made his MLS debut last Saturday at Atlanta as a second half substitute. 

APPROACHING 100
FC Cincinnati enter Saturday having tallied 89 goals, and have received five own goals, for a total of 94 goals scored in MLS regular season play. The club has scored 47 goals on the road in their MLS history.





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MLS

Alex Roldán turned down call-up to El Salvador

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Alex Roldán was conspicuously left off El Salvador’s roster for some upcoming Concacaf Nations League matches. On Friday, El Salvador coach Hugo Perez explained why.

“To close this chapter I want to say that Roldán is not coming because he is not happy with what happened before the game against Canada,” he said in Spanish. “He prefers to take some more time to digest that. But that is the reason, there is no other. Those are things that don’t have to happen, but they did. But we can’t do anything anymore, we have to turn the page and move on.”

The incident in question happened in February, when the El Salvador players released a statement saying that they intended not to play a World Cup qualifier due to a dispute over bonuses. Although they eventually relented, some hard feelings apparently persisted.

The 2-0 loss to Canada effectively eliminated El Salvador from World Cup contention and Roldán was not part of the team during the final qualifying window, nor a friendly in April.

Although Roldán only made his El Salvador debut during last summer’s Gold Cup, he’s already made 15 appearances and established himself as a team captain.

In a Twitter post, Roldán didn’t offer a ton of elaboration but did say that he “didn’t want to come back with bad thoughts and ruin relationships” and left the door open for a return in the future.

El Salvador’s loss is the Sounders’ gain, however, as Roldán will now be available for the team’s June 14 match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.





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João Paulo undergoes ‘successful’ ACL surgery

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João Paulo underwent “successful” ACL surgery on Wednesday, the Seattle Sounders announced. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bert Mandelbaum in Santa Monica, Calif., the same doctor who did both of Jordan Morris’ ACL procedures. The injury occurred during the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final on May 4.

Generally speaking, the recovery timeline for ACL surgeries is 6-9 months, which means the earliest João Paulo could return is sometime early next year, most likely in February or March. If the Club World Cup takes place in 2023, the thinking seems to be that it would likely happen in mid-February. The MLS regular season usually starts in late February or early March.

It took Morris about eight months to return from his most recent ACL surgery, but he was about five years younger than João Paulo is now. Jordy Delem needed almost a full year to recover from his ACL injury.



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Drew Moor, Colorado Rapids look to extend record unbeaten home stretch

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It is a bit of a family reunion in Colorado this Holiday weekend as the Rapids finally welcome Nashville SC into DSGP for the first time. Old-timers (like myself) will see a few familiar names on the staff as the visitors are led by Head Coach Gary Smith, and assistant Steve Guppy, Matt Pickens, and Kosuke Kimura, all of whom were part of the 2010 MLS Cup winning side in Colorado.

Another member of that historic squad is Colorado’s own Drew Moor, who has fond memories of that group and is looking forward to welcoming his old mates back to the stadium where they won it all—at least after the final whistle on Saturday. “Just great memories,” Drew tells Burgundy Wave thinking back on that team. “I’m happy to call them my friends. I haven’t seen those guys in a long time, so it’ll be good to see them and reconnect a little bit. You always want to beat your buddies when you’re playing against them, but they’ve done extremely well. From a personal standpoint, I can’t wait to hug them and see how they’re all doing.”

“That was certainly a prime in my career, I would say where I was playing well, I was growing a lot. Gary was a huge part of my career; winning a Championship is always special, but even more than that is the relationships I developed with him and Steve, obviously Matt and Kosuke.”

The veteran Colorado Rapids defender, now in his 10th season in Colorado and 18th in MLS, is a prime example of what a veteran leader can be regardless of how many minutes he sees or doesn’t see in matches. For his part, Drew has seen a lot of both, featuring in over 430 total matches including playoffs and over 17,000 minutes in MLS.

They seem like just numbers in print, but to think of them over a career and the fact that only a handful of players can touch those numbers it’s an even more impressive feat. Although, to Drew, it means something a little different. “I look at those numbers and think I feel very blessed and fortunate and lucky that I’ve played for some good organizations, for some amazing coaches, with some great teammates, great fan bases, and people that have believed in me.”

In exactly the humble, gracious way you’d expect from Moor, he continues, “I’ve dedicated everything I have to being a good professional and playing in so many games. Hopefully, some other players look at that and feel like they’ll want to do the same things.”

That responsibility is never really required, or even asked of Drew; however, it’s one he feels willing and able to take on by something as simple as the way he goes about his own business. “I have a lot of jobs here, but my number one job is to be the best center back I can be….try to win a starting spot, try to perform at a high level, and help the team in that way.”

“If you’re not a good example on the field playing – with the work you put in, the concentration you put it, trying to compete and win starting spots regardless of what the starting team is – you’ve already not been a great example for the young guys. From there, be a good teammate, be a voice, be somebody who can help not just the young guys, but the older guys as well, but absolutely be the best center back I can possibly be.”

Drew has said it before and he’ll say it again—MLS is a grind. However, he loves his job, he loves putting in the work, and he loves the satisfaction he gets from that. “I have a long list of people to thank, but I continue to be motivated every day to do my best and improve. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something or try to improve on my own. It’s a game that changes, a group that changes, and it will keep you on your toes.”

“I do come in here every day with a smile, but it doesn’t mean I’m feeling great every day; sometimes you have to fake it,” he says with a self-deprecating laugh. “That positive energy can be contagious, and it can spread throughout the group at all times of the season.“

You have to think that will, in some large part, be missed when Moor decides to call an end to the grind of MLS and his playing career. Don’t expect any retirement tour just yet, though, as even he doesn’t really know what lies ahead of the next match.

“If I think about what’s next after my playing career, I immediately start to miss being a player. That doesn’t mean I won’t look forward to moving into what’s next when the time comes, but while I’m doing this, I want to give it everything I’ve got. You only have one career really. While I’m playing I have to be sure that when I do finish, I have to be proud of everything I put into it.”

“I’ve made no decision on my career,” Moor admits. “I’m just taking it one day at a time, I have been for a couple of years now. I think there are more days behind me than in front of me in my career so you have to enjoy it.”

“I still put pressure on myself for sure, but I’ve let some of the little things go that I know I can’t control and that’s just something you learn over a career. It’s a microcosm for everybody’s life – you can’t control everything – so you’ve got to enjoy the things you can. I try to pick and choose the right times to let some things go that maybe my younger self wouldn’t have, whether that’s blasting a referee, blasting a teammate on the field, whatever it is,” Moor tells fans, sounding like the Dad he proudly is.

As far as the current Rapids and their fight in 2022, Drew is not surprised at the way the team has come through a very difficult period in the last two weeks, with a congested schedule, weird travel adjustments, and very difficult opponents.

“This team always handles everything well, including a bit of adversity with a busy schedule. This team has incredible character from the individuals to the group. I feel like Robin and the staff, all the way up to Padraig, have done such a good job of bringing in people that can battle adversity.”

“The concentration hasn’t dropped,” Drew reassures fans. “We’re coming into a little bit of a break, which I think will be good for us both physically and mentally. I don’t always like breaks, but you’ve got to take advantage of it, get away from it for a couple of days if you can because it’s a long season.”

Before that break, however, there’s some business to attend to in welcoming back old friends while trying to extend Colorado’s home unbeaten streak to 24 matches on Saturday.



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