D.C. United fought to a 0-0 draw with FC Cincinnati on Friday, August 21 at Nippert Stadium as the Black-and-Red continued the MLS Regular Season in local markets.
Head Coach Ben Olsen and the D.C. united technical staff made a tactical shift since their last match in the MLS is Back Tournament as they opted for a three center back system in a 3-5-2 formation. Homegrown center back Donovan Pines returned to the starting lineup for the first time since August 2019 and had a dominant night in the middle of the back three on the way to earning the Man of the Match honors. The center back showed his physicality and positional awareness while also being a threat on set pieces with his headed effort grazing the crossbar in the first half; one of the best opportunities for a breakthrough in the match.
Homegrown midfielder Kevin Paredes also made his first MLS start after an impressive performance in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. The 17-year-old was a handful as a left wingback and created a couple of chances for teammates in his 75 minutes on the pitch.
The Black-and-Red started the match positively and had a bulk of the possession in the first half. In the new formation, D.C. united deployed a high press and Cincinnati rarely looked comfortable on the ball in the first half. With Ola Kamara and Ulises Segura manning the front, the pair’s best opportunity came when Gressel picked out Kamara with a long ball over the top in the 24th minute and the Norwegian’s cushioned header found the feet of Segura who forced the Cincinnati goalkeeper into a good save.
FC Cincinnati gathered some momentum towards the end of the first half when Gyau found space on the right flank, cut inside and forced Bill Hamid into his first save of the night at his near post.
The second half saw Cincinnati settle into the game and they created some dangerous attacking opportunities towards the end of the match. Their biggest chance came in the 85th minute when Jürgen Locadia's effort came off the inside of post but managed to stay out. Ben Olsen’s team showcased their defensive resilience and were rewarded with their first clean sheet of 2020; their first since the 0-0 draw against Cincinnati at Audi Field in the final match of the 2019 season on October 6.
The Black-and-Red now have three days to prepare for the New England Revolution who they face on Tuesday, August 25 at Audi Field. After an impressive defensive display in Ohio, D.C. United will look to build on getting a point on the road as they play at home for the first time since the 2-1 win against Miami on March 7.