D.C. United (8-5-8, 32 points) travel to Nippert Stadium to take on FC Cincinnati (5-13-2, 17 points) on July 18 at 8 PM ET on ESPN. The Black-and-Red have only lost one match when facing Eastern Conference opponents this year and this will be their first matchup in club history against FC Cincinnati.
D.C. United are coming off a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution on July 12 at Audi Field. The Revolution opened the scoring in the fourth minute as Teal Bunbury got behind United’s backline and finished into the bottom corner. New England would double their lead in the 32nd minute after goalkeeper Bill Hamid was unable to hang onto a close-range effort as it was parried into the path of Carles Gil for the second goal of the game. The Black-and-Red pulled one back just before halftime when Paul Arriola sent a perfect cross to Leonardo Jara who volleyed in his first MLS goal. In the second half, New England’s Wilfried Zahibo was sent off for his second yellow of the game after he took down Lucas Rodriguez near midfield. After dominating possession for the remainder of the half, Quincy Amarikwa entered the game in the 82nd minute and scored his first goal in MLS for United four minutes later with an acrobatic finish off a free-kick from Wayne Rooney to rescue a point for the Black-and-Red.
Captain Wayne Rooney has led by example this season as he leads D.C. United with 10 goals and six assists. Jara has shown his attacking prowess during his first season in MLS as he is currently second on the team with four assists. Defender Steven Birnbaum has now started the last 55 matches for United and made his 150th regular-season appearance for the club against New England. Goalkeeper Hamid has continued his dominance in between the sticks leading all keepers in MLS with 85 saves and eight clean sheets this season. The Black-and-Red will be without playmaker Luciano Acosta as he serves the second of his two-match suspension due to the red card he received in the game against FC Dallas on July 4.
FC Cincinnati have struggled during their debut season in MLS as they currently sit in last place of the Eastern Conference with a record of 5-13-2. In their last match against the Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati got off to a fast start after Allan Cruz volleyed in a cross in the opening minute of the game. The Fire would get one back in stoppage time of the first half after the referee spotted a handball in the box and rewarded them a penalty. Goalkeeper Spencer Richey saved the penalty only for it to fall right back to Nicolas Gaitan who finished into the bottom corner. After a tense second half, Cincinnati would get the breakthrough goal through Fanendo Adi after a counter-attack in the 83rd minute to give them a 2-1 victory.
FC Cincinnati have registered a 3-4-1 record at Nippert Stadium this season. Allan Cruz and Kekuta Manneh lead the new MLS franchise with three goals apiece. Emmanuel Ledesma is tied with Manneh for most assists on the team with three. Goalkeeper Spencer Richey has recorded 53 saves to help his team to two clean sheets this season. Former D.C. United striker Darren Mattocks could face his former team for the first time since being acquired by FC Cincinnati in the 2019 Expansion Draft. The match will be broadcasted on ESPN at 8 PM ET on Thursday, July 18 at Nippert Stadium.