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MLS Eastern Conference: NYCFC allegations, Cincinnati claim Ohio & more on each team

We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Eastern Conference.

14 min read

Welcome back our two-part weekly MLS column here at Backheeled where we break down all 29 teams in the league.

I’ve got the East. Joe Lowery's got the West. Matias Rojas went full Lionel Messi in Montreal. Toronto and NYCFC went full WWE in the Six. We’re going full deep dive into everything. As the kids say, check it out.

To read up on the West, check out Joe’s rundown.

MLS Western Conference: RSL’s highs and lows, LAFC’s wingers & more on each team
We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Western Conference.

Atlanta United

Result: 3-2 loss vs. DC United

Gonzalo Pineda’s seat has to be one of, if not the, hottest in MLS right now.

Six games without a win. Three consecutive losses at home. Only 15 goals scored with one of the most talented attacks in MLS. 12 points from 11 matches. This is not the Atlanta United that was promised. In fact, they’ve been the biggest disappointment in MLS so far this year.

Saturday was a disaster. Christian Benteke single-handedly (and literally) dunked on Atlanta’s defense three times. The defensive structure is in shambles. The Five Stripes created just 0.64 non-penalty xG at home, the third-lowest total of the week. This team is too talented to be allowed to perform this poorly for much longer. Pineda seems like he’s running out of time.

FC Cincinnati

Result: 2-1 win at Columbus Crew

This Kevin Kelsy character has some juice, people, and he played a huge, dramatic role in Cincinnati’s 2-1 Hell Is Real derby win. The 19-year-old striker did a passable Brandon Vazquez impression in his second MLS appearance, scoring off the bench as Cincy continued to push Miami in the Supporters’ Shield race.

Kelsy’s goal was a classic No. 9 finish, waiting for the cross at the back post before beating a pair of defenders to the ball.

His involvement in the winner was less obvious, but even more impressive. After some nifty hold-up play, Kelsy made a really smart off-ball run to the center, dragging two defenders with him to give Lucho Acosta his pick of the space inside the box. Look at how Columbus’ defense collapses on the Venezuelan: 

Cincinnati struggled to start the year while they tried to figure out the significant roster turnover that somehow wasn’t talked about enough. They seem to have figured it out now, winning four in a row and climbing to second place in the Shield standings.

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