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FC Cincinnati blanks New England 2-0 for second straight MLS shutout

Coach: Don't get carried away by impressive start
Posted: 6:00 PM, Mar 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-25 01:12:45Z

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Coach Alan Koch warned about getting carried away by FC Cincinnati's impressive start after its second straight shutout victory, 2-0, over the New England Revolution Sunday.

The expansion Orange and Blue (2-1-1) now has seven points in its last three games and is tied for first place in the Eastern Conference after its first road victory, albeit against the winless Revolution (0-3-1). DC United is 2-0-1 after playing one fewer game and the Columbus Crew is also 2-1-1.

“We are big-time exceeding expectations, but we will take it and we know we will go fight in every single game," Koch said Sunday. "If you had said to me that at the start of the season after four games ... that we would have seven points, I would have said, 'You’re crazy.' So full credit to the players, full credit to the staff. Everyone is buying into what we are asking them to do. They are willing to be selfless. They are working for each other and we continue to improve.

"But we are not going to get carried away. It’s still early. You don’t gain anything in this league by being anywhere in the table after four games ... But I am happy for the players, they will take a lot of confidence from this, which will help them continue to grow as a group.”

Kekuta Manneh and Kenny Saief assisted on each other's goals, with Manneh breaking a scoreless deadlock in the 44th minute and Saief scoring in the 65th minute. Manneh has scored 36 MLS goals while Saief got his first in his first MLS start.

Meanwhile, Spencer Richey, last year's starting goalkeeper, stood out in his third straight start for injured Przemysław Tyton (hamstring). Richey turned back bang-bang shots in the 60th minute to protect a one-goal lead and has not allowed a goal in 265 minutes since a 1-1 tie with Atlanta United FC in Week 2.

"He makes big saves at big moments," Koch said of Richey.

The Orange and Blue backline stood up to a pressure-filled attack in the second half after a loosely-played first half that reminded Koch of pro basketball.

"The first half was way too open in the game. It was almost like an NBA All-Star game," Koch said. "They come down and see if they can get a chance. We go down and see if we could have a chance and that, from a coaching perspective, is not a good place to be in, because it could’ve been 3-3, 4-3 at halftime. And those are moments we are trying to take away.”

Forrest Lasso made his MLS debut and played 90 minutes, contributing to the defensive effort that resulted in a shutout.

“A dream come true. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. I got a clean sheet, so I did my job,” Lasso said.

Manneh scored a tap-in goal after he played a lead pass to Saief. Saief benefited from Emmanuel Ledesma's cross to Manneh, who found Saief at the far post.

“I saw space," Saief said. "I saw just Kekuta put the ball in the box and I’m happy I was in the right place. Not a big goal but an important goal.”

Ledesma, MVP in the United Soccer League for FCC last season, joined Saief and Greg Garza in making their first starts of the season. They replaced the injured Fanendo Adi (ankle) and Allan Cruz and Alvas Powell (national team callup).

FC Cincinnati will host the Philadelphia Union at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at Nippert Stadium.