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Kenny Saief leads FC Cincinnati to victory with goal, assist in 1st MLS start

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — A goal and an assist from midfielder Kenny Saief helped FC Cincinnati to a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

The visitors from Cincinnati were missing six players heading into the Eastern Conference clash. International duty and injuries meant four fresh faces for a new-look FC Cincinnati side that had taken four points from their previous two matches. Of those making their first starts were defender Forrest Lasso, who made his MLS debut, and was joined by Greg Garza, Emmanuel Ledesma, and Kenny Saief in the starting XI.

Saief made the biggest impression. Making just his second appearance for FC Cincinnati after arriving on loan from RSC Anderlecht in early March, Saief was active throughout the match and would prove critical to his side’s success. 

Saief steals the show

The U.S. international made his first mark on the match by setting up the opening goal just before halftime. A quick counter after a New England turnover in midfield ended with Saief squaring to Kekuta Manneh, who finished with an easy tap-in in the 44th-minute. The assist was his second of the season, having previously teed-up Roland Lamah’s equalizer at Atlanta during Week 2.

In the 65th-minute, Saief got his own name on the scoresheet. After seeing New England fail to clear a corner, a quick exchange between Emmanuel Ledesma and Manneh found its way to Saief. He calmly smashed home the pass from Manneh for FC Cincinnati’s second and final goal of the evening.

The midfielder wouldn’t be letting it go to his head though.

“I’m happy but I feel like there’s a lot to work on still,” Saief said. “I just started so there’s still a lot of things to work on individually and as a team also. We’re very happy we took three points and we’re looking forward to our next game already.” 

Mar 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; FC Cincinnati midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma (45) clears the ball away from New England Revolution defender Edgar Castillo (8) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati’s hot streak continues

The win is FC Cincinnati’s second in a row and extends the expansion club’s unbeaten run to three matches. It also marked the club’s first three points on the road in Major League Soccer. That result also comes on the back of a second straight clean sheet for goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who has now gone 265 minutes without conceding. 

Given the absences heading into the match, the significance of the result didn’t pass by FCC head coach Alan Koch. “It’s huge,” Koch shared after the final whistle. “Obviously, coming on the road and getting three points is a major achievement for our club.”

Though with expectations low heading into the season, Koch also acknowledged his team might be punching above their weight.

“We are big-time exceeding expectations. But we will take [the win] and we know we will go fight in every single game,” Koch continued. “If you had said to me that at the start of the season after four games — and after having to play these particular four games that we’ve had — that we would have seven points, I would have said you’re crazy. ”

The Orange and Blue will look to continue their good run of form when they return to Nippert Stadium to meet the Philadelphia Union Saturday night. 

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