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FC Cincinnati isn't playing like an expansion team. Just ask the clubs that faced off for the MLS Cup last season.
Cincinnati looks to continue its strong start to its inaugural campaign in MLS on Sunday when it visits a New England Revolution side that's looking for its first win of the season.
After winning a regular-season title in the USL in 2018, Cincinnati made its MLS debut March 2 in Seattle and was routed 4-1 by a Sounders team that finished second in the Western Conference last season.
It looked like it was going to be difficult for Cincinnati to get on track with its next two matches coming against defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta and runner-up Portland, but the expansion club was up to the task.
FC Cincinnati got a goal from Roland Lamah in the 86th minute March 10 in Atlanta to pull out a 1-1 draw and earn its historic first point, and Cincinnati followed that up with a resounding 3-0 win over the Timbers last Sunday in its first-ever MLS home game.
"It's great execution of what we have been working at and training (for)," defender Nick Hagglund told FC Cincinnati's official website. "We went from getting shellacked in Seattle, and a gritty performance in Atlanta. So, coming home and putting it all together a little bit, it puts confidence in the team going forward."
Cincinnati (1-1-1), though, will be short-handed this weekend with Kendall Waston, Allan Cruz, Alvas Powell and Darren Mattocks away on national team duty. Waston and Cruz both scored last week against Portland while Mattocks had an assist.
The Revolution won't have any significant losses due to national team duty, and defender Andrew Farrell might be able to make his season debut. Farrell, who started 30 games and had two goals and two assists in 2018, has been medically cleared after rupturing the retina in his left eye eight weeks ago.
"We'll see how it goes," Farrell told the Revolution's official website. "Obviously, I'm excited to be back in with the team this week. We'll see how that goes. If not, I'll keep going and keep going until I'm ready to join and help out the team."
New England is seeking a rare win as its 0-2-1 start has dropped the club to 3-11-6 in its last 20 matches.
"Everybody's hungry for points," forward Teal Bunbury said. "You can see it in the locker room. Everybody's disappointed of our results the past three games, but we have another opportunity here to be able to play at home. ... There shouldn't really be any excuses. We're playing against a good Cincinnati team."
One bright spot for the Revolution has been the play of Carles Gil. Signed as a designated player from Spanish second-division side Deportivo La Coruna, Gil has scored all three of New England's goals. He gave the Revs a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas in the season opener March 2 and scored twice last week in a 3-2 loss at Toronto FC.
Updated March 22, 2019