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Amaya’s first MLS goal highlights breakout performance vs. Atlanta United

Frankie Amaya had to wait 23 appearances to finally relish the feeling of scoring his first MLS goal. Now the talented and young midfielder will hope there’s more to come with FC Cincinnati.

Jaap Stam’s team used Amaya’s second-half goal to down Group E favorites Atlanta United 1-0 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando. FC Cincinnati played majority of the match a man up after Jake Mulraney’s sending off in the 26th minute, but failed to offer much in the final third.

Amaya came to the rescue though, curling a left-footed shot from outside of the box past a diving Brad Guzan. It was a sweet strike from the 19-year-old, who was immediately tackled to the ground in celebration by teammate Adrien Regattin. FC Cincy would defend heavily for the remainder of the match, closing out a first win of the MLS is Back Tournament and overall the club’s first victory since Sept. 2019.

“The play switched sides of the field and when I saw Adrien check into the pocket, I moved a little higher upfield,” Amaya said. “When I got the ball, I took two touches and took a shot and ultimately it ended up in the back of the net. It was a good experience getting my first goal, but an even better experience of earning this win today.

“The red card certainly helped us, we tried to work the ball a little more because we knew we had the extra man. We know it wasn’t our best performance offensively, but we’re happy to get the win. It’s a big win for us against one of the top teams in MLS, whether it was 11 vs. 10 or not.”

There’s been much pressure on Amaya to deliver for FC Cincinnati since being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. The UCLA product played in 19 league games last season, but failed to find the back of the net or register an assist in what was a dismal season in whole for the then-expansion side.

After a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hell is Real rivals Columbus Crew last weekend, FC Cincinnati needed a response to avoid falling into a 0-2 hole and possible elimination from the tournament. Amaya remained in the starting lineup for Jaap Stam, not only scoring the winning goal, but completing over 90% of his passes from the No. 10 position.

“I said it after the first game too, but overall I think he [Amaya] is one of the most important players for us,” Stam said. “He will have the ability to get better which is good for him and we know other teams are talking about his importance for us as well. He’s a young player, but we can already see in him what he brings to the table. I think he’s going to continue up the right path.”

With FC Cincy needing more offensive firepower going forward, Amaya’s latest performance showed what he can bring to the table. His confidence to attempt and score from an effort 25+ yards out was impressive to see and overall the midfielder sees his role continuing to grow going forward with FC Cincy.

“I feel I have a major role for the club,” Amaya said. “Today I showed I can be more of an offensive player, but I also showed I can track back and help our wingbacks and center backs. I think I play a big role in this team, but ultimately we’re all in this together. We worked together as a unit to get this win and now we look forward to the Red Bulls.”

Stam will need more of Amaya heading into next week’s clash with the New York Red Bulls if they want to book a spot in the Round of 16. The Red Bulls have defeated FC Cincy in all three league head-to-head matchups so far, but another upset could be on the cards following the victory over Atlanta United.

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