Both FC Cincinnati and New York City FC will try to improve on their finishing when they meet on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
There will be an added element of difficulty for NYCFC (5-6-2, 17 points), who will be without forward Heber for the remainder of the season as he suffered an ACL tear in a 1-0 loss against Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
His 87th-minute exit, followed by Alejandro Pozuelo's game-winning penalty in the 90th minute, ruined what was shaping up as a promising evening for the first hour-plus for New York.
"I think 70 minutes of this game was really, really good," said NYCFC manager Ronny Deila, who saw his club's six-match unbeaten run end. "Again, you have to kill teams off when you have those chances we have, and they don't have anything. So for me it's like, what I saw the first 70 minutes is something I can be really proud of. We were meeting one of the best teams and they were struggling with the intensity and how we played, how we moved the ball."
NYCFC led Toronto 16-9 in shots -- 8-3 in shots on target -- in the hard-luck loss. And though the club loses Heber, his one goal in 2020 had fallen way short of his club-leading 15 in 2019. Midfielder Alex Ring leads the club with three goals.
Cincinnati (3-6-4, 13 points) also slightly led the Philadelphia Union in shots and efforts on target in their latest match, a 0-0 home draw on Wednesday night.
It was the second consecutive defensive shutout for manager Jaap Stam's side, which currently sits in 11th place and one point below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. To get above that line, Stam knows his team's offensive production will also have to improve. Cincinnati has scored only twice in its last four matches, with one goal each from Haris Medunjanin and Brandon Vazquez.
"An important point, you can say," Stam said of the scoreless draw. "We would have loved to have three. I think we deserved to have three, as well. If you look at the opportunities that we had, that we created ... but the important thing still is that you need to finish, and you need to score."
--Field Level Media