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Red Bulls hang on to beat FC Cincy in season opener

HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 01: New York Red Bulls defender Kyle Duncan (6) celebrates after he scores during the first half of the Major League Soccer game between the New York Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati on March 1, 2020 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

While the 2020 campaign is expected to be a difficult one, a meeting with last year’s Eastern Conference bottom dwellers — FC Cincinnati — got the New York Red Bulls’ 2020 season started on the right foot with a 3-2 victory.

A turbulent offseason for the Red Bulls featured key losses as steady goalkeeper Luis Robles, prolific striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, and rising defender Kemar Lawrence moved on while the franchise filled those voids from within — whether that be reserves or from the youth ranks.

The promising start against a weaker opponent suggests that the Red Bulls might have some pieces to build on.

One of Lawrence’s replacements on the outside of the defense — Kyle Duncan — recorded a goal and an assist to start his first full season as a fixture in New York’s 11. The 22-year-old appeared in just 17 games over the last two seasons.

He opened the scoring in the 16th minute when a pass by Florian Valot from the left wing to the right of the box found Duncan wide open. After one touch, Duncan slotted the chance past Cincinnati keeper Spencer Richey to get the Red Bulls on the board.

Eleven minutes later, he played provider as his header near midfield led Valot down the right side, whose cross found Kaku. The Argentinian midfielder made no mistake, firing his first touch from the middle of the box with the outside of his left foot into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Trouble brewed for New York in the second half, though, as Cincinnati pulled to within one less than a minute into the frame.

From the left, Brandon Vazquez shimmied his way into Red Bulls’ box before slotting a pass to an open Allan Cruz, who finished with ease.

Daniel Royer provided some much-needed insurance for New York in the 70th minute when he weaved through three different Cincinnati defenders to move just inside the penalty spot before lifting a shot over Richey and into the goal.

But a momentary lapse ensured that the cruising Red Bulls would have to sweat out the final moments of the match.

A miscue from the defense sent in Jordan Locadia alone on Red Bulls’ keeper David Jensen, who made three saves on the day.

Locadia’s initial low shot was saved well by the legs of the Jensen, but the rebound squeaked through to the Cincinnati attacker, who followed his shot and served it into the open goal with seven minutes to go.

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