FC Cincinnati Host Chicago Fire on Verge of Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Berth
Saturday marks the final regular season home game for FC Cincinnati as the Orange and Blue host Chicago Fire FC. Kickoff from TQL Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 1.
The Orange and Blue currently occupy fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and can clinch the club's first berth in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a win combined with draw or loss from Inter Miami CF, Orlando City SC or Columbus Crew. For more information, in addition to other clinching scenarios, visit the Playoff Watch.
Saturday night is Fan Appreciation, presented by Kroger. FC Cincinnati will celebrate the fans who have been with the club every step of the way, particularly in this year's strong campaign. The atmosphere is sure to be energetic with plenty of activations, prizes and giveaways for every fan in attendance including a chance to win a pair of 2023 Season Tickets, or a trip to an away match during the 2023 season. For more information, visit the Matchday Guide.
Very limited tickets remain for Saturday's game. Visit the ticket page at fccincinnati.com/tickets, or call 513-977-KICK to learn more. There will be no fees on tickets sold through the club.
FC CINCINNATI vs CHICAGO FIRE FC - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2022 - 7:30 p.m. ET - TQL STADIUM
HOW TO WATCH
Local TV: Star64
Local Stream: fccincinnati.com
Out of Market Stream: ESPN+
Radio: ESPN 1530
Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst), Alex Stec (sideline)
Be sure to follow @FCCincinnati on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the game.
As part of Fan Appreciation, Fan Fest begins at 4:30 p.m. at Washington Park with plenty of fan experiences and activations including player autographs, live music, food and games. Inside TQL Stadium, fans can enjoy $2 off all beverages, as well as 20% off merchandise in the team store (some restrictions apply).
Prizes and giveaways are planned throughout the match. Every fan in attendance will automatically be entered to win a pair of 2023 Season Tickets, or a trip to an away match during the 2023 season. Prizes will be awarded at halftime.
Fans watching at home will also have the opportunity to win a pair of 2023 Season Tickets. Details on how to enter will be shared throughout the broadcast on Star64 and the stream on FCCincinnati.com.
For more information on all the activations surrounding Saturday's matchup, including pre-game festivities and Washington Park activities, visit the Matchday Guide, here.
Can't make it to the game and looking for a place to watch the Orange and Blue? Head to one of the club's official Pub Partners for the season, which broadcast all home and away games and feature opportunities for fans to win prizes all season long.
FC Cincinnati lead the all-time MLS series over Chicago Fire, 3-2-2
SCOUTING CHICAGO FIRE FC (9-15-8, 35 PTS, 12TH EASTERN CONFERENCE)
Chicago Fire FC are eliminated from playoff contention, having been mathematically eliminated in a crushing 3-2 loss last time out on Sept. 17 against Charlotte FC. Up 2-0 at the half, the Fire conceded three times in the second 45 including in the 96th minute in a do-or-die matchup with Charlotte.
The Fire are led by first-year head coach and MLS veteran Ezra Hendrickson, who took over the club this offseason after three years as an assistant in Columbus. He has ties to FC Cincinnati's Pat Noonan, as the duo was part of the 2008 Crew squad which won MLS Cup and the Supporters' Shield.
Hendrickson's squad is led offensively by Swiss professional and Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri and his team-high seven goals and 11 assists. The veteran is mirrored by the young 18-year-old Jhon Durán and his six goals. On Sept. 10 against Inter Miami CF, Durán became the sixth player in MLS history to record multiple multi-goal games in a single season at age 18 or younger.
Another young stud for the Fire and a gleaming bright spot for their season has been their goalkeeper, 18-year-old Gabriel 'Gaga' Slonina. The 18-year-old Homegrown player has posted 16 career clean sheets across 43 games for the Fire and will be permanently joining Chelsea FC after the conclusion of this season. Slonina's 12 clean sheets rank second in the league this season.
Saturday will be Federico Navarro's first game since signing a new contract through the 2027 season with Chicago, as announced Sept. 27. Since joining the Fire in Summer 2021, Navarro has made 40 appearances was named the team's most valuable player in his debut season with the club. Navarro's 62 tackles won rank second in MLS in 2022.
Chicago are 1-2-2 over their last five which includes a 3-1 win over Inter Miami CF. The Fire have been inconsistent in finding the back of the net this season, having been shutout in 13 games this year. However, the Fire have been better over their last three, scoring seven goals in that span and scoring at least two goals in each game.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
9 - Luciano Acosta has provided nine career goal contributions (4 G, 5 A) against Chicago Fire FC, tied for his most against any MLS side (Atlanta United FC).
12 - Saturday marks the 12th game this season for FC Cincinnati in which the Orange and Blue will play on four, or fewer, days of rest (across all competitions). In the 11 previous games FC Cincinnati have been impressive, holding a 6-2-3 record.
31 - Chicago Fire have scored 31 non-penalty kick goals this season, the fewest in Major League Soccer this season.
FC CINCINNATI NOTES
POSTSEASON BECKONS - For FC Cincinnati, the easiest way to reach the club's first berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs is simple: Win both of the final two games, and the Orange and Blue are in.
Saturday, FC Cincinnati could clinch in front of the home crowd at TQL Stadium. For that to happen, it would take one of five scenarios:
1) CIN win + CLB loss or tie
2) CIN win + MIA loss or tie
3) CIN win + ORL loss or tie
4) CIN tie + CLT loss or tie + CLB loss or tie + ORL loss or tie + MIA loss
5) CIN tie + CLT loss or tie + CLB loss or tie + ORL loss + MIA tie
With Inter Miami CF taking the field Friday night at Toronto FC, the Orange and Blue could see themselves in a 'win and in' scenario on Saturday night. Kickoff for both Ohio-based teams is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday with the Crew taking on the New York Red Bulls in Columbus, while Orlando City SC face New York City FC on the road Sunday afternoon.
THE UNBEATEN ORANGE AND BLUE - With a draw against Seattle Sounders FC on Tuesday night, FC Cincinnati hold the longest active undefeated streak in MLS at 11 straight games. It is also the longest unbeaten run by any MLS club this season, and it will end the year as the longest such streak with the next closest active unbeaten streak at six games (SKC, NSH, PHI).
Additionally, the Orange and Blue are undefeated in 10 straight games at TQL Stadium, the second-longest active streak behind Philadelphia Union, who have not lost once this year at home.
BRENNER ON FIRE - FC Cincinnati forward Brenner has scored six goals in his past three games for FC Cincinnati. He is in the midst of the sixth 3+ game goal streak in FC Cincinnati history.
Should be find the back of the net on Saturday, he'll become just the second player in club history to score in four straight games, a feat teammate Brandon Vazquez accomplished earlier this season (July 23 - August 13).
EXTINGUISH THE FIRE - FC Cincinnati hold a winning 3-2-2 record against Chicago in seven previous meetings, but have never beaten the Fire in Cincinnati. In fact, only once in the MLS head-to-head between Cincinnati and Chicago has the home team won, a 3-0 Fire win in 2020 in front of no fans at Soldier Field.
A win over Chicago would mark the sixth opposing side that FCC have defeated at home this season for the first time in club history (MIA, ORL, PHI, CLT, SJ).
Head Coach Pat Noonan on the team's playoff scenarios
"I'm aware of the scenarios, or some of them. I still said to the group, we step on the field and win, teams are still having to chase us, and every week that that happens, it's one less week that they can catch us. So here we are with teams that have three or two [games] to play. We're in a good spot. But the teams that are chasing us are also going to be taking points off of each other. I think if we can get three points on the weekend, we're in a good position."
2023 FC Cincinnati Season Ticket Memberships are now available. Season Ticket Members are guaranteed the best seats at the best prices for every match at TQL Stadium in 2023, in addition to access to exclusive events, discounts on merchandise and more!
2023 Season Tickets are on sale now at fccincinnati.com/tickets. Fans looking for more information can contact a dedicated FC Cincinnati representative at (513) 977-5435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
FC Cincinnati are playing their fourth season of MLS competition in 2022, and their second playing at TQL Stadium. For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team's official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati. Additionally, fans are encouraged to download the team's official mobile app on the Apple App Store or Google Play for instant access to mobile tickets, team content and match notifications.
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