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FC Cincinnati Keeps the Winning Ways Rolling with 3-1 Victory Over St. Louis CITY SC

May 18, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

CINCINNATI - With rotation to the starting XI for the third game in eight days, FC Cincinnati Head Coach Pat Noonan deployed a lineup with key starters missing but continued to get results. The Orange and Blue won their sixth consecutive match and their ninth of the season in thrilling fashion Saturday night, taking down St. Louis CITY SC 3-1.

With Miles Robinson out of the starting lineup for the first time in 2024, the defensive backline didn't miss a step as Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund took over for him expertly on the right side of the three center backs. Gerardo 'Dado' Valenzuela got the start again - starting in back-to-back matches for the first time in his young career - and played an instrumental role in the night's first goal.

In a transition run up the field from FC Cincinnati after a period of stout defense, Valenzuela was tackled from behind just before getting a touch pass off for Luciano Acosta. With the referee playing advantage, Acosta worked a bit of his magic to catch a defender in a bad position in the box that resulted in a foul and a penalty kick. Acosta converted the penalty kick with ease after Valenzuela was attended to, giving FC Cincinnati a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.

The goal was Acosta's seventh of the season and 14th goal contribution in 14 games. It was also the first penalty kick awarded and converted this season from FC Cincinnati in MLS play. With the goal as well, Acosta set a new MLS club record with goal contributions in eight consecutive matches.

With the lead secure at halftime, FC Cincinnati came out firing and a moment of passing brilliance from Acosta gave them a second goal when Yuya Kubo fired a shot top shelf for his fourth goal of the season. Kubo, who's previous MLS high in scoring was three goals in 2020, set a new personal best with the club on the goal.

Disaster struck, though, in the 54 minute when an errant and heavy pass back to the keeper from Matt Miazga was sent too far for Roman Celentano to collect and harmlessly rolled into the back of the FC Cincinnati net giving St. Louis CITY SC its first goal of the game and halving the lead for FCC.

The mishap energized the visitors after the Kubo goal seemed to put FC Cincinnati in the driver's seat to start the half, but FCC weathered the storm, and substitutions around the 60 minute mark brought on fresh legs and fresh ideas.

With Sergio Santos and Kevin Kelsy coming on to replace strikers Kubo and Valenzuela, the duo unlocked an element of speed and verticality for FCC. The combination of such opened up the space for FC Cincinnati's third goal of the evening.

With some nifty footwork to drive through the box, Acosta feathered his third assist of the evening to Santos to repair the two goal lead as the Brazilian speedster rushed on the scene to tap in the shot to an empty net. Restoring the two goal lead and giving FCC a third goal in a game for the first time this MLS season.

Luciano Acosta, who contributed to every goal on the night for FCC, was subbed off in the 85 minute and due to his not getting a yellow card, was rewarded as one of his yellows will now be reduced for good behavior meaning he is no longer in danger of suspension.

His exit from the match though, did come with controversy, as the captain left the field in longer than 15 seconds, his substitute (Malik Pinto) was barred from entering the match for two minutes, a new rule for the 2024 MLS season that FCC had not yet experienced.

Once Pinto entered, the defense continued to work, and saw out the match with a tidy bit of defending and some expert work by the otherwise flawless Celentano. The keeper made three saves late with little reason for worry and came out of his net to intercept crosses twice to ice the game in extra time.

After five minutes of extra time, the ref blew the whistle and FCC were victorious. With the win, FC Cincinnati improved to 9-2-3 and tallied their 30th point of the season. The victory continued to secure their spot in second place in the Supporters' Shield table but could move them into first if other results bear out in their favor.

FC Cincinnati look to continue their undefeated month of May in their return to BMO Field for a fixture with Toronto FC on May 25. Last time FCC visited Toronto they claimed the 2023 Supporters' Shield with a 3-2 victory. They'll return home to TQL Stadium for a midweek match after that with Nashville SC on May 29.

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