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FC Cincinnati Open 2024 MLS Season with Afternoon Kickoff Versus Toronto FC

February 24, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release


The 2024 MLS regular season is here, and FC Cincinnati is looking to repeat their success from a year ago while also reaching new heights.

To do that, FCC will turn the page on 2023 at Sunday's home opener. Prior to the match, a banner will be raised to commemorate the Supporters' Shield winners. But once that accolade is cemented into their home stadium, the new season starts, and the quest to not only repeat, but do more, begins.

FC Cincinnati enter their regular season campaign with a 2:30 p.m. matchup against Toronto FC, marking the first afternoon match at TQL Stadium for The Orange and Blue since April 2, 2022. It is also only the second time in club history that FCC has opened an MLS season at home.

FCC will be on 'short rest' after opening their competitive season account Thursday night with a victory at Cavalier FC of the Jamaica Premier League in Concacaf Champions Cup play. However, the challenges of early season fixture congestion are something FCC plans to tackle one match at a time.

"We're not looking past this. We have to see how we get through every game, and we got through Cavalier in a good way," head coach Pat Noonan said Saturday. "You factor in how we traveled back, had a later training session, and now going into (Saturday's training), it's things that you have to look at and talk about, but all the assessments came back strong this morning. So, hopefully we get through today in a good way and then attack Toronto with a strong group."

FC CINCINNATI vs. Toronto FC - Sunday, February 25, 2024 - 2:30 p.m. ET - TQL Stadium

HOW TO WATCH

Be sure to follow @FCCincinnati on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the game.

All-time versus TFC

FC Cincinnati have been the better side in the all-time series with Toronto FC, owning a 6-4-0 record against Canada's first MLS club. At home, FCC has beaten The Reds three times in five matches, but since moving to TQL Stadium, The Orange and Blue have been undefeated. In three home matchups, Toronto FC have never scored a goal, with FCC scoring at least twice in each match.

In a bit of fortunate irony, FCC will raise their 2023 Supporters' Shield banner before Sunday afternoon's game. FCC clinched their first MLS trophy by beating Toronto FC at BMO Field 3-2 with goals from Brandon Vazquez and Aaron Boupendza.

FC Cincinnati is currently on a four-game winning streak against TFC, dating back to April 2022, meaning Noonan is undefeated against Toronto in his time as FCC's head coach.

FC CINCINNATI NOTES

The century mark - 2023 Landon Donovan MLS MVP Luciano Acosta will make his 100th appearance as captain for The Orange and Blue across all competitions. With 181 games played as a club since joining MLS in 2018, Acosta will have been captain in 55 percent of FCC games.

Debuts and potential debuts - Newly acquired Cincinnati player Luca Orellano is one of six players on FCC's roster awaiting an MLS debut (Pavel Bucha, Paul Walters, Isaiah Foster, London Aghedo, Evan Louro). Bucha, signed from Czech Republic side Viktoria Plaźen in the offseason, made his FC Cincinnati debut Thursday in the Concacaf Champions Cup against Cavalier FC alongside fellow newcomers Miles Robinson, Corey Baird and Kipp Keller, who officially wore the Orange and Blue uniform for the first time in Jamaica.

Cloud 9 - FC Cincinnati striker Aaron Boupendza is set to start his first full season with the club after scoring five goals in 10 appearances in his 2023 MLS debut. Boupendza led all FCC players in scoring this preseason, potting five goals in four preseason friendlies. One of Boupendza's five goals in 2023 came as the game-winner against Toronto FC, ultimately securing the 2023 Supporters Shield.

Early start - Exactly one year ago Sunday, FC Cincinnati won their opening match of the season, defeating Houston Dynamo FC 2-1 at TQL Stadium, the first time FCC have ever won their opening match. FCC are 1-3-1 all-time on matchday one, but have played all but one of those matches on the road. It will also be just the 26th time FCC have played a game on a Sunday.

SCOUTING Toronto FC (2023: 15th in Eastern Conference, 22 points, 4-20-10)

Toronto FC enter the season looking for redemption after a disappointing 2023 where for just the third time in club history, and first since the league had 19 teams, they finished bottom of the league with just 22 points.

The Reds enter the season energized, with Italian talents Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne leading the charge up top. Long-time Red and staple on the Canadian International Team, Jonathan Osorio was named team captain in the offseason. U.S. international goalkeeper Sean Johnson is also back from injury to start the 2024 campaign.

TFC have made significant additions to their squad, signing Irish defender Kevin Long from Birmingham City FC of the EFL Championship and Deybi Flores from Fehérvár FC of the Hungarian First Division.

The biggest change for the 2017 domestic treble winners though is John Herdman, the former Canadian Men's National Team coach who now leads TFC in his first full season after stepping in for one match at the end of 2023. Herdman is the most successful national team coach in Canadian men's and women's national team history, winning bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics on the women's side before leading the men to their second World Cup appearance in the nation's history in 2022.

While with the national team, Herman became well known for his ability to use multiple styles to beat opponents rather than sticking with one set of formations or tactics. At one point, Herman used three radically different formations across three matches in the 2022 World Cup qualifying, prompting some in the Canadian media to refer to his style as "embracing the chaos."

Acosta, FC Cincinnati's all-time leader in goals and assists against Toronto FC, will be playing his 17th career game against the Canadian side and his eighth as a member of The Orange and Blue. Osorio, who scored twice in the last matchup between the clubs, leads TFC all-time with 341 career appearances.


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