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FC Cincinnati Return to Toronto Looking to Extend Winning Streak

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

The last time FC Cincinnati went to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it felt like the first of many playoff games that would come as 2023 came to a close. Of course, that was not literally the case. The visit to BMO Field was a regular season matchup, one of 34, and it was still weeks away from decision day.

The result was not a do-or-die situation, but it certainly felt like the first game of the MLS season with more tangible stakes. FCC went into that game knowing a win would clinch the Supporters' Shield, the club's first MLS trophy. Other results could have ultimately done the job, but a win made it certain. A win that did eventually come as FCC were named champions that night and celebrated on the field, in the locker rooms, and everywhere else back to Cincinnati, where their fans waited for them.

On a smaller scale, potential history waits for FCC again as they trek north of the border to Toronto. Winners of their last six games, FC Cincinnati, would become just the fourth team since 2000 to win seven consecutive games. They would also inch closer to the milestone of achieving a perfect month of May. Dating back to last season, FCC is undefeated in May with a 10-0-1 record.

The last time FCC saw TFC this season was on opening night of the MLS season. With all the fanfare of the new year's opening, Toronto spoiled the party by keeping a clean sheet and earning a nil-nil draw to open the 2024 season. Now, both clubs are in very different spots. FCC, with their aforementioned win streak, currently leads the league in points per game, and Toronto has had a resurgence after finishing 2023 at the bottom of the table.

"I think of a team that's certainly improved, and have a better idea of each other," FCC Head Coach Pat Noonan said of Toronto. "I think they're in good form. They had a good week with advancing in the [Canadian] Cup and then the result against Montreal, so a good week for them... we'll look at a little bit of the first matchup just because there's some similarities, but typically we don't go back that far. Having said that, I think there might be a couple things that we can take from that first matchup that might come into play this weekend."

FC Cincinnati's trip north coincides somewhat similarly with how FC Cincinnati ultimately ended up breaking away and winning the Supporters' Shield in 2023. After a mixed opening to the season, FCC hit their stride in May and looks to be a team to beat to take the Shield from them. But with so much work to be done, the focus is on each individual performance rather than the larger-scale picture.

"I think the difference from where we are this year to last year was we've now won a Supporters' Shield," Noonan said of the differences. "So the expectations are that we can go and do it."

"Internally it was there last year, we just didn't talk about it. We were consistent in getting results and bringing about that conversation. This year, the only difference is we're coming off of a Supporters' Shield, so I think the guys know that they can do it and they expect to do it, we just won't be discussing it with where we're at. There's just too much that's going to happen with our group, with other teams, you know you're going into a transfer window where a lot can change across the board. The teams that are strong right now are trying to maintain it, there are teams that will go on a run, that's inevitable. What we can control is how we prepare for Toronto and trying to go and get a result. If we kind of maintain what's allowed us to be successful and not thinking too far ahead, I think we can stay in a position where when it actually the year progresses... then we can talk about FCC being a part of a Supporters' Shield race."

The Orange and Blue enter the match in second place in the Supporters Shield table with 30 points and are one point behind first-place Inter Miami CF (who also travel to Canada, going West to Vancouver). FCC does have a game in hand over Miami, so with a win Saturday night, FCC could move into first place in the table with a game in hand should Miami lose or draw to the Whitecaps.

FC Cincinnati at Toronto FC - Saturday, May 25, 2024 - 7:30 p.m. ET - BMO Field


Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

TV Talent (English, Apple): Callum Williams (PxP), Caleb Carr (Analyst)

TV Talent (Spanish, Apple): Adrian Gargia Marquez (PXP), Francisco Pinto (Analysis)

Radio: ESPN 1530

Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (PXP), Ray Gaddis (Analyst)

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

All-time vs Toronto FC

FC Cincinnati have been the better side in the all-time series with Toronto FC, winning six and losing four against Canada's first MLS club. But in the last matchup with The Reds, TFC escaped with a draw for the first-ever tie in the series between the two clubs. On the opening day of the MLS season, FCC and TFC played to a 0-0 draw, one of three draws this season for The Orange and Blue but the only draw of the year for Toronto thus far.

The last time FC Cincinnati visited Toronto, though, The Orange and Blue celebrated on the field, in the locker room, and on the flight home. FCC's 3-2 victory clinched the Supporters' Shield and gave them the club's first MLS trophy. Brandon Vazquez and Aaron Boupendza scored to give FCC the victory.

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

Captain and 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acsota has played a club-high eight matches against TFC, all starts, and has registered an impressive five goals and five assists. Sergio Santos, though, who has never scored for FCC against TFC, has six career goals against the Torontonians.


Memory - Last time at BMO Field, FC Cincinnati clinched the 2023 MLS Supporters' Shield - the first trophy in the club's MLS era - on September 30, 2023 with a 3-2 win at Toronto FC. Cincinnati became the 16th different club in MLS' 28 seasons to win the Supporters' Shield and the fifth active team to do so in its first five seasons in the league. FCC have won two-straight at BMO Field dating back to 2022, and are unbeaten under Head Coach Pat Noonan against TFC (4-0-1).

All Alone - Luciano 'Lucho' Acosta has recorded a goal contribution (goal or assist) in eight straight games. His current run is the longest active streak in MLS and tied with Lionel Messi (2/21-5/4) for the longest streak so far this season. In 2023, the longest goal contribution streak was 9 (Cucho, CLB: 4/29-6/17). In MLS history, only 11 streaks ever have reached 10+ games, with the MLS record set by Atlanta United's Josef Martínez (14) in 2019 (5/24-9/18).

In The Moonlight - FC Cincinnati have a league-high five road wins this season (5-1-1). The club has won three-straight on the road, tied for the longest road win streak in club history (2022: 4/30 at TOR; May 7 at MIN; May 14 at CHI). The current win streak is the longest active in MLS. Last season in 2023, only one road win streak reached four games (Real Salt Lake: June 3 - July 1).

I Can Dream - On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati signed FC Cincinnati Academy U17 forward Stefan Chirila [stef-ON chur-ILL-uh] as a Homegrown Player. Chirila will sign an MLS NEXT Pro contract for remainder of the 2024 season with FC Cincinnati 2 before being added to the first team roster in 2025. Chirila shined in the FC Cincinnati Academy system, scoring 41 goals across all youth competitions during the 2023-24 season and took the Golden Boot at the 2024 GA Cup.

Scouting Toronto FC (7-6-1, 22 points, 5th in Western Conference, W-L-L-W-W)

Toronto FC is in the middle of a turnaround season after finishing last place last season. Under new Head Coach John Herdman, who came to MLS after leading the Canadian National Team back to the 2022 World Cup (its first since the 1970s), Toronto has instantly seen a resurgence from its stars under Herdman. Toronto has not only seen league success but has also advanced to the TELUS Canadian Championships semi-finals.

TFC enters Saturday's match on a three-game winning streak across all competitions, including two wins in a 9-0 aggregate over CS St. Laurent (a semi-professional team from Quebec) in the quarter-finals of the Canadian Championships. In their last two league matches, they've defeated Montréal 5-1 in a rivalry match and lost 2-0 at Nashville SC. So, while Toronto had no trouble in the midweek, they are coming into the match on a shortened week.

Leading scorer Federico Bernardeschi, who has made 39 appearances for the Italian National team and over 130 appearances for legendary side Juventus, has scored six times and added three assists but will be unavailable for the match after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season in the 93rd minute of the game with Montréal, leaving him suspended for accumulation. German native Prince Owusu, who signed with the club in March, also has scored six times this season but has yet to add an assist.

Herdman has utilized a 3-4-2-1 formation in most matchups, with Owusu as the lone striker. The Italian duo of Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne, along with newly acquired forward Matty Longstaff, are supplemental attackers from deeper in the field. Kevin Long, Nicksoen Gomis and Sigurd Rosted have been the most common combination of center backs.

US Men's National Team regular Sean Johnson, who was called up as recently as this week and will join FCC's Miles Robinson at the USMNT Copa America pre-camp, has been the man in net for all but one FCC game this season, sitting out only the Nashville game due to suspension after an on-field fracas with NYCFC.

Toronto's offensive firepower exploded for a 5-1 blowout over Montreal, and after a year of winning only four games in 2023, they've already nearly doubled that tally. The biggest difference has come in the form of their star DPs, who have dominated play and pushed them forward in ways that were missing last season. With Bernardeschi out, though, and Insigne returning from injury, FCC may be getting Toronto at a good time.

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