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In a Stadium Far, Far Away, FC Cincinnati Break Out Quick, Hold on to Win Third Straight in 1-0 Duel at Orlando City SC

May 4, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

It was like a thousand voices all cried out at once, and then, silence. FC Cincinnati played the rebels Saturday night at INTER&Co Stadium in downtown Orlando, Florida, attacking a fully operational Death Star and earning a 3-1 result to improve to 6-2-3 with 21 points on Star Wars night at Orlando's home grounds.

FC Cincinnati captain and 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acosta got things started in a hurry, scoring the fastest goal in club history 17 seconds into the match on a perfectly lofted long ball pass from DeAndre Yedlin. The club's all-time leading goal scorer added to his tally with his fifth goal of the season and 45th all-time by timing a run perfectly so as to sneak behind the enemy back line to receive the pass and dribble through three defenders before leaving the Orlando City SC goalie statuesque as he fired a shot home to give FCC the 1-0 lead.

Orlando did its best to strike back quickly, putting on nine shots, several that either Roman Celentano (who made his return to the starting eleven after missing four matches) parried away or ricocheted off the posts and away from danger.

The Orange and Blue continued their forward offensive though, weathering an early storm and pushed forward when Yuya Kubo sprung free for a breakaway attack but was taken down from behind to end the attempt. After play stopped next, the referee paused the action to go to the VAR monitor where he then deemed the Orlando City SC defender was guilty of a DOGSO foul (denial of a goal scoring opportunity) and was issued a red card and FCC was awarded a free kick just outside of the box. Meaning, FCC would play the final 65 minutes of the match with a man advantage and a one goal lead.

With the man advantage FC Cincinnati dominated possession to close the half as Orlando looked to protect its net with 10 men behind the ball and wait for the visiting side to be the aggressors with hopes of breaking out of the counter. A strategy that had some momentum behind it at times but never resulted in a shot on target.

The second half started with exactly one of those breakout moments as Orlando used the kickoff to rush forward and get a shot on target with Celentano off his line early. What looked to be a clear equalizing goal was thwarted by Ian Murphy's keen defense to clear the shot off the line and away from danger.

FC Cincinnati turned to their bench early in the half to see out the match though, with Bret Halsey coming on for the assist giving Yedlin in the 55 minute. Newcomer Kevin Kelsy was also brought on to strengthen the attack in the 63 minute, subbing on for Corey Baird, making his club debut after his loan was announced earlier in the week.

Acosta also made a rare early substitution, making way for Gerardo "Dado" Valenzuela in the same sub window. Though, with Acosta on four yellow cards, needing just one more to earn a suspension for accumulation, his early exit ensured his availability for the club's next match, a visit to Columbus Crew.

FC Cincinnati saw its advantage disappear though in the 79th minute as Bret Halsey was shown a second yellow card for poor sportsmanship, bringing the home crowd back to life and making it an even strength game for the final 11 minutes of the match.

With the result, as the standings sit at full time for the match, FC Cincinnati retained their place in the standings but now sit in sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference and Supporters' Shield standings. With the win, they also keep pace with first place Inter Miami CF, who lead the table with a three point advantage but FC Cincinnati have a game in hand over the club.

FC Cincinnati will be back in action next weekend as they make the trek north to Columbus, Ohio for the first playing of Hell is Real in 2024 at Field. The Orange and Blue will return to TQL Stadium for their next home match after that on May 15 to face Atlanta United FC.

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