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Luciano Acosta Dazzles and Stuns as FC Cincinnati Topple Philadelphia Union 4-3

June 19, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

In a return home after 20 days away from TQL Stadium, Luciano Acosta delivered magic again and again for FC Cincinnati, scoring at the death to give a battled tested 4-3 victory over Philadelphia Union.

Acosta, who dribbled through an opposing box packed with Union players before picking the corner and beating the keeper in the 90+10 minute, tallied two goals and an assist on the night to give FCC its ninth win in 10 matches.

With the heat index showing a real feel of 99 Fahrenheit, and with hydration breaks needed to ensure player health, FCC battled the heat and saw out the match in comfortable fashion as fitness proved to be the key for the hosts. After the goal by Acosta to win it, and again after over 115 game minutes of play, many players simply fell to the cool TQL Stadium grass in exhaustion.

Despite the heat, FC Cincinnati battled time and time again to earn the victory.

It was right before the first hydration break of the night that FC Cincinnati struck, with a familiar combination of Acosta and Kevin Kelsy giving FCC the lead. In the 28 minute, Acosta floated in a perfectly accurate cross from near the FCC coaches box that found an unmarked Kelsy who got just enough of the cross to redirect it to the far post and past Philadelphia keeper Oliver Semmel. The goal, which gave Acosta his 92nd career helper and moved him to ninth all-time was the third headed assist he had given Kelsy this season and Kelsy's fourth goal of the season.

Philadelphia though would find an equalizer before half. After a cross was initially defended the ensuing loose ball in the box fell perfectly to a barely on-side Tai Baribo who one touch shot the bouncing ball through a screened Roman Celentano and into the back of the net. It was the first goal of Baribo's MLS career.

The defense - which had largely looked strong for the first half - was tested on the chaotic moment and couldn't clear the chance, highlighting the absences of starting CB's Miles Robinson and Matt Miazga.

FC Cincinnati struck back quickly in the second half though and retook the lead with a converted penalty in the 49th minute by Luciano Acosta, who sent the keeper the wrong way on an opportunity won thanks to a foul taken by Yuya Kubo. The goal was Acosta's eighth of the season and second from the spot.

But The Union would not go away quietly, and found another equalizer from Jesus Bueno, who finished off a corner kick that cleared all other action to the back post.

Shortly thereafter though, Argentine magic struck again. But this time it was not the 2023 MLS MVP, it was Luca Orellano, who stepped up to the halfway line and spotted the keeper off his line and unleashed a bolt that sailed over the keepers head and tucked itself neatly under the bar and rolled off the back netting for an instant Goal of the Year candidate.

The goal, which registered a zero (0) xG per, was the fourth goal of the season for the Argentine wingback. Pavel Bucha, who made the pass to Orellano at the midfield mark, registered the assist in a pass he certainly never expected would result in his fifth of the season.

With the heat providing a crushing blanket of pressure on both clubs, FC Cincinnati Head Coach Pat Noonan needed to manage both the moment and player fitness to see out the match. Kipp Keller (who started the match as the central center back) was forced to exit due to an apparent injury, and Nick Hagglund (who is still building his fitness after off-season surgery) was also substituted out in the second half. The subs meant that by the 74th minute, and looking to see out the match, the only formal center back on the field was Ian Murphy.

With the 90 minutes coming to an end however, Philadelphia found the equalizer in similar fashion to the first two. A cross through the box was won on the far side by a Philly head, crossing back centrally off the head where Baribo was once again ready to tap it in despite Celentano's diving effort to come back across the goal line.

But at the death, in what could have been the last touch of the game if not for the goal, Acosta delivered the victory strike. With the win, FC Cincinnati brings their record to 12-3-3 with 39 points. The victory also improves FCC's home record to 5-2-2.

FCC will return to action quickly with a weekend fixture at home against the New England Revolution, finishing the season series with the Eastern Conference foe after defeating them 2-1 at Gillette Stadium earlier this season.The Orange and Blue will then head to the Lone Star state to take on FC Dallas the following weekend.

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