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With Heavy Rotation to the Starting XI, FC Cincinnati Earn 'Hard Earned' 2-1 Road Victory over the New England Revolution

March 17, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

With rotation in the squad a necessity due to the physical stresses caused by early season competition and travel, FC Cincinnati pulled out all the stops to get a 2-1 win in New England Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in no small part thanks to the outstanding play of Luciano Acosta and Roman Celentano among others.

With the victory, The Orange and Blue remained undefeated in league play despite a congested schedule and nearly 10,000 miles of travel in 25 days. FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan described the victory as "hard earned" after a challenging month to open the season.

For the first time this season, Noonan listed a new formation for his starting squad, pulling one of his strikers deeper to pair alongside the attacking midfield and leaving one striker alone at the top of the formation. With Luciano Acosta starting on the bench of the first time in 2024 after a near Herculean effort earlier in the week against CF Monterrey, Dado Valenzuela stepped into his position with Corey Baird dropping to be his attacking midfield partner and Sergio Santos starting up top as the lone strike.

With the new lineup building chemistry and familiarity on the fly in the new-look formation, Roman Celentano stepped up to keep The Orange and Blue in the match. With three saves in the first half, the 2023 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist parried multiple point black shots and cleared away crosses before danger could occur.

In the second half though, FCC unleashed the offense with Acosta coming off the bench. Before the Revs could realize what happened, the 2023 MLS MVP launched forward with the attack and slid a pass to Luca Orellano to tap in for the game's opening goal.

Unfortunately, the play was called dead due to an offside before Acosta even started the run, but he would not be denied. In the 52nd minute, a curling corner kick from Acosta bounced through the box and found the head of Yuya Kubo and he guided it just across the line for the games opening goal. Two minutes later, Acosta pulled another trick out of his bag, slotting a strong free kick directly under the leaping wall from just outside the box to make it 2-0.

The Revs would get one back on an intercepted backpass by Giacomo Vrioni who shot on target from point blank range past a diving Celentano.

To see out the match, Noonan would go to his bench once again, subbing on Aaron Boupendza and Ian Murphy for the final moments. Sixteen-year-old Stiven Jimenez also made his third career MLS appearance in the 88th minute to provide fresh legs.

But it was Celentano who saved the day again, making save after save and pressuring shot takers to miss high and wide. If there was something a keeper could do to keep the ball out of the net, he did it.

Despite the tense moments, FC Cincinnati stood tall to see out the match. Miles Robinson put the emphatic stamp on the match in the final moments, sealing out a running attacker so a long pass would cross the endline harmless for a goal kick.

With the win, FC Cincinnati improved to 2-0-2 with eight points, third in the MLS Eastern Conference with a game in hand over leaders Inter Miami CF with 10 points.

FC Cincinnati return to action (in a more regularly scheduled way) next Saturday when they host New York City FC for The Orange and Blue's first night matchup at home of the MLS season. After playing eight matches in the first 25 days of the season, FCC will return to a pace more familiar to MLS clubs by playing once a week for the next eight weeks, playing eight matches over 56 days.

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