FC Cincinnati has their position clinched. They are the Supporters’ Shield champions of the 2023 MLS season and will celebrate that fact post-match with the gathered crowd at TQL Stadium. But there is still plenty to play for as The Orange and Blue prepare to make their Audi MLS Cup Playoff run after finishing the final three matches of the regular season.
On the table still for FCC is the MLS points record of 74 points, a milestone that was not always on the minds of FCC coaches and players. Still, now that it is available to them, it is something to aim for. Needing wins in their final three matches to set the record, FCC will be challenged to get to that mark, but feel they have the skill and depth to win the milestone.
“I think guys are in a really good place in terms of recovery and our selections for the starting group are certainly strong,” FCC head coach Pat Noonan said Monday after returning to Cincinnati. “(We have a) pretty good idea of what the lineup will look like and who will be in reserve but we’ll still have a few more conversations to make sure everybody’s physically okay and is recovering.”
Opposing The Orange and Blue is a New York Red Bulls side with much to play for. Just three points outside the playoff line, the Empire State club desperately needs a result to keep their postseason dreams alive.
“They don’t care that we won a Supporters’ Shield on the weekend. They’re trying to earn a playoff spot,” Noonan said of his opponent. “We need to be up for that challenge. They’re gonna make this game very difficult in a lot of ways, and if we’re not up for it, we’ll find ourselves disappointed.”
“You know what you’re going to get in a Red Bulls game,” defender Nick Hagglund said. “It’s gonna be chaotic. It’s gonna be a lot of pressure. And they’re desperate. I think that’s one of the most dangerous types of teams. So we just have to be ready for that.”
FC CINCINNATI at Toronto FC – WEDNESDAY, October 4, 2023 – 7:30 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium
Stream: Free on Apple TV
TV Talent (English): Tony Husband (PXP) & Ross Smith (Analysis)
TV Talent (Spanish): Sergio Perez (PXP) & Miguel Gallardo (Analysis)
Radio: ESPN 1530
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst)
Wednesday’s match will be the 13th all-time meeting between FC Cincinnati and RBNY, and the third meeting this season across all competitions.
FC Cincinnati earned a dramatic come from behind victory at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, July 12, with Obinna Nwobodo earning the match winner in extra time off a corner kick.
All time FCC has played the Red Bulls to a 4-4-4 record. Historically the two have played defensive battles, with eight of 12 matches consisting of two goals or fewer.
FC CINCINNATI NOTES
MVP Front Runner– FC Cincinnati captain Luciano Acosta currently leads the MLS Golden Boot Award race with 15 goals and 13 assists. The award is given annually to each season’s top goal scorer, with assists being the first tiebreaker. He is tied with Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar and Atlanta United FC’s Giorgos Giakoumakis with 15 goals. Still, he leads on assists with 12 to their 10 and 3.
Acosta assisted on the winning goal Saturday night, which helped FCC secure the Supporters Shield. Acosta threaded the needle to Aaron Boupendza, who beat the keeper with a curling shot into the netting. Acosta is also a leading candidate for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP.
Goal of the Year - FC Cincinnati’s Álvaro Barreal has been nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award for the most spectacular goal scored in the world this year. The goal is his volley against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal, scoring the game-winner on a corner kick that he fired into the upper corner.
The nod makes him the fourth MLS player to be nominated and the first from a U.S. Open Cup goal.
FC Cincinnati fans can vote on the award against the ten other nominees here.
Midweek Magic - Wednesday will mark the 20th time since Pat Noonan became head coach that The Orange and Blue have played midweek matches. In that span, FCC are an impressive 11-1-7 when playing on a Tuesday or Wednesday and 8-0-3 in 2023.
Looking for a sweep - FC Cincinnati are looking to sweep a team for the fourth time this season after defeating Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena earlier this season. FCC recently completed a sweep of Toronto FC with their win Saturday, marking the third sweep of the season for The Orange and Blue and the sixth in its MLS history.
Clean run of play - FC Cincinnati have gone a season-long 180 minutes without a yellow card. Due to the good behavior, multiple FCC players have picked up good behavior incentives, removing a yellow card from their records for suspension purposes. Obinna Nwobodo was the most recent of the bunch, meaning he will be available for every game for the rest of the season.
SCOUTING New York Red Bulls (8-13-10, 34 PTS., 12TH EASTERN CONFERENCE)
The New York Red Bulls enter Wednesday’s midweek match just three points off the playoff
line but with a game in hand over their cross-town rival NYCFC, who currently occupy the eighth position in the table. RBNY have earned points in three of their last four matches, but with the schedule winding down and opportunities becoming more limited by the day, they will be desperate for points.
11th in MLS in goals allowed but 26th in goals scored, the Red Bulls are known for their chaotic style led by head coach Troy Lesesne in his first season as head coach after taking over on May 8, 2023. Since taking over, the South Carolina-born gaffer has brought his club to a 10-9-7 record over 26 matches.
Bronx native Omir Fernandez leads the Red Bulls in scoring with six goals and three assists in 20 starts. Former FCC midfielder Frankie Amaya is second in scoring with four goals and five assists in 19 starts. His five assists are also most on the club.
Colombia defender Andrés Reyes leads the club's defense, owning the lead in interceptions (56) and tackles (29) for the Red Bulls.
Goalkeeper Carlos Coronel has started all 31 matches for the original New York club this season. The 26-year-old Brazilian has earned seven clean sheets while making 50 saves. Since joining the club from Philadelphia Union in 2021, Coronel has been a staple for RBNY, missing just one MLS match over three seasons and making 98 starts for the club. In 2021, he led all of MLS with 13 clean sheets.