The glow of the trophies and glory grows ever more luminescent as FC Cincinnati continues their march towards the end of the season with a home match against Charlotte FC.
The Orange and Blue return to their fortress, TQL Stadium, for the first time in three weeks, looking to secure three points and inch closer to a Supporters' Shield clinching scenario. FCC have earned points in their two matches since playing at home on September 2 and enter the night's match with Charlotte FC with a 9-point lead in the table.
Their opponents enter the match, fighting for their playoff lives. With 33 points and six games to play, CLT FC sit three points back of the playoff line and, despite their results, have played some of their best soccer of late.
"Results-wise, it hasn't gone their way, but if you look at the games, in three of their last four, they've dropped leads and points late," FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said of his opponent. "So not only are they in games, they've been the better team in a lot of those games.
"It's a dangerous team that isn't getting the results but is performing well in my opinion."
FC Cincinnati is coming off its first loss at home and looking to chase down the home points record. With wins in their final three home games, The Orange and Blue would own the best home record in MLS history.
FC CINCINNATI v.s. Charlotte FC – SATURDAY, September 23, 2023 – 7:30 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium
Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Talent (English): Steve Cangialosi (PXP) & Danny Higginbotham (Analysis)
TV Talent (Spanish): Pablo Ramirez (PXP) & Carlos Ruiz (Analysis)
Radio: FOX Sports 1360
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst)
Saturday’s match will mark the fourth all-time matchup between FC Cincinnati and Charlotte FC, with a 1-1-1 record. FC Cincinnati battled back with two second-half goals in the first club meeting this season, earning a draw on July 8 at Bank of America Stadium. Álvaro Barreal was the difference maker in that match, earning a penalty kick in the 52nd minute that Luciano Acosta converted before scoring the equalizer on a worldy in the 68th minute.
CLT FC made their MLS debut last season, and each team won their home match, with FCC winning 2-0 at TQL Stadium and losing 2-0 on the road.
FC CINCINNATI NOTES
Oh Captain My Captain– The club announced Friday that FC Cincinnati captain and all-time leading goal scorer in MLS play Luciano Acosta has signed a three-year contract extension with the club, securing his place through 2026.
Acosta converted on a 90+7 minute penalty to earn a draw for The Orange and Blue against Montréal Wednesday night to earn his 14th goal of the season. A leading candidate for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP, Acosta is in second place in goals scored this season and fourth in assists with 11.
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 semi-final, 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 10 other nominees here.
Comeback kids - FC Cincinnati have the best record in MLS when conceding first this season, owning a 3-4-3 record in 10 matches. The Orange and Blue have conceded first in eight of their last nine games but are 4-2-3 in that span.
With a .400 winning percentage when trailing at half, FCC also owns the best record in the league.
Good on short rest - Saturday’s match will mark the 15 time under Pat Noonan when The Orange and Blue will play on two days’ rest. In that span, FCC are 9-2-3, losing just one game at home.
Out of action - Matt Miazga will be unavailable for the match after receiving a yellow card in FCC’s game with CF Montreal on Wednesday. The card marked his eighth yellow on the season and thus earned him a one-game suspension.
This is the second time Miazga has been suspended for yellow cards, the first being against Columbus Crew on August 20.
Back to the Fortress - Saturday will mark 21 days between matches at TQL Stadium. FC Cincinnati has been dominant at home but is looking to rebound after suffering their first defeat at home in their last time out, falling 1-0 to Orlando City SC on September 2.
FCC owns a 12-1-1 record at home with three matches remaining. Should The Orange and Blue win all three games, it would set the MLS record for home victories and points.
SCOUTING Charlotte (7-9-12, 46 PTS., 11TH EASTERN CONFERENCE)
Charlotte has found ways to earn points this season, earning the second most draws on the season with 12. In their current run of form, The Crown have earned nine draws in their last 12 matches, including an FC Cincinnati draw at Bank of America Stadium on July 8th when The Orange and Blue scored twice in the second half to earn the result.
Since CLTF and FCC last met, The Crown are 1-1-4 in MLS play. Earning results against LAFC, Orlando City SC, Nashville SC, D.C. United, and Philadelphia Union.
Karol Swiderski and Enzo Copetti lead Charlotte’s attack with 13 combined goals and five assists. The pair of DP’s have logged over 3500 minutes this season and have defined the offensive structure for CLT FC all season.
In net The Crown have not have as consistent of a keeper situation as FC Cincinnati, but have a definitive starter. Kristijan Kahlina is one of three keepers to make starts this season, and leads the group with 18 starts. The Croatian keeper made two saves on four shots in FCC’s last visit to Charlotte.
Head coach Christian Lattanzio is in his second season with Charlotte, his first as full-time head coach after being named interim after 14 matches into Charlotte FC’s inaugural season. Under the Italian gaffer the club has gone 29-32-18.
Noonan highlighted Charlotte’s improved defense as a key difference he has seen in CLTFC’s performance since the last time the two clubs met.
“I think defensively they’re much more aggressive and looking to get pressure on the ball,” Noonan said. “Different ideas of how they're utilizing their personnel to create advantages. Their outside backs being central in certain ways is unique and it's caused problems for their opponents.”