PREVIEW| FC Cincinnati host D.C. United looking for three-point performance at home


FC Cincinnati continue their grueling early season schedule by welcoming D.C. United to TQL Stadium Sunday for the club’s second home MLS match of the season.

Undefeated in league play, but coming off of a frustrating defeat in Concacaf Champions Cup midweek, The Orange and Blue are looking to bounce back and secure their first home MLS victory of 2024.

Despite the busy schedule, seeing FCC play their sixth game in three weeks on a stretch of what will amount to eight games in 25 days, the expectations are clear. No matter the surroundings or other Cup competitions, earning three points in league play is vital.

“We expect to win games at home,” head coach Pat Noonan said. “That's how we're approaching it. … We know we've missed out on two opportunities early on with [Thursday] night's performance and then our opener against Toronto. We need to reward our fans the same way we did last year with results, so that'll be the expectation.”

FC Cincinnati’s midweek fixture against Liga MX side CF Monterrey may have left cause for concern for some as for the second time this season, FCC could not score a goal at home, an occurrence that only happened once in all of 2023. But despite the result, the performance was an encouraging one for so early in the calendar.

“Disappointing result, but encouraging performance. So it's a little bit of an uphill battle based on missed opportunities. …” Noonan said heading into Sunday’s fixture. “But if the group can perform like that consistently, we'll be, I think, better positioned to get results. So, that part, I thought, (we) did a lot of good things."

D.C. United entered the match on the upswing. With a new coach on the sidelines in Troy Lesesne, and an exciting result in their last match when they came back from a two-goal deficit on the road to earn a result in Portland, the new look D.C. United will be a formidable challenge to a FCC team on short rest.

“They've shown to be, in both games, aggressive in how they step up their pressure. Quick in transitions,” Noonan said of his opponent. “Obviously with Troy [Lesesne], and a little bit of familiarity with his time with the Red Bulls, there's similarities there, but, we'll focus just on D.C.'s group.

“It'll be a challenging game, no question. And a lot of it will have to do with how we recover and where we think we need to make some rotations just to stay fresh."

FC CINCINNATI vs. D.C. United – Sunday, March 10, 2024 – 3:00 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium

Be sure to follow @FCCincinnati on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the game.

All-time versus D.C. United

FC Cincinnati have struggled all-time against D.C. United, owning a 2-5-3 record in 10 appearances, all MLS action. Since Noonan took over as manager in 2022, The Orange and Blue are 2-2-0 against the MLS charter club, splitting wins at home and on the road.

FCC earned their first ever win against United on October 9, 2022 in a 5-2 result at Audi Field.

Sunday’s matchup will be the 11th all-time meeting between the two clubs, and the fourth at TQL Stadium since its opening. The last time the two teams met, D.C. United convincingly earned the 3-0 victory at Audi Field.

Luciano Acosta’s three goals against his former club are the most in club history against D.C., adding two assists to his tally as well.


Another park, another Sunday – Sunday’s home match will be just the 27th match on a Sunday in club history, but the second in 2024 and first time the club has played consecutive home matches on a Sunday. Next week's away fixture at New England Revolution will also be on a Sunday, marking three of the first four MLS matches will be played on the first day of the week to start the season.

Old stomping grounds – Acosta takes on his old MLS club where he played 137 matches across all competitions and scored 25 goals across four seasons in the nation's capital. In 2024, Acosta has earned two assists in four starts but is still looking for his first goal of the season.

The Cincinnati Kid is back – After months of rehabilitation due to hamstring surgery, Nick Hagglund has returned to training and is available for selection moving forward per Noonan. Hagglund missed all of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoff run after undergoing surgery and the first five games of 2024, meaning his injury forced him out of just 9 games.

On two days rest – The Orange and Blue have been quality at delivering results on short rest, a hallmark of the tenure Noonan has put together at FC Cincinnati. In 2024, FCC are undefeated with a 2-0-1 record on two days' rest, earning results at Chicago and home to Toronto and Cavalier FC. Under Noonan, FCC are 13-2-4 when taking on less than three days’ rest.

SCOUTING D.C. United (1-0-1, tied 2nd Eastern Conference)

D.C. United are under new management after the club parted ways with legendary English star Wayne Rooney as manager, making way for former New York Red Bulls interim boss Lesesner.

Lesesne took over RBNY in 2023 as an interim head coach in May 2023 and helped turn their season around, making the playoffs while earning a 14-10-8 record across 32 games. While some speculated that he would be retained full time, New York decided to move on and he was quickly retained by D.C. to take on his first full-time head coaching role in MLS.

FC Cincinnati fans would be familiar with Lesesne (and his signature style of wearing suits on the sidelines) as The Orange and Blue defeated the RBNY side led by Lesesne in Round One of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Through two games the new manager has brought a new style of play to D.C. that he did not show while leading Red Bulls. With a relentless press and vertical style of play, United have been one of the most aggressive teams off the ball in MLS this season. Per Opta, the nation's capital club has had the most intense pressure defense in the league, averaging a defensive intervention once every 6.9 passes. It is clear how D.C. wants to play, prioritizing pressuring the back line with forwards to create turnovers in the opponent's zone and quickly playing direct up the field when winning balls in the defensive end to spring chances.

Lesesne was not the only addition to the club this offseason. Finnish defensive midfielder Matti Peltola was brought in to fill their third DP slot, joining striker Christian Benteke and Polish veteran Mateusz Klich in the spine of the formation. Peltola, 21, came over on a free from Finish side HJK Helsinki as a young DP, allowing for flexibility in future transfers.

MLS lifer and longtime Toronto FC keeper Alex Bono has started both matches for United this season, allowing three goals with eight saves. Bono made nine starts for D.C. last season in his first season outside of Toronto, where he made 129 starts over eight seasons.