No.1 seed FC Cincinnati will host the No. 8 seed New York Red Bulls in game 1 of their Round One series in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. A rematch of last season’s opening playoff game. RBNY earned the right to face off with FCC in the Best-of-3 series by taking down No.9 Charlotte FC in the wild card game by a decisive 5-2 margin.
It will be the fourth meeting between The Orange and Blue and Red Bulls across all competitions this season, fueling a budding rivalry that has roots in FCC history dating back to its USL days. Four matches against a single club in one calendar year is the most in club history.
A game with Red Bull also represents a return to TQL Stadium after a recent visit. Four weeks ago, RBNY came to Cincinnati and earned a victory against a heavily rotated squad to spoil the celebration of lifting the Supporters’ Shield.
“They’ve been in good form,” FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said of the Red Bulls' recent run of play. “But I think our group is ready to step on the field and perform on Sunday.”
With the new playoff format, The Orange and Blue are preparing to take on the Red Bulls at least twice, as they will need two victories in the Best-of-3 series to advance to the Conference Semifinals.
“We won’t look past this first 90,” Noonan said, highlighting the attention to detail being paid for the first match in the series. “What you’ll see is each game becomes a little bit tighter. (When) you’ve seen a team enough times where typically it comes down to one player, one moment that decides the game and that’s really been the case with our previous matchups against Red Bull this year. So in the playoffs I don’t expect anything different.”
FC CINCINNATI vs Red Bull New York – Sunday, October 29, 2023 – 8 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium
Stream: Free on Apple TV
Apple TV Talent (English): Kevin Egan (PXP) & Kyndra De St. Aubin (Analysis)
Apple TV Talent (Spanish): Alejandro Figueredo (PXP) & Jamie Macias (Analysis)
FS1 TV Talent (English): Nate Bukaty (PXP) & Tony Meola (Analysis)
Fox Deportes Talent (Spanish): Rodolfo Landeros (PXP), Alvaro Izquierdo (Analysis), and Martín Zuñiga (Analysis)
Radio: Fox Sports 1360
Satellite Radio: SiriusXM FC Channel 157
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst)
New York Red Bulls have become one of the more common opponents in club history for The Orange and Blue. All-time, the Red Bulls own the series with a 5-4-4 record, breaking the deadheat between the clubs in their last matchup on October 4, when RBNY spoiled the party the same night FCC lifted the Supporters’ Shield in front of their own fans for the first time.
FC Cincinnati has never outright beaten the Red Bulls at home, owning a 0-3-1 record since joining MLS. Before the October 4 matchup, FCC had earned winning results or points in five consecutive matches. Earlier this season, FCC knocked Red Bulls out of the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 with a 5:3 PK victory.
FC CINCINNATI NOTES
We Got History – Last season, The Orange and Blue went to Red Bull Arena and earned a 2-1 come from behind victory in the clubs' first ever MLS Cup Playoff game on October 15, 2022. Luciano Acosta converted a PK in the 74th minute and Brandon Vazquez scored the match winner on an assist from Obinna Nwobodo and Sergio Santos.
Home Field Advantage – With the top seed in MLS and the Supporters Shield in hand, the MLS Cup and the MLS Cup Playoffs run through TQL Stadium as The Orange and Blue would host all but one playoff match at home.
Across all competitions, FCC is 17-2-5 at TQL Stadium with a 14-2-5 record against MLS teams this season across all competitions.
FCC have also allowed the third-fewest goals at home this season (13) and own the best home winning percentage among MLS teams across all-competitions (.894).
And the Nominees are… – Four FC Cincinnati members have been named finalists for MLS end-of-year awards. Pat Noonan leads the group as a finalist for the Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year, captain Luciano Acosta is a finalist for Landon Donovan MLS MVP, Matt Miazga a finalist for MLS Defender of the year, and Roman Celentano a finalist for Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
A full list of nominees and voting protocols can be found here.
Do it in the playoffs – 13 FC Cincinnati players have made appearances in the MLS Cup Playoffs for any club, totaling 5499 minutes of game action, three goals and five assists. Nick Hagglund (TOR, 2017) and Brandon Vazquez (CIN, 2022) have earned game winning goals.
Alvas Powell leads all FCC players with 16 career MLS Cup Playoff games dating back to his time with Portland Timbers. With 14 starts Powell has played 1347 minutes across 16 total appearances. In 2015 Powell won MLS Cup with the Timbers, starting and playing a full 90 in a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew.
Second Half Stalwarts – FC Cincinnati finished the regular season, allowing just 10 goals in the second half this season, the second fewest in MLS history, and hold a +27 goal difference in the second half this year, the fourth best all-time.
SCOUTING New York Red Bulls (11-13-10, 43 PTS., No. 8 Seed EASTERN CONFERENCE)
New York Red Bulls needed some Decision Day magic to earn their spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, starting the day on the outside looking into the playoff picture. With a PK in second half stoppage time that John Tolkin converted, the Red Bulls put themselves above the playoff line for the first time all season.
In the Wild Card game, RBNY made little doubt of their result by dominating Charlotte FC from whistle to whistle. With a 3-0 lead heading into halftime, Charlotte never made it back to within one goal and finished their season with a 5-2 finish Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena. Elias Manoel, who scored three times all season, earned the sixth-ever hat trick in the MLS Cup Playoffs with goals in the 10th, 37th and 78th minute. It was the first hat trick since Jordan Morris netted three in 2019 for Seattle Sounders.
Red Bulls enter the playoffs on a significant hot streak, and in the best form they’ve been in all season. Winners of their last four, with points earned in seven of their previous eight, head coach Troy Lesesne’s side has peaked at the right time.
Omir Fernandez, 24, led the club in goal scoring this season with six despite making just 22 starts and 30 appearances total. With 10 total goal contributions, he also tied for the lead with the club with former FCC Superdraft pick Frankie Amaya.
Carlos Coronel has been a stalwart in the net for the Red Bulls, starting all 34 MLS matches this season and earning nine clean sheets. With 59 saves this season, the low figure indicates how RBNY wants to play defense, clogging lanes, slowing play and limiting opportunities on goal to keep the keeper protected. That said, with a 59 percent save rate this season when challenged, the keeper is beatable.