FC Cincinnati host Nashville SC in their first round of the Leagues Cup knockout stage, a rematch of the final MLS league match before breaking for the tournament.
The Orange and Blue earned the right to host the match by winning its group (Central 3) with a penalty kicks win over Sporting Kansas City and a win over Chivas Guadalajara. Nashville SC finished second in its group (Central 4) and defeated the Colorado Rapids before losing to group winner Toluca.
The knockout round will be played in the same fashion as the group stage, but the point system becomes irrelevant. Should the match be tied at the end of 90 minutes, the match will progress directly to penalty kicks to decide a winner.
In knockout play this season, FCC is undefeated, winning all their matches in the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. With a win, FC Cincinnati will advance to the round of 16, where they will host the winner of Liga MX side Club America and Chicago Fire FC.
FC Cincinnati is 6-3-2 all-time in win-or-go home matches.
FC CINCINNATI v.s. Nashville SC – Friday, August, 4, 2023 – 8:00 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium
Stream: Free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Talent (English): Jake Zivim (PxP), Taylor Twellman (Analyst)
TV Talent (Spanish): Jorge Perez-Navarro (PxP), Marcelo Balboa (Analyst)
Radio: ESPN 1530
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Omar Cummings (Analyst)
FC Cincinnati earned their fourth season sweep in club history less than a month ago when The Orange and Blue defeated Nashville SC 3-1 at TQL Stadium. FC Cincinnati won the away match at Nashville’s GEODIS Park on Matchday 5 1-0 to secure the season sweep.
This matchup will be the seventh game between Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati, the first outside MLS league play. After the victory on July 15, the all-time record sits at a perfectly even 2-2-2 between the squads.
FC CINCINNATI NOTES
Finishing Power – Brandon Vazquez is tied for second in scoring in Leagues Cup, earning four goals in two matches, including a hat trick against Chivas. With the hat trick, Vazquez became the second FCC player to score three goals in a game.
Vazquez’s four goals are tied for most among MLS players in the tournament.
Key Creator – With eight key passes in Leagues Cup play, Luciano Acosta is third in the tournament with passes that resulted in an attempt on net. In addition to his goal, assist, and creation of a second goal deemed an own-goal, Acosta has been one of the most dynamic attacking players in the tournament.
Mr. Undefeated – In six starts across all competitions, FCC is undefeated when Alec Kann serves as goalkeeper. Kann has started in all of FC Cincinnati’s cup competition games this season, helping The Orange and Blue earn passage into the semi-finals of the US Open Cup and the knockout round of the Leagues Cup. In those six starts, he has made 15 saves.
Mr. Hyaku – Yuya Kubo is set to make his 100th appearance for The Orange and Blue, becoming the fourth FC Cincinnati player to reach the century mark. In his 100 appearances, he has played in 89 MLS games, one MLS Cup playoff game, five US Open Cup matches, two Leagues Cup matches, one Leagues Cup showcase game, and one MLS Is Back Tournament game.
Home again – After winning their group FC Cincinnati will host knockout stage matches at TQL Stadium and could host all games until the semi-finals if they advance.
FCC has dominated its home grass, owning an MLS-best 15-0-2 record across all competitions.
SCOUTING NASHVILLE (11-8-5, 38 PTS., 4th MLS EASTERN CONFERENCE. 1-1-0, 2nd in Leagues Cup group Central 4)
Nashville SC is anchored by its prolific offensive star, 2022 MLS MVP attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar. All things run through the German attacker, and he leads MLS in goals and goals+assists with 21 this season.
The visiting side could have reinforcements to augment Nashville SC’s offense, though, as the club waits for newly signed forward Sam Surridge to debut after a transfer from Premier League side Nottingham Forest.
Surridge, a striker, scored once in 20 appearances in the Premier League last season and twice in the EFL Cup for the Tricky Trees.
NSC will again be shorthanded for their match with FCC. Aníbal Godoy, Shaquell Moore, and Daniel Lovitz will be available for Nashville SC after missing the July 15 match due to international duty (Godoy) and suspension (Moore, Lovit). However, they will be without striker Teal Bunbury after he received a red card in NSC’s match with Toluca.
English football star Gary Smith leads Nashville SC, the first and only manager in the club’s history dating back to the two seasons Nashville SC played in USL. In three MLS seasons, Smith has led The Boys in Gold to a 44-38-28 record and appearances in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in each season.