PREVIEW| FC Cincinnati host New York City FC after full week of training


After a month of nonstop gameplay resulting in eight matches in 25 days to start the 2024 season, FC Cincinnati are relishing in the full week of training to prepare for their weekend home fixture with New York City FC on Saturday night.

The Orange and Blue enter their fifth MLS matchweek with a renewed focus on the season now that they no longer have other competitions to draw their attention. Despite the challenging slate, FCC earned their way toward the top of the Eastern Conference table with eight points, enough for third behind Columbus Crew and Inter Miami CF.

“Yesterday we probably had our most intense training session of the month, so it was refreshing,” head coach Pat Noonan said Thursday. “We got to work on some things in 11s with more intensity than we've been able to. That part, I think, for the entire group was something they were looking forward to.”

After the 2-1 road win over New England on Sunday, Noonan felt the club hadn’t been able to make adjustments, or work on themselves, in effective ways due to the heavy workload from matches and lack of training sessions. 

“It allowed us to work on some transition stuff that, based on the schedule, wasn't the case,” Noonan elaborated. “The training week has been good in our usual four-day build after the day off, so it's been nice to get to a normal flow of the week.”

With back to back nil-nil results to open the MLS season at home, getting back to their winning ways at home and giving the supporters something to celebrate are both top of mind for players and coaches alike.

“In the league play, I feel like we've been doing well defensively, keeping our shape and limiting chances,” goalkeeper Roman Celentano said. “The goals will start to come. In New England, we got two and it was nice to get the win, but we want to do a lot more.”

“We would like to win in front of our home fans,” Noonan added. “We made up for it on the road in our first two games, but that doesn't justify not getting results at home.

“It helps us with where we're at in the table and not dropping too many points. But we've played two scoreless draws in front of our home fans. It would be nice to reward them with a good performance and something that is more exciting than the first two games that sees us scoring some goals and winning the game.”

With a win, it would be the second time in as many seasons that FC Cincinnati opened with points in their first five matches after never making it more than two matches without a loss. Reigning MLS MVP Luciano Acosta could also join revered company with a goal, becoming the seventh player in league history to tally 60-plus goals and 80-plus assists.

FC CINCINNATI vs New York City FC – Saturday, March 23, 2024 – 7:30 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium

Stream:MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Talent (English): Max Bretos (PXP) & Devon Kerr (Analysis)
TV Talent (Spanish): Diego Pessolano (PXP) & Daniel Chapela (Analysis), 

Radio: ESPN 1530

Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst)

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

All-time versus New York City FC

NYCFC have historically dominated the series between The Orange and Blue and The Pigeons, but of late those fortunes have shifted. After losing the first six meetings with New York City, FCC are undefeated in their last five and on a three-game winning streak across all competitions.

In 2023, FCC outscored NYCFC to the tune of seven goals to one, including two clean sheets, and eliminated The Pigeons in the Round of 32 of the U.S. Open Cup. In the final meeting of the season, Aaron Boupendza, Junior Moreno and Nick Hagglund scored to give FCC the victory. Acosta added two assists to give him the most in club history with four assists and four goals against NYCFC. Roman Celentano’s 18 saves are the most ever by a member of The Orange and Blue.


Ahead by a century – Saturday's match has the potential to meet two milestones for FC Cincinnati players. With a start, Luciano Acosta would register his 200th in MLS, and with an appearance, Alvas Powell would make his 200th MLS appearance.

With the start, Acosta would become the 162 player in MLS history to make 200 career starts. 

250 incoming – FC Cincinnati enter Saturday’s matchup with 246 all-time goals since joining MLS in 2019. Aaron Boupendza scored the 200th in club history with his late closer against Nashville on July 15, 2023.

FCC have scored four goals or more five times, most recently on July 30, 2022 against Inter Miami CF. On June 29, 2022, FCC earned a 4-4 draw with NYCFC at TQL Stadium. 

Home cooking – FCC have struggled to score at home this season, going nil-nil in both MLS matches at TQL Stadium. The Orange and Blue only once went scoreless at home in 2023, the first time under Pat Noonan the club has failed to score at home. FCC have not gone three consecutive home matches without a goal since September 2020. 

Miles on the road – FC Cincinnati defender Miles Robinson has been selected for the U.S. Men's National Team ahead of the Concacaf Nations League Final in Arlington, Texas later this month. The only MLS outfielder to be selected for the roster, The Stars and Stripes will take on Jamaica on March 21 and either Panama or Mexico in the finals or third-place game, depending on the result. 

SCOUTING New York City FC (1-3-0, 3 points, 12th in Eastern Conference, L-L-L-W)

The Pigeons come to TQL Stadium riding the high of their first win of 2024, a 2-1 result at Yankee Stadium over Toronto FC. New York City snapped a three game losing streak with goals from Santiago Rodríguez and Kevin O’Toole to overcome an early deficit and snag a win. Unfortunately, as part of that effort, starting midfielder Keaton Parks was handed a red card in the 68th minute and will be unavailable for the match. 

Nick Cushing, now in his third season as NYCFC head coach, is looking to turn the club around after a disappointing 2023 which saw them not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Cushing, the former long time manager of Manchester City Women and assistant coach of NYCFC, is 21-26-19 all-time in the Big Apple.

Optimism has surrounded New York entering the season as key additions have been brought in to solidify the roster, unlike last year which was dubbed more of a “working project” or “rebuild” by some. But youth and stars alike have been added to make up for the departures.

U.S. international James Sands holds down the midfield after a successful loan stint with Rangers in the Scottish Premiership in 2022, and designated player Rodriíguez of Uruguay has scored twice for NYCFC to open the year.

Newcomer Jovan Mijatovic has come in as the next young star for The Pigeons. Brought in on a reported significant fee, the 18-year-old is often referred to as “Beckham” in his native Serbia after a breakout 19 goal season with Red Star Belgrade in the Serbian SuperLiga. He has featured in three matches for NYCFC as a sub, but with three Pigeons out on international duty and Parks on suspension, this could be his first starting call.

“There's a couple key pieces out for them in terms of international call ups,” Noonan said of his weekend opponent. “I know the start in terms of results wasn't good, but when you watch the games you know that could have played out differently.

“We expect a team that's coming off of a win and has no reason not to be confident based on how they've been playing.”

“We know Cincinnati is a difficult place [to play], their season last year shows that,” Cushing said to “We’ve been disappointed with our results going there. I think at first we had positive results, but maybe of late not so positive.

“We're going to have to be prepared and make sure that we go there with the mentality to make sure we get a result."

In net for The Pigeons, Matt Freese has stood in as the starter for the first four. Freese joined New York City in 2023, leaving his boyhood club Philadelphia Union after nearly six seasons as a homegrown. After starting 10 matches in 2023, Freese is now the de facto starter. In four starts this season, he has made nine saves and conceded six goals.