PREVIEW| FC Cincinnati take 2-0 lead into return leg against Cavalier FC in Concacaf Champions Cup


After drawing to open the MLS regular season Sunday, FC Cincinnati have a chance to rebound quickly from the result with a midweek Concacaf matchup against Cavalier FC.

FCC opened international play in the Concacaf Champions Cup with a 2-0 victory last Thursday against the Jamaican Premier League side. Now Cavalier FC have traveled north to Cincinnati for the return leg of the matchup on Wednesday night at TQL Stadium.

With a two-goal lead in the aggregate, FCC hold the clear advantage in the deciding matchup, needing to just win, draw, or even lose by one or less to secure advancing to the next round of the tournament. If Cavalier FC manage to mirror the score line from a week ago, the match would go to extra time then penalty kicks to decide a winner.

The midweek match will be the third game in seven days for The Orange and Blue, part of a potential stretch of games that would see FCC playing twice a week for over a month.

“Guys need to be ready,” head coach Pat Noonan said entering a week's worth of matches. “We educate the players on the schedule. This is what the game schedule looks like, this is what the recovery days look like, these are potentially off days, but be ready. … Guys were ready last year and that's what helped us win games and be consistent. So we're expecting the same, but with an understanding that it's come at a different time of the year with less fitness.”

FC CINCINNATI vs. Cavalier FC (Jamaica Premier League) – Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 7 p.m. ET – TQL Stadium

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

International competition

FCC opened their account in international competition last Thursday when they traveled to Kingston, Jamaica to play the first leg of Round One. Sergio Santos became the first member of The Orange and Blue to score a goal in Concacaf play with his 45+5 minute chip assisted by Bret Halsey. Malik Pinto added the second goal of the evening when he put a strike on target in the 87 minute on an assist from Arquimides Ordoñez.

Prior to Thursday, eight members of FC Cincinnati had competed in Concacaf Champions League in the past, and three have played in club continental competition outside of Concacaf, including Luciano Acosta, Alvas Powell, Nick Hagglund, Miles Robinson, Alec Kann and Kipp Keller.

Pavel Bucha appeared in the UEFA Champions League with his Czech side FC Viktoria Plzen, facing Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in the 2022/23 Group Stage. That is in addition to Yuya Kubo’s (BSC Young Boys) Champions League qualifying experience. Obinna Nwobodo (Enugu Rangers IFC) has experience in the 2016/17 CAF Champions League.

With a result, FCC would advance to the Round of 16 in Concacaf Champions Cup where CF Monterrey of Liga MX await after their 7-1 opening round aggregate victory over Comunicaciones. Former Cincinnati man Brandon Vazquez has been dominant for Rayados, scoring four goals in six appearances since his transfer.


In deciding games – Since joining MLS, FC Cincinnati is 7-4-4 in deciding games across the U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup, MLS is Back and MLS Cup Playoff matches. FC Cincinnati has never before played in an aggregate scoring matchup prior to this series.

Against international competition – FC Cincinnati is undefeated when playing top flight competition outside of MLS. FCC earned their third win Thursday, adding to their two wins over Liga MX sides from Leagues Cup and Leagues Cup Showcase play. When playing teams based outside of the United States, FCC owns a 13-8-3 record.

On short rest – FCC have been successful under Noonan on short rest, owning a 11-2-4 record when playing on just two days rest. FCC will compete regularly on short rest for the next month as competitions stack up, playing as many as eight matches in the first 25 days of the season.

Early season ironmen – Five members of FC Cincinnati have played all 180 minutes of competitive play this season. Outfielders Miles Robinson, Obinna Nwobodo, Ian Murphy and Luciano Acosta have all started and finished both games of the season, and goalkeeper Roman Celentano has stood between the pipes for both matches keeping a clean sheet each time.

SCOUTING Cavalier FC (1st place in Jamaica Premier League, 13-2-4, 43pts, 2023 Caribbean Cup Runners-up)

Cavalier FC enter the second leg of the matchup needing to overcome a two-goal deficit on the road, but have not played since hosting The Orange and Blue last Thursday evening.

The Destroyers looked dangerous at times in their home leg against FCC, deploying a very specific tactic to throw off the visitors. Cavalier looked to use their speed and direct passing to try and catch defenders off guard in transition moments, and while they couldn’t find a finish, the Jamaica Premier League leaders created multiple dangerous moments that Roman Celentano had to save to keep the clean sheet.

FC Cincinnati dominated possession, controlling the ball 75 percent of the time and having essentially unlimited time to make decisions with Cavalier sitting all 11 men behind the ball and waiting for FCC to make a mistake.

“These games are difficult, and it's an unfamiliar opponent who's doing really well and at the top of their league,” Noonan said of his opponent. “We should be confident. We're with a two-goal lead, and we didn't concede and we scored two away goals. So just in terms of how this competition is structured, it's favorable. But by no means is it done. … The guys will understand that we need to start the game strong and not think that we're comfortable, because it changes quickly. But we need to have a strong start in the second leg.”

Cavalier is managed by Rudolph Speid. Cavalier was founded in 1962 as the Duncan Destroyers and have twice won the Jamaica Premier League. Well known for the youth academies on the island, the club have seen several star players join the national team as well as leave the country to play in larger leagues around the world. Seven members of the club have appeared with the senior national team, including, most recently, Shaniel Thomas who started for Cavalier in the first leg of the Matchup with FCC.