PREVIEW| FC Cincinnati travel to Monterrey needing a victory in Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16


The mission is clear heading to Mexico. Win and you move on. Anything else, you go home.

FC Cincinnati make their way to the city in the mountains, Monterrey, Mexico, for the return leg of the Round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. After a 1-0 loss to Rayados at TQL Stadium last Thursday, FC Cincinnati enter the match down in the series and down in away goals, meaning they need an outright win to have a chance at advancing.

Confidence is high though. FC Cincinnati performed admirably in the home leg, looking like the better side for the balance of the match and narrowly missing a goal at home multiple times. The FCC defense also held the top club in Concacaf to just the one dangerous moment where former FCC player Brandon Vazquez snuck a shot off the hands of Roman Celentano for the lone goal.

“The score line is the part that hurts after that performance,” FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan shared after the Concacaf Champions Cup loss. “We played a really strong team, and I thought we played really well. The obvious was the play in front of goal. We just missed some really good chances. Credit to their keeper who made some saves, as well. That was the deciding factor in the result. But if we perform like that, I think we'll be okay.”

FC Cincinnati are in the final stretch of a demanding month-long opening with eight matches in the first 24 days of the season. The back-and-forth scheduling of MLS play and Concacaf Champions Cup have left many MLS clubs frustrated in regular season play, but with the chance to advance on the line, FCC players have full faith in their ability to go on the road and get a result.

“This gives us the confidence knowing fully well if we play (like) this game in their home … definitely we're gonna get something,” Obinna Nwobodo said after the result at home. “It’s not going to be easy. … We know what we can do. We know when we are playing at our best we can play against any team and give them a go.”

Should FC Cincinnati earn a 1-0 victory in Monterrey (and only a 1-0 result), the match will go to extra time and penalty kicks. The away goals rule is nullified for extra time goals, meaning whoever leads after extra time is declared the victor. All other results will see a team through to the quarterfinals after full-time.

FC CINCINNATI vs. CF Monterrey (Liga MX) – Thursday, March 14, 2024 – 10:15 p.m. ET – Estadio BBVA

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

International competition

FC Cincinnati began their quest for continental glory with a decisive 6-0 aggregate victory over Cavalier FC of Kingston, Jamaica. FCC was one of three clubs to deal a clean sheet in each leg of the opening round and has scored the second-most goals of the tournament thus far.

The two matches with Cavalier are the club's first in Concacaf international competition, but not their first against international foes. All-time, FCC is undefeated against international clubs outside of MLS, owning a perfect 4-0-0 record. Two of these performances were in Round One of the Champions Cup, and the other two were against Chivas Guadalajara in the Leagues Cup and Leagues Cup Showcase, where FCC earned 2-0 and 3-1 victories.

In a mirrored situation to Thursday's match, when Chivas visited TQL Stadium last July for Leagues Cup they too were top of Liga MX much as CF Monterrey enters as the top club in the league with seven matches to go in their season.

Six different players accounted for all six of FCC’s goals in the Champions Cup opening round, with four registering their first tally with the club. Alvas Powell opened his FCC account against Jamaica for his second career goal in Concacaf Champions Cup/League play (the most by any club member) after scoring his first in 2014 as a member of the Portland Timbers.

Prior to this season, eight members of FC Cincinnati had competed in Concacaf Champions League, with three having played in club continental competition outside of Concacaf, including Luciano Acosta, 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 and Obinna Nwobodo’s (Enugu Rangers IFC) minutes logged in the 2016/17 CAF Champions League.

Newly acquired Cincinnati wingback DeAndre Yedlin has made four appearances in Concacaf Champions League in 2013 as a member of the Seattle Sounders. He also appeared in eight continental competitions as a member of Galatasaray of the Turkish Super Lig, playing in six UEFA Europa League matches, one Europa League qualifying match and one UEFA Champions League match.


Need a win – Since joining MLS, FC Cincinnati is 8-4-4 in deciding games across the U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup, MLS is Back, MLS Cup Playoff and now Concacaf Champions Cup matches. FCC earned a 4-0 victory in Round One of the Champions Cup over Cavalier FC to earn the clubs first ever aggregate victory.

Experience in Mexico – 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acosta spent a brief time playing in Liga MX after a move from D.C. United sent him to Atlas FC in Guadalajara. In his two seasons in Mexico, Lucho made 33 appearances and scored three goals before departing for FC Cincinnati.

Assistant coach Dominic Kinnear also appeared in Liga MX as a player, appearing in five matches for Necaxa. Assistant coach Ricky Paez also featured for San Luis. Miles Robinson visited Monterrey as a member of Atlanta United in a previous edition of the Concacaf Champions League.

Debut in a big way – DeAndre Yedlin made his FC Cincinnati debut in the first leg of the series with CF Monterrey, starting in his debut and playing 88 minutes. In the match he made 24 of 27 passes including a successful cross and earned high praise for his manager who highlighted his skill and intelligence in adapting to a new environment so quickly.

SCOUTING CF Monterrey (1st Liga MX Clausura, 7-0-4 25 pts, D-W-D-W-W)

CF Monterrey – or as they are sometimes more commonly called “Rayados” – were recently named the top club in Concacaf by the confederations club index. The ranking, which considered performances in domestic and international club competition, had Liga MX side Club America as its top team for three months. However, thanks to a fast start in the Mexican top flights Clausura season, Rayados took the crown in the most recent rankings. FC Cincinnati currently sits as the 12th best club in the rankings, good for fifth best in MLS, ahead of Mexican side Deportivo Toluca FC and behind Club Universidad Nacional, aka Pumas.

Historically Rayados has been dominant in not only Liga MX but also International Competitions, winning five Concacaf Champions League titles including three consecutively in the early 2010’s.

After Rayados' win at TQL Stadium a week ago, Monterrey has continued their hot streak by dominating Mazatlan in Liga MX play Sunday evening. By scoring twice in the first half CF Monterrey was able to sub out most of it’s starting forwards at the half and reserve their strength, seeing out the game 2-1 and securing the result.

One of those who was subbed out was form FCC man Brandon Vazquez, who scored the long goal in the opening leg of the round. Since joining, Vazquez has been dominant, scoring seven goals in 10 appearances across all competitions—including a goal in the opening round of the Concacaf Champions Cup against Comunicaciones F.C. of Guatemala in addition to his Round of 16 finish.

Fellow newcomer Sergio Canales (who also game off at half) came to Rayados from Real Betis of La Liga at the beginning of the 2023/2024 season and has been the top scorer for the club since arriving. In 17 appearances with the club, the Spaniard has netted eight goals and an assist with over 1,000 minutes played.

The duo have combined to score twice as many goals as the rest of the club.

In net for The Striped Ones is Esteban Andrada, who stymied The Orange and Blue in the first leg with miraculous staves to thwart clear goal scoring opportunities. The keeper joined the club in 2021 after a lengthy career at Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires. He has started all 10 league matches and Round One matches of the Champions Cup.

After a 16-year playing career, Fernando Ortiz has taken to the coaching box for Rayados. The Argentine took over the club at the beginning of 2023 after managerial stints with Club America and multiple clubs in Paraguay. In 28 games at the helm, Ortiz has led the club to a 23-8-7 record.