PREVIEW| FC Cincinnati visits Orlando City SC looking to continue winning streak


FC Cincinnati is heading to central Florida to begin another two-game road span, but this time, start the trip on a winning high after last week's 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

What awaits The Orange and Blue in The Sunshine State is an Orlando City SC squad that has, per Head Coach Pat Noonan, given FC Cincinnati trouble and made for a worthy adversary. But FCC is meeting OCSC at perhaps their lowest point, as the Florida club who finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race last season, enters the match in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.

However, poor results aside, Noonan has made clear to his club that—in his opinion—Orlando is a club far better than its record suggests, and anything less than a quality performance will leave FCC disappointed.

“It's a very good team, one that you look past the record. If you just watch the games and how they play… I'd like to think our guys know that this is a good Orlando team,” Noonan said Thursday at his pre-match press conference. “Certainly, it's my job – and our job as a staff – to let them know that the record is not a good indication of the quality of the opponent.

“We're going to go into this game very mindful of how difficult it will be to go on the road…so by no means will they step on the field thinking this is a comfortable game against a team that's at the bottom of the table for a reason. Because they're much better than their record.”

The Orange and Blue will also be expecting some key returners to the squad after last week's match, with Noonan noting that Roman Celentano, DeAndre Yedlin and Nick Hagglund will be available for selection. Newcomer Kevin Kelsy, a 19-year-old Venezuelan forward, will also be available for selection on Saturday and could make his debut. Kelsy joined the club officially before the close of the primary transfer window from Ukrainian club FC Shakhtar Donetsk. 

FC Cincinnati enters Matchday 12 in second place in the Eastern Conference, and the Supporters’ Shield table with 18 points and a 5-2-3 record. With a win, FCC could move into a tie for first place in both tables with Inter Miami CF but would have a game in hand.

FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC – Saturday, May 04, 2024 – 7:30 p.m. ET – INTER&Co


Stream: Free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Talent (English): Mark Rogondino (PxP), Heath Pearce (Analyst)
TV Talent (Spanish): Diego Pessolano (PXP), Daniel Chapela (Analysis)

Radio: ESPN 1530

Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (PXP), Kevin McCloskey (Analyst)

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

All-time versus Orlando City SC

Saturday’s matchup will be the 10th between the two clubs and the fifth at the newly renamed INTER&Co Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

In their last meetup, Orlando spoiled the fun at TQL Stadium last season, grinding out a 1-0 result to hand FCC their first home loss of the season. Facundo Torres scored right before halftime to secure the result as The Orange and Blue could not find an equalizer in the final 45 minutes of the match.

Prior to that match, FCC had earned points in each of the three previous meetings with Orlando, a span coinciding with Pat Noonan taking over as Head Coach of the club. FCC and Orlando also drew 0-0 on their last visit to central Florida last May. 


On the road again – The match Saturday with Orlando City SC marks the start of the second multi-week road series The Orange and Blue have played this season. In all, FCC will play back-to-back games on the road this season four times, with a fifth series being dissected by the 2024 Leagues Cup. In the first two-game split, FC Cincinnati split the series 1-1-0 with CF Montréal and Atlanta United FC.

There ain’t no stopping me – On the road this season, though, FC Cincinnati have been as dominant as any team in MLS. With a 3-1-1 record in road matches, FCC are tied for the most road points in the league with 10. 

Record Setter – With his first-half goal last week, FCC captain and 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acosta set the club record with 44 career goals across all competitions, breaking a tie he held with former FCC player Brandon Vazquez. Acosta had already owned the club's MLS goal-scoring record, but now, with five goals this season, including one in the Concacaf Champions Cup, the record belongs exclusively to Acosta.

First-time scorers – Corey Baird scored his first goal of the season Saturday against Colorado Rapids, a game-winning chip over the keeper to (at the time) double the FC Cincinnati lead. With the goal, Baird became the seventh player to score their first goal with the club this season. This is the third season seven players have scored debut goals, the third most since the club joined MLS in 2019 (13 in 2019, 9 in 2021).

Welcome, Mr. Kelsy – On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati officially acquired 19-year-old Venezuelan forward Kevin Kelsy [KELL-see] on loan from Ukrainian Premier League power Shakhtar Donetsk. He will join FC Cincinnati for the duration of the 2024 Major League Soccer season, with an option to buy. Kelsy was added as a U22 initiative player to the club’s 2024 roster prior to the close of the MLS Primary Transfer Window and is now fully eligible to join the squad. The 6-foot-3 striker brings 68 professional appearances to Cincinnati across Europe and South America, including five in UEFA Champions League competition.

SCOUTING Orlando City SC (2-4-3, 9 points, 13th in Eastern Conference, L-D-W-D-W)

After a successful 2023, where Orlando finished second in the east behind FC Cincinnati and qualified for the 2023 Concacaf Champions Cup, the Lions of Central Florida have gotten off to a flat start to the 2024 campaign.

Orlando conceded twice in the final three minutes of last week's 2-1 loss to Toronto FC at INTER&Co Stadium, and OCSC may be at its lowest point. The loss, which dropped Orlando to 13th in the east, was also emblematic of their year as a whole. They were quality for large swaths but unable to finish out results.

Much of Orlando’s issues to this point of the season have come from roster fluctuation and trouble integrating new pieces to the group after a turbulent Primary Transfer Window to open the 2024 year.

After an outgoing transfer to England for young American striker Duncan McGuire fell through, Orlando has struggled to combine the SuperDraft pick and newly signed DP number 9 Luis Muriel in their one-forward formation. The struggles have been to the tune of Muriel, who has started just five games, has yet to score a goal or tally an assist thus far. McGuire, meanwhile, who scored 13 goals last season for Orlando, leads the club with four this season.

A newcomer to Orlando but not MLS, Nicolás Lodeiro was also brought in this offseason to play the number 10 role as an attacking midfielder after seven seasons with the Seattle Sounders. The South American star, who once featured for Ajax in the Netherlands and Boca Juniors in Argentina, has scored a goal and registered two assists but started their last match on the bench to make way for longtime Orlando man and 2023 leading scorer Facundo Torres.

In that last match, Head Coach Oscar Pareja, who is now in his fifth season managing the club, deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation, anchoring the defense with center-back and captain Robin Jansson. Of note, it will also be Jansson bobblehead night on Saturday, where the Swedish defender will be designed to wear Mandalorian-inspired armor in celebration of Star Wars night (May the Fourth Be With You). Jansson is also the most-capped player in club history, appearing in 172 matches across all competitions.

Between the pipes for Orlando is Pedro Gallese, the club's all-time leader in starts by a keeper with 132. The 34-year-old Peruvian goalkeeper, who has also made over 100 appearances for his senior national team, has struggled to start the year. In  eight starts, Gallese has allowed 17 goals on a 57.9 save percentage, which ranks 31 among qualified keepers this season. Gallese also ranks second worst in MLS with a -2.7 “Post Shot Expected Goals Ratio,” per Opta. This means that, per the statistic, Gallese conceded more than two goals than expected based on the shots he had taken against him. FCC goalkeeper Roman Celentano, for example, owns a +2.8 PSxG+/- (the technical signal for the stat), indicating he has saved nearly three more goals than expected compared to the challenge of the shots being taken on him.