FC Cincinnati became the first team in Major League Soccer this season to clinch a playoff spot in the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with their 2-1 win against Atlanta United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday night. The Orange and Blue (17-3-6, 57 points) continue to pace the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.
Atlanta United (11-8-8, 41 points) opened the match on the front foot as midfielder Thiago Almada hit the post from a long free kick in the 8th minute which was followed by Edwin Mosquera scoring his first MLS goal in the 10th minute. An Atlanta cross deflected to Mosquera open in the middle of the box and Mosquera hit a volley with power into the Cincinnati goal.
FC Cincinnati responded to Atlanta’s opening goal with several dangerous first half chances created by the Orange and Blue. Atlanta were able to hold the Cincinnati attack, which finished the first half with eight shots, scoreless as the hosts took a 1-0 lead into the break.
In search of an equalizer, the Orange and Blue continued to test the Atlanta defense early in the second half. Luciano Acosta played Vazquez in behind of the defense, but Caleb Wiley recovered to interrupt the opportunity. Yuya Kubo tested Atlanta’s goal with his shot in the 60th minute, forcing Brad Guzan into a recovery save to keep the visitors off the scoresheet.
But Cincinnati continued to press and found a breakthrough when Luciano Acosta scored a brilliant goal in the 75th minute. In tight space, Acosta chipped a pass into Junior Moreno who headed a return pass towards Acosta who hit a first-time half-volley into the top corner of the net from just inside the box.
Acosta’s 13th goal of the campaign put him in a tie with Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar for the MLS Golden Boot lead.
Vazquez then finished of one of his four shots on the night to give Cincinnati the lead in the 80th minute. Acosta picked out Álvaro Barreal who tallied up his sixth assist of the season after firing a low pass into the box from a wide position, a perfect ball to the feet of Vazquez who redirected past Guzan. Vazquez’s goal would prove the difference and send the Orange and Blue home with their 17th win of the year.
FC Cincinnati return home to TQL Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2 to take on Orlando City SC at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are still available for the match and can be purchased at fccincinnati.com/tickets. The match will also stream live on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV App and fans can listen in locally on ESPN 1530.
FC CINCINNATI GAME REPORT
FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United FC
Date: August 30, 2023
Competition: MLS Regular Season
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Kickoff: 7:39 p.m. ET
SCORING SUMMARY: 1-2-F
ATL – Edwin Mosquera 10’
CIN – Luciano Acosta (Junior Moreno) 75’, Brandon Vazquez (Álvaro Barreal, Luciano Acosta) 80’
• FC Cincinnati earned a first win in Atlanta in the club’s sixth trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
• Under Pat Noonan, FC Cincinnati are 11-1-6 when playing on a Tuesday or Wednesday, across all competitions … in regular season play, the club is 6-0-4 in the midweek under Noonan.
• Wednesday’s win marked the first time FC Cincinnati won a road game on turf since March 24, 2019 at the New England Revolution.
• Luciano Acosta’s 13th goal tied him with Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar for most in MLS this season … his 24 goal contributions stand alone for most in MLS.
• Acosta put together his eighth multi-goal contribution game this season (1 G, 1 A).
• FC Cincinnati have now won three times this season when their opponent has scored first … entering 2023, that had happened just twice (May 22, 2021 at MTL; Sept. 17, 2022 at RSL).
• FC Cincinnati won when trailing at halftime for the second time in club history (July 12, 2023 at RBNY).
• FC Cincinnati won for the ninth time in club history when tied/trailing at the 75th minute mark.
• FC Cincinnati become the second-fastest MLS side to earn passage to the playoffs in league history, doing so through 26 matches, one behind record setters LAFC in both 2019 and 2022, who earned their spot after 25 matches in both cases.
CIN: Roman Celentano, Álvaro Barreal, Ian Murphy, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund, Bret Halsey (Santiago Arias, 46’), Yuya Kubo (Marco Angulo, 71’), Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (C) (Malik Pinto, 90’), Sergio Santos (Junior Moreno, 46’), Brandon Vazquez
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Alvas Powell, Ray Gaddis, London Aghedo, Gerardo Valenzuela
Head Coach: Pat Noonan
ATL: Brad Guzan (C), Luis Abram, Brooks Lennon, Miles Robinson, Caleb Wiley, Tristan Muyumba Nkita, Thiago Almada, Matheus Rossetto (Tyler Wolff, 86’), Edwin Mosquera (Saba Lobianidze, 58’), Giorgos Giakoumakis, Xande Silva (Amar Sejdic, 76’)
Substitutes not used: Quentin Westberg, Ronald Hernandez, Santiago Sosa, Derrick Etienne Jr., Miguel Berry, Juan Jose Purata
Head Coach: Diego De La Torre
STATS SUMMARY: ATL/CIN
Shots: 9 / 16
Shots on Goal: 1 / 4
Saves: 2 / 0
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 10 / 12
Offside: 3 / 1
Possession: 58.6 / 41.4
CIN – Obinna Nwobodo (Yellow Card) 41'
ATL – Matheus Rossetto (Yellow card) 60’
ATL – Tristan Muyumba (Yellow card) 72’
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Ast. Referees: Diego Blas, Kevin Lock
Fourth Official: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
VAR: Sorin Stoica
AVAR: Fabio Tovar