In FC Cincinnati’s MLS home opener, the club delighted and unhinged the reigning Western Conference champions 3-0 on Sunday afternoon at Nippert Stadium. The result was Cincinnati’s first win in MLS, and before a sell-out crowd.
Here are three takeaways from the 3-0 win against the Portland Timbers.
Sunday was the perfect start for MLS at Nippert
From the moment MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced FC Cincinnati as an MLS franchise, anticipation for the home opener at Nippert Stadium began. During three seasons in the USL, Cincinnati routinely set attendance records and produced quality play in the pitch.
That carried into MLS.
In FC Cincinnati’s home opener, the club outplayed the reigning Western Conference champions and delivered a quality performance.
The Orange and Blue took the lead in the 15th minute when a Leo Bertone free kick dropped perfectly into the path of a diving Kendall Waston. The center back headed the ball to the back post to give Cincinnati the lead.
The lead doubled in the 61st minute when Allan Cruz collected Roland Lamah’s deflected shot and coolly backheeled the ball past Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. Two minutes later, Mathieu Deplagne made it 3-0 when he first-timed a Darren Mattocks cross in for the club’s second goal in two minutes.
Against one of the league’s best sides, FCC controlled the play on the field and delighted the sold-out crowd in the stands.
But if there was one worry…
Fanendo Adi getting injured just before halftime is hardly ideal.
Adi was signed last July as the club’s first MLS Designated Player. With FCC still in USL, it was an acquisition for the long-term — and the team’s MLS introduction.
But in what was supposed to be Adi’s big game — a chance to play his former club in his current one’s home opener — Adi went down injured after a Portland defender fell on his leg. The Nigerian forward limped off the field and never returned. He was replaced by Mattocks to start the second half.
There’s no timetable on Adi’s return — or even a full medical assessment — but losing a DP forward could be an issue if the injury proves to be a lengthy one.
What comes next
FC Cincinnati’s next game is Sunday against the New England Revolution.
The Revs are the only team FCC plays in their first 10 matches that didn’t make the MLS Cup playoffs last year. For Cincinnati, it’s a chance to pick up points and build off the four points it’s earned in the last two matches.
But the club won’t be full strength.
Cruz and Waston will be with the Costa Rica National Team, while Mattocks and Powell join the Jamaica National Team. Frankie Amaya will be with the U.S. Under-20 National Team.