2023 Match Reports

FCC answers the same question in 3-1 comeback win over Nashville

FC Cincinnati pick up another TQL Stadium home win vs Nashville SC

Photo Credit: Scott Huck

CINCINNATI – Each match the question seems to be asked: ‘Is this the game when FCC’s march to greatness will be derailed?’

And in virtually every game so far this season, the answer from the Orange & Blue has come back with clarity: “You’re not stopping us.”

Saturday night it was Nashville asking the questions, and Gary Smith’s team seemed for a while to have a pretty good formula for stifling the FCC attack. Nashville then managed to score a goal and the question resounded with a louder voice.

But the Orange & Blue answered authoritatively, leveling the score before halftime, and then pulling out to a 3-1 comeback win with the help of two red cards issued to the visitors. Luciano Acosta had a goal and an assist, Santiago Arias scored the winning goal and debutant DP Aaron Boupendza scored in the closing seconds to complete the night and send the home crowd (another sellout of 25,000 +) into the Cincinnati night with a happy countenance.

Still, Noonan plans to address at Monday’s training session a few issues that he wasn’t as pleased with on the night, revolving around decision-making, positioning and game management, particularly after the team was up 2-1 with Nashville down to 9 players

“It’s always a better feeling to win of course, but if you step back and look at a performance, of an individual, of your team, how did you manage your game, how did you perform, what did you do well, what did you struggle with,  there are definitely some things we can be better at and learn from,” he said. “There are certainly a lot of things we did well to position ourselves to win a game 3-1, but if we want to be a championship team, things will have to improve because games will not always look like this. You’re not always going to be able to play with a numbers advantage. That’ll be a good talk for us.”

He described the game as having had too many chaotic moments. Fresh on the coach’s mind had to be the closing minutes of the game when Nashville created three decent chances in front of the FCC goal despite being down two men. One was thwarted by a timely header from center back Matt Miazga. The second initially resulted in the awarding of a penalty kick for a foul on Walker Zimmerman, but a video review led to the decision being overturned. Finally, another long ball from the visitors came to nothing when two Nashville players seemed to get in one another’s way when a close-range shot seemed to be coming.

Then the hosts put the game beyond all doubt when, as Nashville had thrown players forward, new player Boupendza took a pass from Brandon Vazquez and finished with aplomb to make it 3-1.

The game was delayed for nearly an hour by lightning strikes a few miles from the stadium during warmups.

Noonan went strong with his starting lineup, as both returnees from U.S. Men’s National Team duty, Matt Miazga and Brandon Vazquez, went straight into the starting lineup despite having played in the Gold Cup three days before. New DP striker Aaron Boupendza also was included for the first time, albeit beginning the game on the substitutes bench.

FCC had the ball in the back of the Nashville net in the opening minutes but Luciano Acosta’s steal, run to goal and finish was negated by VAR, which ruled that the Argentine fouled Nashville defender Walker Zimmerman.

Nashville scored the opening goal due to a goalkeeping error from Roman Celentano. Randall Leal sent a cross in from the left, and the FCC goalkeeper failed to catch it cleanly, allowing Zimmerman a close-range finish and a 1-0 Nashville lead.

The equalizing goal for FCC kind of came out of nothing. Barreal hit a cross from the left and Alex Muyl blocked it with an outstretched arm in the area. Acosta stepped up and slammed home a penalty kick for his 12th goal of the season and a 1-1 score, which the teams took to the break.

The hosts were beginning to feel it in terms of creating chances, but weren’t breaking through. Then the game changed dramatically over a six-minute stretch. Taylor Washington was sent off for a second yellow card offense in the 68th minute. Fafa Picault followed suit in the 70th minute to make it 11 vs. 9, his foul on Santiago Arias being drawn with skill.

Then the winning goal came. Acosta was again the instigator, taking a pass from Santiago Arias and then threading a return ball to put his teammate in on goal. Arias converted the finish and FCC were up 2-1 in the 74th minute.  There were still plenty of talking points in the remainder of the game.

The team tied an MLS record for fewest games required to reach 50 points in the standings (23), and Noonan did not want to minimize that, even as he continues to stress areas of play that can improve.

“These guys should be really proud of what they’ve done for 23 games. It’s a credit to the group that the team is hungry to achieve,” Noonan said.

In all the match referee, who seemed to be dealing with a lower body injury for much of the match, issued 10 yellow cards on the night and whistled 32 fouls, with more than a few testy, off-the-ball incidents also taking place. Noonan said a halftime emphasis was to avoid getting drawn into these.

The match was FCC’s final league contest for more than a month, with the team’s focus shifting to the new Leagues Cup competition featuring first division clubs from MLS and Liga MX competing with one another. FCC hosts both of its group stage games, July 23 vs. Sporting Kansas City and July 27 vs. Chivas Guadalajara.

The next MLS game for the team is Aug. 20 at Columbus.

Match Summary (courtesy FC Cincinnati)

CIN:  Roman Celentano, Alvaro Barreal, Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund (Ian Murphy 90+1), Santiago Arias (Alvas Powell 82), Obinna Nwobodo, Junior Moreno (Marco Angle 90+1), Luciano Acosta (C), Sergio Santos (Aaron Boupenza 75′), Brandon Vazquez 

Substitutes not used:  Alec Kann, Malik Pinto, Ray Gaddis, Archimides Ordonez, Bret Halsey 

Head Coach: Pat Noonan

NSH: Joe Willis, Lukas MacNaughton, Josh Bauer (Jacob Shaffelburg 90+2’), Taylor Washington, Walker Zimmerman (C), Dax McCarty (Sean Davis 57’), Randall Leal (Luke Haakenson 81’), Alex Muyl, Brian Anunga (Jan Gregus 81’), Hany Mukhtar (Teal Bunbury 81’), Fafa Picault

Substitutes not used: Elliot Panicco, Ethan Zubak, Laurence Wyke

 Head Coach: Gary Smith


Shots: 16 / 6 

Shots on Goal: 7 / 1 

Saves: 0 / 3 

Corner Kicks: 7 / 0 

Fouls: 16 / 16 

Offside: 1 / 0 

Possession: 56.1 / 43.9 


CIN – Santiago Arias (Yellow Card) 26’
NSH – Taylor Washington (Yellow Card) 37’
CIN – Luciano Acosta (Yellow Card) 45+7’
CIN – Matt Miazga (Yellow Card) 62’
NSH – Fafa Picault (Yellow Card) 62’
NSH – Taylor Washington (Second Yellow, Red Card) 68’
NSH – Fafa Picault (Second Yellow, Red Card) 70’
NSH – Luke Haakenson (Yellow Card) 86’
CIN – Brandon Vazquez (Yellow Card) 87’

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