2024 Match Reports

FCC moves on to face CF Monterrey with first-round win

PHOTO: John Haggard

At long last, CONCACAF’s largest club competition, the Champions Cup, has arrived in Cincinnati. The Queen City was bitterly cold as FC Cincinnati dispatched Cavalier 4-0 and secured its spot in the second round with a 6-0 aggregate score.

The starting lineup tonight was heavily rotated. A congested schedule and a two-goal advantage allowed the proper condition for the lineup decisions. Aaron Boupendza made his first start of the season and Matt Miazga returned to his central center back position after serving a suspension against Toronto FC in the MLS opening match. Noticeably, some of the younger players got an opportunity to showcase their talents.

The match began with left wingback Bret Halsey creating the early chances for FCC. Similar to his endline run in the first leg match, Halsey found Obinna Nwobodo for a 16th-minute shot that required a block from Cavalier. Halsey again was on the move in the 19th-minute when he decided to forgo his typical move to the end line and drove the ball into the corner of the box. Halsey split the defenders and connected a pass across the face of goal to an unmarked Alvas Powell. Powell made easy work of it, securing his first-ever goal with FCC.

Gerardo “Dado” Valenzuela had been turning heads with his performance this preseason. The 19-year-old midfielder was rewarded with rotational minutes through the first two matches for FCC in 2024. In a rare night with Luciano Acosta on the bench, Valenzuela was FCC’s starting 10. In the 34th-minute, Valenzuela received a ball from Kipp Keller. In a lovely show of skill, Valenzuela backheeled the ball perfectly, setting up a Boupendza shot. Boupendza’s shot was a world-class attempt that bent just into the near post.

With a two-goal advantage and a four-goal advantage on aggregate, Pat Noonan rotated even more young players into the match at halftime. London Aghedo made his debut with the FCC first team at center back. Halsey slid over to right back. Sixteen-year-old midfielder Stiven Jimenez relieved Nwobodo.

Isaiah Foster came into FCC before last season but was unable to see many minutes with the first team due to Álvaro Barreal’s MLS all-star performance. He was loaned out to the Colorado Switchbacks in September that season. He came on the field for FCC at his preferred left back position. In the 71st-minute, a similar play to the first goal by Halsey found Foster on the other end of the pass this time. Foster’s left-footed shot slid between the goalkeeper and the near post. 3-0 FC Cincinnati.

Valenzuela’s first-half goal made him the youngest FCC player to contribute to a goal. In the 78th-minute, Valenzuela became the youngest FCC player to score a goal. Now slotted at the forward position, he collected a ball from midfield and made moves on the talented Cavalier center back Kyle Ming. Ming gave an opening and Valenzuela unleashed a right-footed shot across the face of goal, which nestled inside of the far post.

The 4-0, 6-0 on aggregate, win now has FCC on a collision course with Brandon Vazquez’s C.F. Monterrey in the second round of the Champions Cup. The home match for FCC is on Thursday, March 7th at 7 p.m. EST. The road match is on Thursday, March 14th at 10:15 p.m. EST.

FC Cincinnati: Roman Celentano, Bret Halsey (Luca Orellano 87’), Ian Murphy (Isaiah Foster 46’), Matt Miazga (London Aghedo 46’), Kipp Keller (Luciano Acosta 74’), Alvas Powell, Malik Pinto, Obinna Nwobodo (Stiven Jimenez 46’), Gerardo Valenzuela, Arquimides Ordoñez, Aaron Boupendza (Sergio Santos 62’)

Substitutes not used: Evan Louro, Yuya Kubo, Corey Baird, Miles Robinson, Pavel Bucha

Cavalier FC: Vino Barclett, Gadail Irving (Kwayne Thompson 46’), Richard King, Kyle Ming, Jeovanni Laing, Dwayne Atkinson, Dwayne Allen, Jerome Mcleary (Ronaldo Robinson 63’), Shamar Watson (Makenson Cadet 63’), Jalmaro Calvin (Jaheem Frazer 75’), Shaniel Thomas (Orlando Russell 75’)

Substitutes not used: Jeadine White, Matthew Ellis, Alexavier Gooden

 Scorers (assists):

CIN – Alvas Powell (Halsey) 19’, Aaron Boupendza (Valenzuela) 34’, Isaiah Foster (Halsey) 71’, Gerardo Valenzuela (Acosta) 78’

CAV – None

Next Matches:

 MLS Regular Season: at Chicago Fire; Saturday, March 2nd  at 8:30pm EST – Apple TV+

CONCACAF Champions Cup: vs C.F. Monterrey; Thursday, March 7th at 7:00pm EST – TBD


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