FC Cincinnati looks for series sweep against Atlanta United

Luca Orellano serving up a Cross against Toronto. Feb 25, 2024 - Photo Courtesy of Brian Mack
Luca Orellano serving up a Cross against Toronto. Feb 25, 2024 - Photo Courtesy of Brian Mack

The Orange and Blue hope to extend their winning streak to five games against the Five Stripes on Wednesday, as FC Cincinnati returns to TQL Stadium after a 2-1 win over rival Columbus in the “Hell is Real” derby.

FCC (7-2-3) comes into the match sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference at 24 points, just three points behind Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami, who currently sit in first with 27.

Meanwhile, Atlanta United (3-3-5) has been in a big slump. The team is on a six-game winless streak, coming into Wednesday off a loss at home against D.C. United, third straight loss at home and the first time ever in club history, and only have 12 points in 11 games. Atlanta currently sits below the playoff line in 10th place.

So yeah, it’s not exactly been good in the Peach State.


Atlanta United leads the all-time series between these two clubs with a 5-3-3 record. But, the Orange and Blue are unbeaten in the last three meetings against the Five Stripes, including their 2-1 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on April 20th earlier this season.

The last time these two sides met, Atlanta’s Thiago Almada opened up the scoring in the second half, just before a pair of goals from Luca Orellano and Lucho Acosta just two minutes apart gave Cincinnati the victory on the road.


A win in Cincinnati on Wednesday could be the start of a turnaround. Still, head coach Gonzalo Pineda has only managed to win eight games on the road since taking over Atlanta United in August of the 2021 season. On a positive note for ATL, one of those wins did occur at TQL stadium.

The Five Stripes are usually known for their counter-attacking style of soccer, which has led them to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch from an offensive standpoint since their entry into the league in 2017. However, this season they have only scored 16 goals.

The reason? Designated Player striker Giorgos Giakoumakis missed three games this season due to injury and still leads the team with five goals. The 2023 MLS Newcomer of the Year spearheads the Atlanta attack, and when he’s not scoring, no one else has picked up the slack this season.

Fellow DP Thiago Almada hasn’t been the same Almada we are used to seeing this year. The World Cup winner has just three goals this season and hasn’t been nearly as sharp as he was in 2o23. After all, he had 28 goal contributions for this team last year, with 12 goals and 16 assists.

Atlanta will look to get their first road win of the season in a place that has become a fortress for FCC. If the away side wants to get a result, Giakoumakis and Almada need to each have big games.


Riding off the highs from Saturday, FCC has now won four matches in a row and has outscored opponents 7-3, but more impressibly, the team has only conceded three goals in this stretch.

Defensively, FCC has conceded the least amount of goals in the MLS so far, only giving up 10 goals in 12 games. The reigning MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga has been huge all season, and new partner Miles Robinson has been elite as well, the latter of which I’m sure wouldn’t mind getting on the scoresheet against his former team.

Acosta has also scored in four straight matches, has six goals and six assists so far this season, and leads the league in key passes. Not much else you can say about Lucho, his production and leadership for Cincinnati are irreplaceable.

New signee Kevin Kelsy scored his first goal for the Orange and Blue on Saturday. We very well could see the Venezuelan get his first start for FCC tomorrow, but the question is who partners him? Corey Baird was subbed off for Kelsy last game, so signs would point to Yuya Kubo getting another start-up top. It’ll be interesting to see what Pat Noonan decides to do up top.

Wing-back depth has been a bit of an issue this season. Alvas Powell was subbed off early in Columbus, and usual starter DeAndre Yedlin is still questionable with a hip injury. But with Bret Hasley returning from a red-card suspension, he’ll be available.


Giorgos Giakoumakis – #7, Atlanta United

Foe all the reasons stated above, he’s the focal point up top for the Five Stripes, dangerous on set pieces and has very good movement inside the 18. Cincinnati will have to mark Giakoumakis, deny him any space in the box and win aerial duels

Bartosz Slisz – #6, Atlanta United

The Polish defensive-midfielder has been quietly good for Atlanta this season. He’s going to be vital in stopping Acosta and protecting the backline for Atlanta United.

Lucho Acosta – #10, FC Cincinnati

He’s the reigning MVP for a reason, he does nearly everything offensively for this Cincinnati squad. When he scores or gets his name in the box score, FCC doesn’t lose many games.

Luca Orellano – #23, FC Cincinnati

Atlanta loves to get fullbacks Brooks Lennon and Caleb Wiley forward, which leaves a lot of space on the left side for Orellano when Lennon gets forward. He’s been a constant for FCC this season. He scored last time against Atlanta, and he’ll be key for the Orange and Blue come Wednesday.


You can watch along on the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at TQL Stadium.

To Top