2024 Match Reports

Still Peachy: FC Cincinnati wins fifth straight in 1-0 victory over Atlanta United

FCC captain Lucho Acosta celebrates his go-ahead assist in the seventh minute, as he assisted in the only goal of a 1-0 victory over Atlanta United. Photo by Anders Saling.

Doubles (wins over the same team both home and away) are hard to achieve in MLS play, but FC Cincinnati has been making it look easy lately.

Fresh off the team’s best effort of the season with a win at Columbus, Cincinnati (8-3-2, 27 pts.) hunkered down for another solid home effort, blanking Atlanta United 1-0 in front of a raucous Wednesday crowd. The Orange & Blue rode an early goal from newcomer Kevin Kelsy and leaned on their stout defense to keep Atlanta (3-3-6, 12 pts.) off the scoresheet.

FCC entered the matchup with four straight MLS wins under its belt, starting the streak with a 2-1 win over Atlanta last month. While the team was entering Wednesday’s match off the high of a big 2-1 win in Columbus, the injury bug bit hard. Corey Baird, Alvas Powell and DeAndre Yedlin all missed the match, but Yamil Asad returned to the lineup after a short injury concern.

The absences forced head coach Pat Noonan to start youngsters Kelsy and Gerardo Valenzuela atop his formation, while Yuya Kubo dropped to right back to fill the void. Bret Halsey also returned after serving a red-card suspension.

The Five Stripes were looking for their first win since March and their first road win this season. Most of the team reported being healthy, but head coach Gonzalo Pineda opted to start midfielder Tristan Muyumba and forward Edwin Mosquera on the bench. Pineda trotted out a standard 4-3-3 formation to start the short week.

Cincinnati drew first blood with a play that felt like déjà vu. In the seventh minute, Miles Robinson picked off a pass and scrambled into the Atlanta box. His deflected shot was picked up by Lucho Acosta along the end line. Much like the goal in Columbus, the captain’s lob found Kelsy’s head again to make the match 1-0 early on.

The goal was Kelsy’s second in two matches, while Acosta’s assist was his 50th with the Orange & Blue.

Kelsy appeared to make it a brace in the 30th minute off of a corner kick from Acosta. However, the ball caromed off the Venezuelan forward’s arm before he could deposit it.

Atlanta’s first half could have ended disastrously. Midfielder Thiago Almada limped off the field after 17 minutes due to an apparent foot injury. However, Atlanta still managed to enjoy a slight advantage in possession (51-49) and continued to press the Cincinnati back line into making mistakes.

Cincinnati enjoyed a first-half advantage in shots (6-4) and shots on goal (2-1). Forward Giorgos Giakoumakis had Atlanta’s only attempt on target, a shot in the 34th minute that was cleanly stymied by goalkeeper Roman Celentano.

Much of the second half involved a search for defensive stability on a slick pitch surface. While Atlanta appeared to have Cincinnati on their heels to start the second half, the back line dug in well to prevent any damage. Cincinnati’s best opportunities came late in the second half, as Acosta couldn’t quite poke a shot past goalkeeper Brad Guzan in extra time.

The back line played a strong defensive effort once again. Matt Miazga had perhaps his best defensive night of the season, leading the team with nine clearances. Atlanta was held to only one shot on goal the entire match and zero in the second half.

Celentano stood strong in goal again, recording his fifth clean sheet of the season.

“It was certainly hard fought, not the not the prettiest game,” Noonan said after the match. “For the majority of the game, I thought we were pretty sloppy and rushing our attacks, and it didn’t allow us to be very efficient in how we defended. We got a good early goal, some good early chances where we were patient with the ball and were able to move the ball up the field but after that, I thought just the rhythm of the game as a whole could have been better. What we did was we defended the box and defended well in transition. That’s what allowed us to get a win tonight.”

Kelsy also commented after the match.

“I’m happy for the result and happy for the team,” Kelsy said through his interpreter, discussing his work with the squad. “It was the next step after making my first game, lots of conversations with teammates and talking about how we can get better when we find ourselves in these situations. At the end of the day, I’m just happy to help the team and contribute in whatever way I can and to respond in that way for the fans.”

The win is Cincinnati’s fifth in a row, keeping them in second place. Inter Miami’s 0-0 draw against Orlando puts them only one point ahead of Cincinnati in the standings. Atlanta’s loss is their third in a row and likely keeps the seat under Pineda a bit hotter.

FCC is fortunate to remain home during the short work week, hosting St. Louis City SC for the first time this weekend. Atlanta shifts their road trip south with a stop in Nashville on Saturday.

Match #13 – FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United
TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Attendance: 24,593
Result: FC Cincinnati 1, Atlanta United 0


FC Cincinnati Starting XI (3-5-2):

Roman Celentano (GK); Miles Robinson (Nick Hagglund 89’), Matt Miazga, Ian Murphy; Yuya Kubo, Obinna Nwobodo (Malik Pinto 65’), Luciano Acosta (c), Pavel Bucha, Luca Orellano (Yamil Asad 90+3’); Gerardo Valenzuela (Bret Halsey 83’), Kevin Kelsy (Sergio Santos 65’).

Bench: Alec Kann, Kipp Keller, Isaiah Foster, Stiven Jimenez.

Atlanta United Starting XI (4-4-2):

Brad Guzan (c – GK); Brooks Lennon, Noah Cobb, Luis Abram, Caleb Wiley; Bartosz Slisz, Dax McCarty (Tristan Muyumba 74’), Jay Fortune (Stian Gregersen 61’); Saba Lobjanidze (Jamal Thiare 61’), Giorgos Giakoumakis (Daniel Rios 89’), Thiago Almada (Xande Silva 17’, Edwin Mosquera 74’).

Bench: Josh Cohen, Ronald Hernandez, Nicolas Firmino.

Scoring Summary:

CIN – Kevin Kelsy 7’ (Acosta)

YC – Bartosz Slisz 23’ (ATL, foul)
YC – Giorgos Giakoumakis 74’ (ATL, dissent)

Next up:
vs. St. Louis City SC, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 18th, TQL Stadium (Cincinnati, Ohio)

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