FC Cincinnati faces Miami in the most highly-anticipated match of the season

MLS Ball by Megan Lee
Photo Credit: Megan Lee

On Saturday, FC Cincinnati will face Inter Miami at TQL Stadium. It is a match between two sides who are both pushing the precipice of the league table. A sell-out is expected, as people crowd the stands to watch the most highly-anticipated match of the season.


Miami is truly a contender for the Shield. Their form has not weakened, even without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez who are playing for Argentina and Uruguay respectively in this summer’s Copa America.  They’ve won all three of the matches they’ve played since their departures.

In that three-game span, other players have had to fill in. Matias Rojas, Julian Gressel, and Diego Gomez have played as wingers in place of Messi, while Leonardo Campana and Shaynder Borgelin have been playing as striker in place of Suarez.

Even some unlikely candidates have scored goals in that span. Ian Fray had scored in two matches in-a-row, and Leo Afonso — their fourth-choice winger — scored the winning goal when they had only 9 players on the pitch against the Union.

Miami is a possession-based side that wants the ball. They average 56% in possession throughout this season. This possession isn’t useless, either, as they average 2.29 goals per match. They have consistently played in a 4-3-3 after experimenting with formations at the beginning of the season.

They will be Cincinnati’s toughest opponent in the league thus far. They have a deep squad that can perform and a possession-based setup that has proven to be effective for Martino and his team.

Of note: Diego Gomez and Jordi Alba are out due to the accumulation of yellow cards.


If any team can beat Miami, it is the Orange & Blue.

In big matches, Noonan knows how to rally his players. When they faced Miami and Columbus in 2023’s semi-final appearances, they were up 2-0 at one point in both. Their deep playoff run included beating the Red Bulls two times in a row and the Union at home. This season, they outplayed and beat Columbus away.

They may have a defensive problem, but there is a huge positive: Miles Robinson has been back from the USMNT squad that was in the Copa America. A near full-strength squad will be crucial for this match.

Their form has been great despite this problem, as they’ve suffered just 2 losses in the past 13 matches. They have looked even better than 2023 at times. They, too, are truly a contender for the Shield.

Doing a two-peat of the Shield is a monumental feat. Whether or not they do it largely depends on matches like this. Even though Miami will be their toughest opponent in the league thus far, they have what it takes to win.


Julian Gressel is Miami’s player to watch. He has a goal or an assist in their previous 5 matches. He also has never lost in the 10 matches he has played against Cincinnati, with 4 assists in that span as well.

Luca Orellano is Cincinnati’s player to watch. Against a team like Miami, width is everything. Luca has played his wide role at left wing-back very well, especially lately where he has 2 goals and an assist in his last 4 matches.

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