After a semifinal heartbreak last season, FC Cincinnati has clinched the Supporters’ Shield, and with it the top spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the MLS playoffs. This season, their quest for silverware has come up short thus far, with penalty shootout losses in both the US Open Cup semifinal and the Leagues Cup, so there’s a lot riding on these playoffs for head coach Pat Noonan and his squad.
Like another notable MLS side, an Argentine maestro is at the heart of Cincy’s success, and that’s attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, who leads the team in both goals and assists. He’s viewed as an MVP favorite, but he’s far from the only star in this talented side; Álvaro Barreal turned in a huge brace in the playoff opener against the New York Red Bulls, while American Ian Murphy had a great series as well.
The regular season had been very low-stakes for Cincy for quite some time now, as their main priority for awhile was to stay sharp and healthy for the playoffs. But now it’s playoff time, and nothing less than a trophy will be seen as a success for the top seed in the entire league. Cincy picked up an emphatic 3-0 win in their playoff opener against the New York Red Bulls, before securing a spot in the conference semifinals with a game two shootout win, and made the most of that opportunity by dispatching Philadelphia, so let’s dig into how they might line up in their Eastern Conference final playoff match against the Columbus Crew this Saturday (12/2/23).
FC Cincinnati Starting 11 Vs. New York Red Bulls
- GK- Roman Celentano (United States)
- LCB- Ian Murphy (United States)
- CB- Matt Miazga (United States)
- RCB- Yerson Mosquera (Colombia)
- LM- Alvaro Barreal (Argentina
- CM- Obinna Nwobodo (Nigeria)
- CM- Júnior Moreno (Venezuela)
- RM- Santiago Arias (Colombia)
- CAM- Luciano Acosta (United States)
- ST- Brandon Vázquez (United States)
- ST- Dominique Badji (Senegal)
After spending the end of the regular season resting stars to stay ready for the postseason, it’s go time for Cincinnati’s best XI the rest of the way. Acosta will of course be the centerpiece, but he won’t be alone, as this lineup is one of the league’s most well-rounded. Cincy often runs some form of a back three, whether that’s a five-man back line centered around the core three defenders, or a true three-man defense with fullback/midfielder hybrids on the flanks. We’ll project the latter for this particular matchup, as that was their tactic of choice in both first-round games as well as the match against Philly, so we’d imagine that they won’t mess with success.
FC Cincinnati Position Groups
The FC Cincinnati roster, as with any soccer roster, features 4 separate position groups — Goalkeepers, Defenders, Midfielders, and Forwards. Below is a brief breakdown of each that aims to provide insight into how they stack up against other competition in the MLS and domestic cups.
FC Cincinnati Goalkeepers
American goalkeeper Roman Celentano has been solid for Cincinnati this season, as he’s second in the league with 12 clean sheets, with one in game one against the Red Bulls, and is a finalist for goalkeeper of the year, while Alec Kann has been a serviceable #2 when needed to fill in.
FC Cincinnati Defenders
Of course, the defense is a huge part of that clean sheet statistic. They’ve helped the club allow the second-fewest goals of any MLS side, a huge boost for an offense that doesn’t achieve quite as highly. Wolves loanee Yerson Mosquera has been one of the team’s highest-rated players on FotMob with an average match score of 7.37, while Matt Miazga is right behind with a number of 7.16. Left fullback Alvaro Barreal was man of the match five times this regular season as per FotMob, as he’s registered seven goals and nine assists from that position in MLS play, and chipped in a huge brace in the postseason opener.
FC Cincinnati Midfielders
Acosta is of course the star here, with 18 goals and 16 assists this season. Nigerian international Obinna Nwobodo trails only Acosta and Barreal on the team with an average FotMob score of 7.46 this season, as he contributed five assists in the league despite playing a relatively low-lying position. Venezuela’s Júnior Moreno is also chipping in with a really nice season in the middle of the yard, and Yuya Kubo has done a good job as well.
FC Cincinnati Forwards
With Acosta doing so much of the attacking work from a midfield spot, Cincy’s contributions from forwards have been relatively modest. Brandon Vazquez ripped in eight MLS goals this campaign, while Aaron Salem Boupendza had six in just 12 appearances. Lastly, Dominique Badji has done well in relatively limited time on the pitch with five goals and three assists.
FC Cincinnati Full Roster
1- Alec Kann
18- Roman Celentano
25- Paul Walters
36- Evan Louro
2- Alvas Powell
3- Joey Akpunonu
4- Nick Hagglund
13- Santiago Arias
15- Yerson Mosquera
21- Matt Miazga
28- Raymon Gaddis
32- Ian Murphy
33- Isaiah Foster
34- London Aghedo
42- Bret Halsey
5- Obinna Nwobodo
8- Marco Angulo
10- Luciano Acosta
26- Malik Pinto
31- Álvaro BArreal
37- Stiven Jimenez
44- Benjamin Stitz
58- Gerardo Valenzuela
93- Júnior Moreno
7- Yuya Kubo
9- Aaron-Salem Boupendza
17- Sergio Santos
19- Brandon Vázquez
29- Arquimmides Ordonez
FC Cincinnati Starting 11 FAQ
- Who Is FC Cincinnati’s Starting Goalkeeper?
- Who Is FC Cincinnati’s Starting Striker?
- Who Is FC Cincinnati’s Best Player?
Who Is FC Cincinnati’s Starting Goalkeeper?
Roman Celentano has established himself as FC Cincinnati’s starting goalkeeper. He’s saved almost 72% of the shots he’s seen this year in the MLS.
Who Is FC Cincinnati’s Starting Striker?
Cincy often runs a two-striker system, But Brandon Vázquez is undoubtedly the best of the bunch, as the American rising star has scored eight goals and put up four assists in MLS play.
Who Is FC Cincinnati’s Best Player?
This is a simple one; it’s Luciano Acosta, who leads the team in goals, assists, and FotMob rating. He’s been man of the match 10 times according to FotMob, and while he’s significantly outperforming xG, his assists are well-earned.