Pat Noonan’s side became the first team since the 2002 San Jose Earthquakes to win their first 10 matches at home to begin a season – a testament to the Orange & Blue’s dominant 2023 campaign where they're atop the Supporters' Shield standings.
“There’s some really good energy in this city right now and you can feel things turning a little bit,” said Noonan postgame. “The goal is to continue to push forward in a way where there’s trophies at the end of all this.”
Making Wednesday’s performance even more impressive, Cincinnati earned all three points in convincing fashion despite missing center back Matt Miazga and striker Brandon Vazquez before they play with the United States at the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup.
But they had their talisman and Landon Donovan MLS MVP candidate Luciano Acosta (9g/4a) leading the way. The 29-year-old midfielder put Cincy ahead, 2-0, before adding a deft assist to set up Dominique Badji, who put the game to bed in the 63rd minute.
And Noonan gave MLS debuts to a trio of youngsters, including 15-year-old Stiven Jimenez – the youngest player in club history to sign a homegrown contract.
“What a team win. [I] couldn’t be more impressed with the team that went out there and played a strong game against a really good team,” said Noonan.
Added the Cincy head coach: “Guys just stepped up. And then to be able to give a Stiven Jimenez a debut, Bret Halsey who we call up and needs to step in and give us minutes. You know, [Gerardo Valenzuela]. That’s pretty cool when you can get that many guys debuts against a good team and still win a game. It was overall just a strong performance.”
A team that’s clicking on all cylinders right now, the victory sees Cincinnati (13W-1L-4D) – the best team in MLS through Matchday 20 – extend their lead atop the standings to eight points over second-place Nashville SC with one less game played.
And soon Cincy also be joined by new DP striker Aaron Boupendza, who’s expected in town once the Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 5. The Gabon international was acquired to help fill the spot created by Brenner's transfer to Serie A side Udinese.
Add in how Cincinnati are currently the favorites to win the US Open Cup, and Wednesday’s record-setting evening may just be the tip of the iceberg for Noonan’s side in 2023.
"Just couldn't be more pleased with the group," Noonan said. "I could tell, it feels good for a lot of those guys under the circumstances and how they stepped up."