FC Cincinnati: Yuya Kubo proves "exceptional" with rapid-fire hat trick


A lot can change in nine minutes.

FC Cincinnati and the San Jose Earthquakes know that intimately, as in that short span Saturday evening, FCC forward Yuya Kubo turned what could have been a disappointing 2-1 road loss into a morale-boosting 4-2 win at PayPal Park.

Kubo, who entered as a second-half substitute, made his first appearance in nearly a month after an injury layoff. He scored three times between the 78th and 87th minutes, recording the fourth-fastest hat trick in MLS history and silencing San Jose’s home crowd.

“I don’t think I can remember anybody having that significant of an impact in that short of time,” Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said. “I didn't realize that it was nine minutes apart, but he took his goals well.”

“It was an exceptional performance. I’m certainly pleased for him, coming off of a long absence, to perform so well in a short period of time," Noonan added about the Japanese utility man. "He was exceptional in his minutes.”

MVP magic

While Kubo stole the headlines, reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP Luciano Acosta deserves plenty of credit for recording three assists. The Argentine midfielder repeatedly showed his class in the final third.

“Lucho had some magic in how he was able to advance with the ball,” Noonan said. “Certainly [on] the first goal, the pass that Lucho played was elite. The second one, it’s Lucho on the dribble and it found its way to Yuya. It was an exceptional performance from him.”

The trio of assists brought Acosta's season total to 13, tying countryman Lionel Messi for the most in MLS. Adding to his seven MLS goals, Acosta trails just Messi (Inter Miami CF) and Chicho Arango (Real Salt Lake) in terms of goal contributions.

Saturday’s victory propelled Cincinnati to second in the Supporters' Shield standings with two games in hand on Inter Miami. They've won eight times in their last nine matches, with Acosta either scoring or assisting in nine straight matches at one point.

Miazga injured

However, a second-half scare may make this a pyrrhic victory for FCC.

Reigning MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga inadvertently crashed into the goal post while attempting to block a goal-saving tackle on Amahl Pellegrino's shot. He had to be stretchered off by the medical team.

“We don’t know the extent of it,” Noonan said. “He’s been taken to a local hospital. We know he has a laceration, and that will get stitched up. Hopefully, that’s the extent of it.”

Though Cincy dug deep in the final 30-plus minutes without their star defender, Miazga's extended absence would provide a new headache. Already missing Miles Robinson to USMNT duty at Copa América, they could be without their two most crucial defensive players long-term.