Luciano Acosta! FC Cincinnati captain scores Messi-esque golazo

The return on investment for Luciano Acosta's brand-new contract extension with FC Cincinnati is already paying off beautifully.

A day after committing to the Orange & Blue through at least the 2026 MLS season, the Argentine playmaker sealed Saturday's 3-0 home win over Charlotte FC with arguably his best goal ever.

On a quick breakaway from his own half of the field in the 78th minute, Acosta accelerated past his marker and skillfully evaded a sliding tackle before weaving through a pair of defenders, capping his brilliant solo run with an unstoppable right-footed finish.

It's the kind of goal that conjures up images of legendary greats such as Argentine compatriot and Inter Miami CF superstar Lionel Messi, while inevitably growing the 29-year-old's already-legendary status in Cincinnati, where he's the club's all-time leader in goals (32) and assists (41).

And with 15g/12a on the year, Acosta is the Landon Donovan 2023 MLS MVP favorite for a club that's poised to win its first-ever trophy in the Supporters' Shield – awarded to the team with the best regular-season record.

"It was another strong performance," head coach Pat Noonan understatedly stated in his post-match press conference. "But maybe you could say on the back-end of that contract being announced, everybody knows it.

"So the crowd knows it, his teammates know it, everybody’s happy about that moment – what does your captain look like?"

As for the magical run and finish that is sure to be in the conversation for AT&T 5G Goal of the Year, Noonan was anything but surprised at Acosta's ability to make it happen.

"Maybe he was a little bit more free, but the plays that he pulled off tonight are, again, plays that very few can do in open space," said Noonan.

With Acosta at the peak of his powers and surrounded by the likes of Brandon Vazquez, Aaron Boupendza and Álvaro Barreal – the latter earning a FIFA Puskas Award nomination on Friday – Cincinnati are serious contenders heading into the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs and, by extension, MLS Cup on Dec. 9.

While Noonan isn't making any predictions on that front, he has no doubt that at the very least, Acosta deserves to take home MVP at season's end.

"No," Noonan said when asked if his superstar No. 10 has any serious competition for the prize. "Pretty biased opinion, but no."