Luciano Acosta finds "best form" as FC Cincinnati roll through MLS


1-0 to FC Cincinnati: It’s a familiar refrain for the Supporters’ Shield leaders, who have now earned six of their 12 total wins this season by that exact scoreline, with their latest coming in Matchday 17’s narrow victory over Chicago Fire FC.

This time Luciano Acosta played the hero, making it twice on the year he’s scored Cincy’s lone goal en route to victory.

And while April’s penalty-kick blast to lift his side over the Philadelphia Union was sweet, Saturday’s immaculately taken 83rd-minute dagger against Chicago may have been sweeter. The Argentine playmaker deftly controlled a long ball switch from Santiago Arias with the outside of his boot, took one efficient touch to create space in the box, and then fired home a near-post blast past Chicago goalkeeper Spencer Richey.

“If you're just looking at production and the ways in which he's helping our team win games, I think it's fair to say it might be the best form that I've seen since we've been working together,” FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said postgame.

Making Saturday's display all the more impressive was that it came on a night where Acosta had to carry the bulk of the attacking burden by himself. With Sergio Santos out hurt and Brandon Vazquez and Dominique Badji starting on the bench due to squad rotation, his skillful goal wound up being the only shot on target either team generated on the night.

“If you look at the rotations that we've had and the fact that he's still out there today, it's part of him convincing me that he's okay, and I believe that," said Noonan. "But he's a competitor, and I think he recognizes how special this group is, and he wants to be out there leading the way.”

Lead the way he has. With 7g/3a for the top team in the table, Acosta may be the league's most underrated, and possibly even best, No. 10. Though don’t let the jersey number fool you. Part of the MLS veteran’s brilliance this season has been his positional flexibility. In Saturday's match, Noonan praised Acosta's ability to play in a front two and create with “how he comes off the back line” and “how he presses.”

For the head coach, whether it's on the field, off the field, playing in the midfield or as a striker, Acosta is doing it all right now.

“I couldn't be more pleased with his leadership, his production, and he's a big part of why we're in this position,” said Noonan.

FC Cincinnati host second-division side Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Tuesday for the US Open Cup quarterfinals before returning to league play on the road against Vancouver Whitecaps FC next Saturday (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).