Luciano Acosta hits another level for FC Cincinnati: "I get better with age"


How does Luciano Acosta, the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP who's putting together another spectacular season for FC Cincinnati, stay so dominant for so long?

"I'm like wine," the 30-year-old playmaker said after posting 2g/1a and scoring the dramatic 100th-minute winner in Wednesday's wild 4-3 home victory over the Philadelphia Union. "I get better with age."

Acosta's Matchday 21 heroics were just the latest highlight in another marquee campaign. After a stellar 17-goal, 14-assist season secured him MVP honors in 2023, Cincinnati's electric talisman continues to one-up himself.

Through 18 games this year, he's up to nine goals and has already matched last season's assist total while keeping Cincinnati in the hunt for a second-straight Supporters' Shield. They're currently second in the MLS standings behind Inter Miami FC and lead the league in points per game (2.17).

A match for the ages

Wednesday night's win was a testament to their never-say-die attitude. In a true rivalry matchup featuring seven goals, four lead changes and two goals in second-half stoppage time, the Orange & Blue once again prevailed.

And they did so in large part thanks to one of the league's best-ever offensive players.

"After so many games, so many big ones, you get more tired, but the truth is it’s all mental," Acosta said in Spanish. "This team’s mentality is huge."

Not a one-man show

As good as Acosta is, as strong as his penchant for the spectacular can be, he's not the only headliner in this Cincinnati festival. Luca Orellano, the offseason loan signing from Brazilian top-flight side Vasco da Gama, dropped one of the most spectacular goals of the season in the 60th minute.

Spotting Union 'keeper Oliver Semmle off his line, the 24-year-old wingback pinged a shot from just across the midfield stripe, putting the ball on a rope over Semmle's head and into the net.

"We were working on it in training," joked head coach Pat Noonan after the match. "Obviously the quality and being able to hit a ball 60 yards and just get it under the crossbar is pretty impressive. That was an impressive moment from Luca. ... Confident players make big plays."

MVP repeat?

Acosta made no bones about his intentions before the season started.

"Go twice as hard this year," he laid out his goals for at this year's Media Marketing Day. "Win the MVP award again. Go back-to-back."

No player in Major League Soccer history has ever won the MVP award in consecutive seasons, and there's a flood of competition in 2024. Lionel Messi, currently on Copa América duty with Argentina, has 12g/13a for Miami; Chicho Arango has Real Salt Lake atop the Western Conference standings thanks to his 16g/10a and LAFC star Denis Bouanga (12g/6a) is looking more and more like the player who took Golden Boot presented by Audi honors last season.

But Acosta is right there with the rest of the pack and getting help from newcomers like Kevin Kelsy – who opened the score with a 29th-minute header on an assist from Cincy's superstar No. 10 – and Orellano.

"Before the game tonight, I told [Orellano] to shoot at goal," Acosta said of his fellow Argentine's likely AT&T Goal of the Year candidate. "And well, he shot and I don't think he even thought it would be a goal."