FC Cincinnati have gone from worst to first – and they're celebrating like it.
The Orange & Blue, after clinching the 2023 MLS Supporters' Shield with a 3-2 win Saturday evening at Toronto FC, were greeted by fans at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport upon returning home in the early-morning hours.
During their first three MLS seasons (2019-21), Cincy finished last in the overall standings. Now, they have secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs – ensuring home-field advantage through MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9, should they advance that far.
By winning their last three regular-season games, Cincy (19W-4L-8D; 65 points) can still surpass the single-season points record set by the New England Revolution (73) in 2021. They also have two home games left to potentially match the most home wins in a single season (14) or set the MLS record at 15.
The club's historic turnaround coincides with the ex-Philadelphia Union duo of head coach Pat Noonan and general manager Chris Albright formally taking over before the 2022 campaign. Now, they're the league's first-place team and will compete in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup as well.
Cincy's star player is Luciano Acosta, the Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner who boasts a league-leading 28 goal contributions (15g/13a) and leads the Golden Boot presented by Audi race on the assists tiebreaker. Acosta is one-third of Cincy's attacking trio, working alongside strikers Brandon Vazquez (two goals at Toronto) and Aaron Boupendza (winner at Toronto).
BMO Field bedlam
After Cincy cemented their regular-season supremacy in Matchday 35, the celebrations began at Toronto's BMO Field and in the locker room. The entire club won't soon forget a night like this.