It's six weeks into the 2023 Major League Soccer season and FC Cincinnati’s record is still unblemished.
FC Cincinnati turned away Inter Miami CF, 1-0, on Saturday at TQL Stadium to remain undefeated on the season at 4-0-2 and move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Cincinnati’s goal came off the head of center back Yerson Mosquera in the fifth minute of first-half added time. The score was his first in MLS since joining FCC on a yearlong loan from the English Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.
If you had to nitpick FC Cincinnati's unbeaten start through six games, you might say its margins are slim. Cincinnati’s wins have only come via one-goal margins. That doesn't leave room for error, and FCC erred plenty against Miami.
Fortunately for FC Cincinnati, its defense is better than it’s ever been even though it buckles at times. The shutout was the club’s fourth of 2023 and goalkeeper Roman Celentano made three saves.
Miami was denied a penalty-kick opportunity after being awarded a spot-kick in the 35th minute. A review by the video-assistant referee (VAR) eventually led to the penalty being waived off on field-side video review.
The closest Miami came on the night was a 64th-minute strike off the crossbar by Franco Negri.
Another win for FCC
Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan spoke on Thursday about the need for the team to start finding insurance goals, and that was true again versus Inter Miami but FCC survived with a 1-0 win all the same.
Cincinnati improved to 4-0-2 while Miami's four-match slide continued and head coach Phil Neville's side dropped to 2-4-0. This is setting up for a fun and interesting summer for FC Cincinnati based on the points it's banking early on this year.
Miami goes close (64')
Franco Negri beat Roman Celentano from about 30 yards out only to see his shot carom off the top of the crossbar and out for an FCC restart. Malik Pinto is on for Cincinnati in favor of Marco Angulo. FCC will look to start shuting this game down in about 15 minutes.
1-0 at the break
A pretty drab first half closed wrapped up in dramatic style after the VAR decision, plus Yerson Mosquera's first goal in MLS. The live MLS standings currently have FC Cincinnati in first place in the east. There's a lot of action still to unfold both at TQL Stadium and around the league tonight, but that's an encouraging site emanating from the West End.
First blood to FCC (45' + 5)
Wolverhampton Wanderers FC staff and supporters will like this when they wake up in the morning. On-loan center back Yerson Mosquera headed home an Alvaro Barreal corner kick for 1-0.
VAR to the rescue (35')
It took seven minutes to sort out but a penalty kick awarded to Inter Miami CF for a foul by FCC's Marco Angulo was overturned via video-assistant referee. A foul was committed, according to center official Nima Saghafi, but it occurred just outside Cincinnati's penalty area. The ensuing Josef Martinez free-kick went straight into FCC's defensive wall.
We're less than six minutes into the game and Josef Martinez hasn't done any significant damage yet but he's twice found pockets of space around Cincinnati's penalty spot. On the second of those two occasions, he partially deflected his own shot but it would have been trouble if he'd hit it cleanly. It's surprising to see a scorer of 98 goals in the this league - six of those have been against FCC - getting this kind of space from FCC's backline.
Referee Nima Saghafi whistled for the start of the match at 7:39 p.m.
With Junior Moreno (Venezuela) and Marco Angulo (Ecuador) are both in the starting lineup after returning midweek from international duty, and that means one FC Cincinnati makes one wholly unexpected change. Moreno's start isn't a surprise but Angulo's is. The reason for it is Obinna Nwobodo being out for the match due to a hamstring injury.
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FC Cincinnati starting XI: Roman Celentano (GK), Alvaro Barreal, Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund, Ray Gaddis, Junior Moreno, Marco Angulo, Luciano Acosta (captain), Brenner Souza da Silva, Brandon Vazquez.
Inter Miami CF starting XI: Drake Callender (GK), Franco Negri, Christopher McVey, Serhiy Kryvtsov, DeAndre Yedlin, Jean Mota, Bryce Duke, Nicolás Marcelo Stefanelli, Rodolfo Pizarro, Robert Taylor, Josef Martinez.