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A View from the Couch FC Cincinnati vs DC United Game Review


FC Cincinnati 

Players: (3-5-2) - Roman Celentano, Alvas Powell (DeAndre Yedlin 58'), Miles Robinson, Kipp Keller, Matt Miazga, Luca Orellano, Obinna Nwobodo (Malik Pinto 32'), Luciano Acosta, Pavel Bucha (Gerardo Valenzuela 84'), Corey Baird (Yuya Kubo 84'), Sergio Santos (Aaron Boupendza 57')

Unused Subs: Evan Louro, Bret Halsey, Quimi Ordonez, Ian Murphy

Captain: Luciano Acosta

DC United 

Players: (4-2-3-1) - Alex Bono, Lucas Bartlett (Matai Akinmboni 68'), Pedro Santos, Aaron Herrera, Christopher McVey, Jared Stroud (Kristian Fletcher 58'), Matti Peltola, Jackson Hopkins (Jacob Murrell 77'), Gabriel Pirani (Conner Antley 68'), Mateusz Klich, Cristian Dájome

Unused Subs: Luis Zamudio, Martin Rodríguez, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Garrison Tubbs

Captain: Pedro Santos


For the second week in a row, DC United fans learned that they would be without an offensive threat just moments before the game started.

Last week it was Christian Benteke who was still absent from the team sheet, and this week it was Ted Ku-DiPietro who was a late game relegation to the bench, and never subbed on. It was announced that Ted KDP had picked up a knock during the week’s practices. 

FC Cincinnati rotated some after their Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16 game on Thursday, and definitely had an eye on their game against Monterrey later this week. Yet the Orange & Blue showed their talent, and depth as Pat Noonan fielded a full-strength lineup for this match, with Kipp Keller, Alvas Powell, Sergio Santos, and Luca Orellano all starting in place of Ian Murphy, DeAndre Yedlin, Aaron Boupendza and Yuya Kubo, showing that he was giving MLS competition priority. 

Coming out of this game it is easy to see that FC Cincinnati will really be dangerous later this season when all these new players have meshed as a team, so it’s good that the Black & Red got this game out of the way.

The second half was a bit nervy for DC United as FC Cincinnati brought on the likes of Aaron Boupendza, Yuya Kubo, and DeAndre Yedlin to make a final push for the win. United’s defense and man of the match Alex Bono denied them though. At the same time Head Coach Troy Lesesne went the opposite way and brought in Matai Akinmboni, Kristian Fletcher and Jacob Murrell, three teenagers from the DMV, who had moments of class, and moments where the need for improvement is easily recognized.

At the end of the game it’s safe to say that United will be happy about returning home from this two game road trip with two points, especially with their best two scoring threats unavailable due to injury.

First Half: 

The game started mid afternoon with shadows and sunlight that seemed to effect players at times. It was a rough start, with neither team able to really get control of the game. Both sides were sloppy in possession with players easily dispossessed, and passes that were definitely not on target. The game was a bit chippy and the referee used his whistle a lot which also contributed to the choppy nature of the game.

United had the first shots on goal, one each from Mateusz Klich and Jackson Hopkins, but they were soft and from distance, so didn’t challenge Cincinnati’s goalie, Roman Celentano, at all. In the sixth minute Matt Miazga delivered Cincinnati’s first real chance when he headed the ball on goal off a corner, but it was stopped by Alex Bono who made the first of his seven saves.

A collision between Cincinnati’s Obinna Nwobodo and Matti Peltola in the twenty-seventh minute forced Noonan to turn to his bench early. Both players went down, but only Nwobodo was forced off with an injury.

Klich’s second shot forced Celentano to make a diving save, as it was going to curl just into the top left corner of the goal.  In the forty-second minute, Klich picked Miazga'a pocket and dribbled to the top of the box, but rushed his shot and sent the ball over the goal.

The rest of the first half saw United hanging on as the Blue & Orange switched on and were the obvious aggressor for the final minutes. However, FC Cincinnati struggled to convert their aggression into goals. Dramatic saves by Bono off shots from Alvas Powell and Corey Baird kept United in the game.


The whistle blew for the half with the two teams knotted at 0-0.

Second Half: 

There were no changes to the lineup at the beginning of the second half for either side. The Black & Red started on the front foot with an aggressive long ball to Cristian Dájome who got behind his defender, but couldn’t keep his shot down and sent the ball over the goal.

After that United found it harder and harder to keep control of the ball as Cincinnati built up more possession. Noonan subbed in Aaron Boupendza and DeAndre Yedlin, in a clear sign that he believed the game was there to be won. They replaced Sergio Santos and Alvas Powell, respectively. The change worked and the Blue & Orange did gain more confidence as they attempted eight straight shots on United’s goal but again could not capitalize as Bono and his defense stood tall.

In the sixty-eighth minute bad luck struck when Lucas Bartlett and Christopher McVey collided going for a ball in the air. United’s two Center Backs went down hurt, and Bartlett was forced to leave the game with injury. He was replaced by Matai Akinmboni, and while the teenager played decently, the substitution did lead to a change in the United’s defensive dynamic.

Head Coach Troy Lesesne would bring in Conor Antley as he switched to a back three and then brought in teenagers Kristian Fletcher and Jacob Murrell to provide youthful energy as a spark for the offense. Both Fletcher and Murrell showed promise, and some offensive talent, but also demonstrated they need to grow stronger, as Cincinnati defenders were able to use their strength to dispossess the youngsters.

The substitutions for both teams would create scoring opportunities as the game wound down. FC Cincinnati’s were by far the most dangerous attempts. Boupendza had the best scoring chance with an up-close shot in the eighty-fourth minute, only to be denied by a horizontal Alex Bono for another outstanding save.

Jacob Murrell would have two shots in quick succession, but one was blocked and the second deflected wide, but both shots were smooth and with power. It’s a certainty that with shots like those, Jacob Murrell will score this season.

And just like that the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Another week of dropped points, but still a performance United can build upon.

Fun Facts

  • The Black & Red 5-2-4 against FC Cincinnati all-time in regular season matchups.

  • The Black & Red have a 3-1-3 record against FC Cincinnati on the road all-time in regular season matchups.

  • Two home matches for FCC, two 0-0 draws. 

  • In Jackson Hopkins, Matai Akinmboni, Kristian Fletcher and Jacob Murrell, the Black & Red fielded four teenagers from the DMV

  • United was out-possessed by FC Cincinnati in the first half but did more with its time on the ball, out-shooting FCC, 8-3. 

  • Midfielder Jackson Hopkins made his first MLS start of the season and had a 91% passing accuracy

  • Midfielder Matti Peltola led the United with 5 tackles and won 13 duels

  • Alex Bono made 8 saves and recorded his first MLS clean sheet of the season

  • Mateusz Klich scored his first goal of the season and his third of the last four games.

Words from the Head Coach:

 “My main Takeaway is you’ve heard me now, Steve, talk probably too often about values and principles, but it’s such an important thing to continue to reiterate, especially in the circumstances today. Away, at a top team in the league obviously the supporters shield winner from last season. Uh-Christen Benteke is out, Ku [Ted Ku-DiPietro] is also out. You know after a really good performance last week. The action we displayed today I think really show exactly what our values are under difficult circumstances we still continue to try to play in our way.”

Game Stats

Observations From my couch: 

  • Ugh! No Benteke! No Ted KDP!

  • When did Roman Celentano start to look like Alex Bono’s younger brother?

  • Mateusz Klich with the shot, but it’s soft and an easy save

  • Klich needed to put more zip on that shot 

  • Bono denies Miazga 

  • Jackson Hopkins with the attempt from distance

  • Hopkins needs to be closer for his shot

  • Klich with another shot, curling away from Celentano, it forced the goalie into a diving save

  • Hard clash at the center of the field between Obinna Nwobodo and Matti Peltola

  • Pinto comes in for injured Obinna Nwobodo 

  • The referee definitely seems like he isn’t up for the challenge of this game.

  • Can’t believe the referee gave Herrera a yellow for that.

  • Alves Powell made it look like DC’s defenders were on skates

  • Nice save by Bono

  • Ball ping-ponging around off the corner 

  • Bono!

  • Bono denied Corey Baird’s point blank shot off the corner kick

  • Another free kick in a dangerous area given up by DC

  • Orellano is slicing through DC’s defense 

  • Somehow Bono kept that ball from going out for a corner kick

  • DC United head to the locker room tied at nil-nil

  • Second half starts

  • United applying pressure again

  • Santos with the long pass to Dájome

  • Dájome with the shot, but high over the goal 

  • Herrera goes for the shot from distance but easily saved 

  • Stroud with a dangerous foul just outside the box, picks up a yellow 

  • Acosta took a dive to get a penalty, picked up a yellow for colorful language 

  • Boupendza and Yedlin in as Noonan thinks this game is for the taking

  • Kristian Fletcher substituted in for Stroud

  • Gabriel Pirani is just nonexistent 

  • Matai Akinmboni, coming on for a banged-up Lucas Bartlett

  • Boupendza with the shot through traffic, Bono dives for the save 

  • Ball ping-ponging around, Boupendza with a point blank shot that a diving Bono saves

  • BONO!

  • Jacob Murrell comes in for his first MLS minutes

  • Jacob Murrell gets two quick quality shots on goal

  • Match ends with FC Cincinnati 0 and DC United 0

  • Pretty pleased all things considered.

Player Ratings:

Bono                8.6

Herrera            7.7

Bartlett            7.0

McVey            6.9

Santos             6.3

Klich               7.8

Peltola             8.2

Hopkins          6.3

Pirani              6.3

Stroud             6.5

Dájome         5.7


Fletcher         6.0

Antley           6.1

Akinmboni    6.1

Murrell          5.7

Man of the Match - Alex Bono - Making a case to continue to be the number on Goalkeeper once Miller returns, Bono almost single handedly earned the Black & Red their one point. He made seven saves! None bigger than the save in the 84th minute, when Bono dove to his left to deny Aaron Boupendza, who shot point blank from 4 feet away. With his seven saves, Bono recorded his first clean sheet of the season.

Up Next: Home a Audi Field to face Inter Miami (2-1-1)


Written by: RJ Rolsen 

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