D.C. United ended a glorious three-game win streak (four if you count U.S. Open Cup) as FC Cincinnati remains undefeated this season at TQL Stadium, winning 2-1 over the visitors.

The first half was a deadlock, with D.C. United testing its mettle against a Cincinnati team that sits at second place in the Eastern Conference. By and large, the Black-and-Red held its own with a well-organized defense and a respectable number of opportunities. By the end of the match, D.C. would tally more shots on goal than the host.

Immediately noticeable were the absences of Andy Najar and Steve Birnbaum (Russell Canouse wore the captain’s armband tonight). Apparently, Najar had an issue with his calf in the warmup, while Birnbaum took a knock to the hip in last week’s match against Charlotte FC.

Although scoreless, the first half featured a flurry of chances from both sides that kept supporters on the edge of their seats. Christian Benteke, Taxi Fountas, Lewis O’Brien, and Ruan all made a convincing case for D.C. United. While Lucho Acosta, Sergio Santos, and Matt Miazga sought goals for Cincinnati. To add to the tension, Victor Pálsson clashed with Matt Miazga in the 14′, requiring treatment for a knock to the head.

The second half began with drama as Christian Benteke also took a hard knock to the head in the 53′. Thankfully, the striker remained in the match.

Unfortunately, the Black-and-Red’s good fortune wouldn’t last. Ruan conceded a costly corner in the 58′. Former D.C. United player Lucho Acosta capitalized on Ruan’s gift, and opened the scoring for the Orange and Blue with an Olimpico in the 59′.

Motivated by Acosta’s success and a rocking TQL Stadium, the Orange and Blue would double the lead in the 73′. Álvaro Barreal slotted in a ball from Lucho Acosta from the top of the box to stun Tyler Miller.

When all hope seemed dashed for the Black-and-Red, Taxi Fountas came through with a late match goal to keep D.C. in the match. Capitalizing on a set piece situation, Fountas snuck one past Roman Celentano at the back post in the 90′

When referee Guido Gonzales Jr called for review of Fountas goal, the precious minutes that ticked by stymied momentum and seemed to cost D.C. another chance on goal – and possibly a point. Timewasting on the part of Cincinnati didn’t help matters. Keeper Roman Celentano was booked in the 90′ +7′ for holding up the match.

Wayne Rooney saw the positives in D.C.’s performance, saying, “I thought once we were at about 20-25 minutes we we started playing what we trained and tactically how we felt the space would be and making two, three passes. Then we knew we would get space on either side of the midfield and take their forwards out of the game. And that’s what we were doing and it felt we were in in real control. We just couldn’t get the goal. So I think there’s a lot of positives.”

D.C. United will play against the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday for the U.S. Open Cup Round of 32, then return to the District to face Nashville SC in regular season play on May 13 at 7:30 pm ET.

Watch the highlights from FC Cincinnati vs. D.C. United 

Box Score

MLS Regular Season – Game 11

FC Cincinnati: 2 Acosta 59′, Barreal 73′

D.C. United: 1 Fountas 90′


FC Cincinnati: Roman Celentano, Nick Hagglund, Matt Miazga, Yerson Mosquera, Alvas Powell (Ian Murphy 88′), Obinna Nwobodo, Junior Moreno (Yuya Kubo 88′), Álvaro Barreal (Raymon Gaddis 79′), Lucho Acosta (Malik Pinto 87′), Sergio Santos (Brenner 65′), Brandon Vazquez

D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Victor Pálasson, Derrick Williams, Donovan Pines, Ruan (Cristian Dájome 64′), Mateusz Klich (Ted Ku-DiPietro 88′), Russell Canouse (Chris Durkin 88′), Lewis O’Brien, Jacob Greene (Yamil Asad 88′), Taxi Fountas, Christian Benteke

Misconduct Summary

FC Cincinnati: Acosta 39′, Mosquera 70′, Kubo 90′ + 5′, Brenner 90′ + 5′, Celentano 90′ + 7′

D.C. United: Greene 21′, Benteke 60′, O’Brien 90′ + 9′

Featured image courtesy of D.C. United

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Talonesque #

Well, I can’t really speak to the macro of the game, as fucking Apple decided to be a “bad gateway” after I restarted my computer at halftime to see if I could make the game lag less than it was. That said, I guess I’ll just say what I thought of the goals from the highlights.

The Olympico by Acosta was a weird, kind of fluky play that I don’t necessarily blame Miller for not keeping out. He has responsibilities on set pieces that reacting to a near post corner kick shot that is that swift, it’s not gonna happen very often. When you watch the replay from the goal’s perspective on real time, he reacts, but not fast enough. At any rate, it’s one goal, and we could have recovered.

The second goal looks like a complete structural collapse, and I’m gonna have to blame the three central players. They all get sucked to one side of the field, leaving Acosta several square miles for when the ball gets switched. The backline also maybe should have done better, but when you know who Acosta is, you don’t leave him with that freedom at any point. Some bad decisions on the play.

Lastly, Donovan Pines was pretty much blameless on the goals lost, but was indirectly responsible for the goal we got. Miazga literally couldn’t see over him to what the ball was doing, and when the ball arced to him, it clinks off his head to Taxi, goal.

Overall disappointing, but as I said above, I think the second goal is the greater sin.


Agree about the Olimpico — that was a hockey goal, throw it into a scrum with the ‘keeper screened and see if it bounces in. Someone should have been marking the near post however. The second one was a total systemic breakdown — Miller was poor, but so was the rest of the defense.
Sad to watch Acosta — guy was here, Kasper pissed him off and he left on a free. All that talent and DCU got nothing for developing him. Another major fail from the King of Failure – Dave Kasper. Also rerun by Sam was the Gressel trade and how he would be such a good fit in the 3-5-2 with Benteke. Although he tempered his take by noting that Ruan and Najar are very good as well. Again, another “decision” by the DCU “brain trust” that is just baffling — sort of like selling Arriola when the problem was Losada and then, finally, deciding to dump Losada 6 games in last season. Right now this team is good, but many of the good pieces on approaching their sell by date and I have no confidence that the FO has a plan or can execute a plan to develop a consistently competitive squad here.

Talonesque #

Thanks for the agreement, I find myself with a bit less sympathy for Acosta in the way things played out. I could understand the disappointment of not going to PSG, but it was a last minute fleecing at the end of a transfer window that absolutely should not have happened. If Acosta really believes he was going to replace Neymar or something, or even be at all properly utilized by a famously circus-like powerhouse, he’s delusional. Instead of returning to training in the ensuing weeks and renewing his commitment to the DC, he totally lost it. Unfortunate situation I’m not blaming the club for.


If PSG actually offered DCU money for Acosta — and Pablo and others seem to confirm that — then it’s on Kasper and Levien. If they didn’t want Acosta to go, they had the obligation to match whatever was on the table from PSG, they didn’t, Acosta got pissed and he left and DCU got zilch. That is poor management, not that it doesn’t happen often in that C-suite.

Talonesque #

I don’t think “offer money” is the baseline for an integral part of a roster halfway through a season , especially if it’s a lowball offer made by a club as frankly poorly run as PSG. Had PSG been serious, they could have shown up with time to make serious negotiations, they didn’t. Acosta going for free to another club was mostly his decision, and his downturn in form and focus hurt his stock so that we couldn’t sell him well.

Honestly, the match or give up thing about a valuable player has never been a thing

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #

First, Cincinnati didn’t get Acosta on a “free”–they had to buy his rights from us. Acosta wasn’t going to re-sign with DCU.

Second, I love Gressel. But he’s not a wingback in the form of Najar or Ruan–he lacks their speed and the ability to dribble through opposition.

Third, Arriola wanted out. This happened months before Losada was fired.


First, I don’t think DCU developed Acosta. Acosta is a Boca product. Boca, the club that developed Maradona and Tevez to name a few. Second, as I remember, DCU made Acosta a very good offer and he refused it. He got upset over the whole PSG thing but let’s be honest here, if Lloyd Sam is correct about Acosta being able to play for any club, I would think that guy would be playing for a big club right now but he isn’t. Acosta has a lot of talent like most players who come from Boca but unfortunately for him he’s on the small size and another downside to him is that he is often enough his worst enemy. I acknowledge Acosta’s talent, no denying it but unlike Arriola, I don’t remember him with fondness. Acosta quit on his DCU teammates, his very passive aggressive way to demonstrate how hurt he was about the whole PSG thing. Wholly unprofessional. Then he went to Mexico and that also didn’t work out. As for Arriola, a guy I love and truly wish he was still here, he wanted to leave, you can’t hold them hostage. The team had to do right by him, they did. And Gressel, I think you have to question Wayne on that, he’s the one who decided Gressel was not someone who fit on what he wanted to do. Frankly, I don’t get the completely lovefest for Julian. Julian is an adequate player but he doesn’t come close to the talent that is Najar.

Bryan McEachern



Agree with a lot of this, though I’ll say Julian is much more than adequate. Rooney didn’t envision using a lineup with wingbacks and thought he had a better/cheaper option (in Hopkins?), plus the flexibility from the money we got (which was quite a lot). We’d be playing a lot differently if he were still here, since Benteke usually facilitates our attack just as much as he gets in the box to finish chances. We’d miss out on the stability Najar/Santos provide in the midfield since they’re both much better in possession than Gressel.

Talonesque #

Additionally, at least from the shots that made the highlights, I think we can take heart that Taxi is almost risen again. On one of his on nights, with the chances he gets, he gets a brace. On one of his deity nights, maybe he converts all 3 for a hat trick. We get to play Cincy again, let’s hope the real slim Fountas shows up by then.


Taxi looks spry, he’s going to have a good season if he can stay healthy. He’s started to play closer to Benteke and sort of read and react off him. He’s also been a good help with possession, checking back to help keep the ball.

Talonesque #

Yeah, I do worry that he’s riding the red zone with injuries, even with the routine substitutions we’ve made in many games. I kind of want to rest him more for at least a week, make him a late sub or something, just to make sure he doesn’t lose the progress he’s made.


I’ll single out Pines and Miller for criticism.

Pines has been playing great, but when he was caught in possession twice consecutively, it sort of turned the tide of the game. Cincy got lively and the crowd started getting loud, and sure enough, Cincy scored shortly thereafter. Pines, my man, don’t get caught with the ball on your foot anymore. If it has to go to the opponent’s keeper, I’ll live with it, but no more.

Miller playing defender at the half line shouldn’t happen again. Row Z, please, that’s all you have to do there. Please no more of that. And on the second goal, he was caught cheating on a ball across and left a lot of open net near post. Again, another player who’s been great this season, but this game wasn’t his best.

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