D.C. United takes on league-leading FC Cincinnati at Audi Field tonight at 7:30 pm ET. Cincinnati is captained by Black-and-Red alum Lucho Acosta, who returns to his old stomping ground to take on his former partner on the pitch, Wayne Rooney.

Cincy heads to the District on the heels of a blistering 3-0 mid-week victory over Toronto. As for D.C. United, last week, the team suffered a 1-2 loss at home to Real Salt Lake. Captain Steve Birnbaum was ejected from the match in the first half, and the Black-and-Red played on with ten men.

Despite being down a man, D.C. never gave up the fight, something assistant coach Pete Shuttleworth noted in this week’s press conference. Shuttleworth told the media, “That’s the positive we took out the game is that the spirit of the lads and the way they kept fighting, despite being a man down, was really pleasing to us.”

The Black-and-Red will have a bit of an advantage going into tonight, as they didn’t play mid-week. We hope they’ll take advantage of fresh legs as they try to take away all three points from tonight’s match.

Also, to D.C. United’s advantage – the Orange and Blue’s Matt Miazga and Brandon Vazquez were both called up to the USMNT to play against Jamaica (10 pm ET tonight).

Want to dive deeper into tonight’s matchup? Check out our own Marc Machado as he previews tonight’s match on Cincinnati Soccer Talk with Geoff Tebbetts.

Key Player: Christian Benteke

We’re broken records over here, but Benteke’s consistent solid performances are coming in big for D.C. this season. We’ll look for him to create danger and score against Cincinnati this evening.

Watch Out For: Lucho Acosta

The calls for Acosta to be league MVP aren’t for nothing. Cincinnati’s captain is really a special player and a danger on the field. He’s clinical and determined, something we remember fondly from his D.C. United days. We’ll be watching Lucho on the pitch tonight, and a bit (okay, a lot) sad he’s not in Black-and-Red.

Challenges: Missing Steve Birnbaum was definitely a contributing factor to the Black-and-Red’s last loss against Cincy, and the captain is out of action again, this time due to a red card suspension. Clinical finishing continues to haunt D.C. United, a critical element for a win against a ruthless Cincinnati.

Previously: In their last meeting, Cincinnati won 2-1 at TQL Stadium, snapping D.C. United’s three-game win streak back in early May.

D.C. United Availability:

Out: Martin Rodriguez (knee), Nigel Robertha (ankle), Mohanad Jeahze (leg), Ted Ku-DiPietro (ankle), Steve Birnbaum (red card suspension)

FC Cincinnati Availability:

Out: Brenner (ankle), Matt Miazga (International Duty – USA), Junior Moreno (leg), Brandon Vazquez (International Duty – USA)

Location: Audi Field, Washington, D.C.

Kickoff time: 7:30 pm ET

Referee: Sergii Boiko

Available streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Also, it’s on for FREE on Apple TV this week. So enjoy.


A couple of observations. Lucho leaving here on a free should have been a firing offense for Dumpster Diving Dave. The fact that it wasn’t shows the lack of seriousness and purpose in the ownership/real estate developers who have this franchise. The subsequent shipping out of Arriola and Gressel without obtaining quality replacements is simply compounding the felony.

Birnbaum’s absence actually is a blessing. Listened to DC 96 podcast and they reviewed Birnbaum’s stats this season. He is elite in the air and Samake like in everything else. I’ve noticed at matches that he often plays a step behind the rest of the line, probably because he knows he has no wheels left. Problem is that exposes everyone else to players that time their runs.

Finally, Benteke, Klich and Pines are each one yellow away from a suspension.

Bonus: DCU intends to honor Kevin Payne tonight, I have no idea was this band of merry misfits has planned. I hope it’s not cringeworthy.

Going to the match, expect a loss. I think the season is beginning to slip away. Too many holes in the roster, no speed on the roster and a coach who probably is reviewing BA flights back to Heathrow.


First, Acosta didn’t leave on a “free.” He was out of contract and chose to leave. We made him an offer and he turned it down to go to Mexico. And when he came back to MLS, we got compensation from Cincinnati.

Second, Arriola wanted to leave. That was on Losada.

Third, Gressel going is on Rooney. At the time we were looking to play a system without wingbacks and needed cap space (in part so we could acquire Benteke).

Like Kasper or don’t like him. But those 3 examples aren’t on Kasper.

Talonesque #

Acosta, is that you?

Talonesque #

Seriously, as you’re aware, I have a strong dislike for the ownership group based on years of neglect, but as far as Acosta goes, to not acknowledge his own part in how things wound up is just not right.

Talonesque #

Dominant play from United results in a goal from Santos at the back post, but wakes Cincy up officially. Need to get back some control.

Still 1-0 DC

Talonesque #

2-0 DC! Great header from Pines to Dajome off a set piece, Williams smashed in the rebound from the play!


Me like. Me like very much!

Bryan McEachern

Me Gusta!

Will Nelson

So far DCU taking it to a depleted yet dangerous Cincy team.

Will Nelson

Cincy slowly growing into the game.

Talonesque #

Think we’re going to see some significant adjustments from them in the second half, I get the sense even they don’t know how this formation is supposed to work


I’m not actually watching the game but just saw the goals from the league website.

On the 2nd goal, the Closed Captioning describes Cincy’s goalkeeper as “Satan”. So many horrible rumors now confirmed.

Now on to the most dangerous task in soccer..

….defending a 2-0 lead!

Will Nelson

Wow…I don’t know who that went in…but I’ll take it. 5 holed the goalie

Last edited 5 months ago by Will Nelson
Talonesque #

Dajome finishes off the gk’s foot, wickets in!

3-0, and this half is amazing for us

Will Nelson

Let’s hope its not Jekyll and Hyde

Talonesque #

We haven’t been consistent lately, and Cincy have yet to really fight at any point, but if we can maintain focus for another 45+, this should be a manageable scenario.

Will Nelson

Can Tyler Miller not do that please?

Will Nelson

This half has been very much a Cincy half. Najar coming out and Ruan coming in. Najar picks up a yellow for taking too long to get off the field.

Last edited 5 months ago by Will Nelson
Will Nelson

Woodwork saves our bacon

Talonesque #

Benteke has to finish that, cuz the counterattack was bad

Will Nelson

Murphy’s 2nd yellow and therefore red.

Talonesque #

Second yellow for Murphy, red. We’re playing against 10 men. 💯 accurate

Will Nelson

1 more sub window and 2 subs remaining does Rooney does use them?

Will Nelson

Acosta forces a save out of Miller on the free kick.

Will Nelson

Lucho forces another save out of Miller.

Talonesque #

We did it. Bit of a pop the champagne game, but also probably the kind of result we can’t expect all the time, all the bounces were pretty much in our favor. Still, good to beat a team with that record this comfortably!


Lovely match. Several reactions.

  1. Remember, Noonan was a candidate here (and we passed on him–ownership wasn’t excited). He’s created (working with Albright) a very nice team. And Acosta sure has matured–good for him.
  2. We can say Cincinnati was depleted but so were we. I think their midweek match was a factor too. But as the announcing crew said, our analytics say we’re a better team than our record.
  3. This team plays so direct, I don’t pay attention to the possession stats any more. Even playing against 10 men, we lag on possession.
  4. A lot of good play from a lot of players. Benteke of course was a beast. And Taxi needs to find his game and get sharp. I thought Najar, Durkin, Pines, Santos, Klich all had good games. And we’ll see if we get him on a loan but I don’t think we’d be talking about that (a loan for the rest of the season) unless O’Brien wanted that to happen so that’s a positive thing in our favor.
Talonesque #

The game has become so transitional that I think a lot of experts are leaving overall possession go as a meaningful stat.


Yep. Plus so much depends upon how you choose to play. Park the bus. Or play direct. Or high pressure. Or quick counterattacks. Any of those styles/approaches and your possession stats will be south of 50% regardless of who you play.

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