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Mar 29, 2024 10:07 pm

Defense to be on display when Cincinnati visits Charlotte

Luciano Acosta

FC Cincinnati look to remain undefeated when they visit Charlotte FC on Saturday night in a battle of two of the league’s stingiest defenses in the early going this season.

FC Cincinnati (3-0-2, 11 points) has allowed just two goals in the solid start that has put them atop the MLS standings. Not far behind, Charlotte FC (2-2-1, 7 points) has surrendered only four goals.

Cincinnati star midfielder Luciano Acosta will look to test the Charlotte defense after scoring the lone goal in the club’s 1-0 home victory over New York City FC last Saturday.

The goal in the 57th minute made Acosta just the seventh player in MLS history with at least 60 goals and 80 assists.

“When I got here, I said I wanted to build history with this club and now we’ve built the foundation,” Acosta told reporters. “I’m very happy to create stories like this for this club.”

Acosta had two goals and two assists this season and 36 goals and 45 assists in 98 MLS matches since joining Cincinnati before the start of the 2021 season.

Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan was impressed with the accomplishment. The list of players in the 60-80 club includes Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones.

“That just speaks to the consistency that he’s had to reach those numbers,” Noonan said. “The guys on that list are some of the best this league has ever seen, and I think Lucho is rightfully in that group of the best who’ve ever played in our league. Hopefully, we can continue seeing that production as we move forward together.”

Charlotte is looking to tack on another impressive home victory after scoring two late goals to beat the defending MLS champion Columbus Crew 2-0 last Saturday.

Ashley Westwood broke the scoreless tie with a goal in the 83rd minute and Patrick Agyemang added another tally five minutes later.

“I want to score goals,” Agyemang said. “I want to impact the team in a positive way.”

Charlotte has scored just five goals — the same as Cincinnati — so it could be a defensive-minded game.

Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina said the club’s defense has improved from a season ago.

“We are more compact and more together and it is very difficult to create chances against us this season,” Kahlina said.

This is the fifth all-time meeting between the teams. Cincinnati holds a 2-1-1 edge.

–Field Level Media

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