FC Cincinnati defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Saturday at TQL Stadium, as goals from Brandon Vazquez, Brenner and Alvaro Barreal propelled the team to their first win over the Eastern Conference leaders in eight matches.
Cincinnati’s victory also snapped the Union’s five-match winning streak, achieving what teams like Inter Miami, D.C. United and New England Revolution could not. The three points boosts Pat Noonan’s side to six in the West, seeing a comfortable MLS playoff spot for the first time this season.
"It was an important win at an important time. I think based on our home form and our opponent, I don't think I would have expected us to create as many chances against a very good defensive team as we did. I was really pleased with that," said first-year FCC head coach Pat Noonan.
"We know when we step on the field in this building, that we can play and beat anybody. We've shown that. It's doing it on a more consistent basis that allows you to be more confident, players, coaches, all of us. So, hopefully, this strong performance can carry over now into a stretch run where we have three of the next four at home, and we can pick up some very important points."
Forward Brandon Vazquez stands behind FC Cincinnati’s sudden rise, managing 14 goals and four assists in 23 appearances this season. After two disappointing seasons with the team, the striker now sits just two goals behind current Golden Boot race leader Sebastian Driussi.
"The first two seasons were very frustrating. Barely winning any games, it's hard," said Vazquez, who was traded to Cincinnati from Nashville SC in November 2019. "Turning the page to where we are today, it's incredible the way this team has grown and the hunger this team has grown to have, and I'm ecstatic where we are today."
Noonan echoed Vazquez’s thoughts, adding that the chemistry he holds with Brenner can inspire a successful postseason run for FC Cincinnati.
"I think they work well off of each other. Brandon, when he's got to play with his back to goal, [and] Brenner, in his high soccer IQ, how he finds pockets to receive balls to switch play, which is something we talk about a lot, how he receives balls to be able to run at defenders. I think they're doing those things well, and then their movement in the box right now is outstanding. I think they're hungry to score goals," he added.
With an overall record of 8W-8L-8D and 11 games left to play, the pressure is now on.