Match Preview: FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United Saturday, August 13, 2022

Atlanta United travels to face FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. 

The 5-Stripes are coming off a big 2-1 win at home against Concacaf Champions League winners Seattle Sounders last weekend. The result was Atlanta’s third win over a Western Conference opponent and 10th multi-goal match this season. 

Now, Atlanta United is looking to take that success on the road and earn back-to-back wins in MLS play for the first time this season. What lies ahead for the 5-Stripes this weekend is FC Cincinnati, a team that also has a lot of confidence coming off a big win. On Saturday, FC Cincinnati defeated Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union 3-1, which ended a seven-match winless run for the Orange and Blue. 

“They’re at home, they’re in good form, so it will be a difficult task for us,” Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda said.

Gonzalo-Pineda-Cincinnati-Preview

Brandon Vázquez Breaking Out For FC Cincinnati 

It’d be remiss to not touch on Brandon Vázquez. The striker was with Atlanta United from 2017-19 and is having a breakout season for FC Cincinnati. The 23-year-old has scored 14 goals, second in the league behind only Sebastián Driussi of Austin FC. Vázquez most recently was named an MLS All-Star and competed on the MLS side against Liga MX earlier this week in Minneapolis. 

“He’s in really good form, having a good season. He’s a goal scorer, so we know what he can do,” Atlanta United defender Juanjo Purata said. “But I think we’re also coming into this game doing things well, so we’re going to go there and try to maintain that same block defensively, keep the same order, the same intensity and try to go there and get three points and keep a clean sheet.” 

Vázquez is the center point of FC Cincinnati’s attack, and when he’s in good form the rest of the group follows. The attackers are especially good in transition when they get a lot of space. The midfield is solid as well. The group features Luciano Acosta, a fellow MLS All-Star, Brenner, a striker who scored a goal in the 3-1 win over Philadelphia, and Alvas Powell, a defender who can get up and down the flank on the right side with a lot of speed. 

Confidence Boost For Atlanta United 

Atlanta United is in a similar moment as FC Cincinnati. After a run of results that didn’t go their way, Atlanta United broke out last weekend against Seattle. The team played well and was rewarded with three points, thanks to a stoppage-time screamer from second-half sub Andrew Gutman. 

The team relished the result for a moment. It was the first win in club history over storied franchise, as well Pineda’s former club, Seattle Sounders. However, Atlanta United quickly moved on, focused on carrying that confidence into the road trip. And with just 11 matches remaining on the year, the team doesn’t have time for anything other than earning results. 

Atlanta could continue their winning trend at a venue where they’ve never lost. Atlanta United is undefeated at TQL Stadium, winning its last match at that venue 2-1 on Decision Day last season behind goals from Josef Martínez and Miles Robinson. 

“We have a certain identity that I think we want to try to play very similar to how we try to play every time, but obviously understanding the challenge we have in front of us,” Pineda said. 

Second Meeting, ‘Very Different’ From The First 

This will be the ninth all-time meeting between the two sides. Atlanta United owns the series record 5-1-3. Atlanta United has only lost one time to FC Cincinnati back in 2020. 

The Eastern Conference opponents met once this year on April 16. Atlanta United dominated possession (65%), doubled up Cincinnati’s shots (22-10) and crossed the ball 27 times. The home side was the better team that day, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances, including a penalty kick in the 63rd minute, and the match ended in a scoreless draw

“We should have won that one probably, but it will be a very different game now,” Pineda said. “Now, they're in different form. Now, they’re more motivated. Acosta and Vazquez coming back from MLS All-Star that gives you a boost as well. So, it will be a very, very different challenge.”

Guzan-Vazquez-april-16

The stakes are higher the second time around. Now, both sides are looking to get points to gain some ground in an Eastern Conference table that is mostly up for grabs. Atlanta United enters the match just two points off the playoff line (28), and a win over sixth-place Cincinnati could create some movement in the standings.

  • BRICK BY BRICK: The April 16 home match against FC Cincinnati marked a difficult moment for one member of the club: goalkeeper Brad Guzan. During the match, Guzan ruptured his Achilles tendon, knocking him out for the season. Watch our documentary and read our feature story on how Atlanta United's big, bald wall is attacking the recovery process.
Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
FC Cincinnati
Atlanta United
Possession
46.5% (23rd)
57.6% (2nd)
Duel Percentage
48.7% (22nd)
52.5% (4th)
Key Passes
218 (6th)
252 (1st)
Goals
40 (7th)
31 (20th)

Players To Watch

Andrew Gutman – He solidified himself as a dynamic fullback on the left side earlier in the season but missed several weeks due to a quadriceps tendon injury. On Saturday, in just his second appearance back, he scored in dramatic fashion for the 5-Stripes, netting the game-winner in second-half stoppage time. The performance earned Gutman a spot on MLS Team of the Week. Although he emphatically stated that would never happen again, Gutman will continue to be an important player for the 5-Stripes as they head into the season’s final weeks.

Andrew-Gutman-Cincinnati-Preview

Luciano Acosta – The attacking midfielder from Argentina is the other player to represent FC Cincinnati as an MLS All-Star, joining Vázquez. Combined, the two have scored 22 goals for the Orange and Blue. Acosta leads the league in assists (14) and is second in MLS in key passes (60). Acosta also plays particularly well against Atlanta United. He's scored six goals in 12 career matches against the 5-Stripes, the most by any player against Atlanta since the club joined MLS in 2017. 

Other Tidbits 

  • Josef Martínez has scored six goals in five matches against Cincinnati, being held goalless in only one of those matches. 
  • Rocco Ríos Novo possesses a 90.8 passing-accuracy percentage, the best among MLS goalkeepers (min. 25 passes).  
  • No active Atlanta United player has tallied more assists against Cincinnati than defender Alan Franco. The Argentinian registered all three of his assists against this Saturday’s opponents in a 4-0 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 15, 2021. 
  • Atlanta United will be wearing the Forest Kit on Saturday. The Forest Kit represents the club’s commitment to sustainability. Check out the details behind the kit’s design and learn more about its story here.

It’s a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff for Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati on Sunday. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream the match.