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Busio scores again, Zelalem starts as Sporting KC ties FC Cincinnati

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Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes rotated his squad for its match at FC Cincinnati, and it paid off in a point on the road.

One of the stars of the show was 16-year-old Gianluca Busio, who looked calm and composed in his central midfield role on the ball and even came away with a goal, even though it was a bit of a gift after a mixup by FC Cincinnati’s defense. In addition, Gedion Zelalem made his MLS debut starting in Sporting KC colors, going 57 minutes alongside Busio as Zelalem builds match fitness. Busio’s goal set a new MLS record for the teenager.

[WATCH: Watford completes stunning comeback v. Wolves]

Busio’s goal cancelled out Darren Mattocks’ first half penalty kick, and the MLS expansion side had multiple chances in the second half on counter attacks to pull out all three points.

Cincinnati took the early lead in the 19th minute after Roland Lamah was taken down in the penalty area. Darren Mattocks stepped up and sent Adrian Zendejas the wrong way to give the hosts the lead. It was Mattocks’ first of the season and seemed to give him an added boost of confidence.

Both teams had chances to score later in the half, with Kelyn Rowe missing a great opportunity in the box and Mattocks blasting a strike off the post.

In the second half, Kekuta Manneh was put through on goal but put his shot wide, and Cincinnati was made to pay. With the ball off on the left wing, Busio made a run through the middle of the park and was nearly picked out by Rowe. However, with Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey and left back Greg Garza approaching the ball, the two collided and failed to clear the ball, leaving Busio to finish into an empty net.

In a game that finished at 1-1, it will be remembered by both sides for all the missed changes to both. One of the other bright spots, related to the U.S. Men’s National Team, was the play of Kenny Saief. In his first start since joining FC Cincinnati, the American-born, Israeli-raised attacker floated into the middle from the wing and dribbled at defenders, creating plenty of chances for Cincinnati in the attacking third.

Ultimately though, it was Busio who stole the show. Just 16, it’s a bright sign for the future for both Sporting KC and the USMNT as he develops in the professional game.

Saief, Manneh extend FC Cincinnati’s impressive start

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FC Cincinnati looks like it isn’t the walkover many experts were predicting it’d be, extending its unbeaten run to three matches with a 2-0 win over defense-free New England on Sunday.

Kekuta Manneh and Kenny Saief set each other up for goals as the expansion side moved to 2-1-1 through four matches.

Brad Friedel‘s New England now has one point through four matches.

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Teal Bunbury nearly took advantage of slow-to-react-at-the-back Cincinnati but punched a wide-open look way over the frame.

And after Emmanuel Ledesma just missed with a few bids from distance, FCC made his threats proper foreshadowing albeit from in-tight.

USMNT winger Kenny Saief slotted ball into the mixer that Manneh slotted for 1-0 before halftime.

Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey made a pair of outstanding stops on Carles Gil and Diego Fagundez around the hour mark to keep the advantage in tact.

Saief made it 2-0 in the 65th minute, a disorganized Revolution losing track of the former Anderlecht man.

VIDEO: FC Cincinnati’s incredible fans excel in MLS home opener

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FC Cincinnati are one of the major success stories in American soccer in the last decade. Scratch that. Probably in the top five, ever.

Their home opener as a Major League Soccer franchise on Sunday proved that fact beyond doubt.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Ever since they burst onto the scene in their debut season in 2016, FC Cincy have stunned everyone along the way at every major milestone point. Their incredible levels of support in the USL saw them average over 17,000 fans for three-straight seasons (their last USL season saw an average of 25,717 to set a new league record), and they had huge crowds of over 30,000 for U.S. Open Cup games and a big friendly against Premier League side Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016.

This is something that has been created from the bottom up, and a team which feels genuine. Three years ago nobody would have said Cincinnati, Ohio was a hotbed for soccer. Now, it is one the hotbeds.

So, we expected something big for their home opener against Portland Timbers and Cincinnati delivered on and off the pitch.

Their first-ever MLS win celebrated wildly by a crowd of 32,250 fans, and the strong bond the club has created between themselves and the various supporters groups is wonderful to see. It is reminiscent of what MLS have at home games for the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, LAFC and Atlanta United to name a few of the recently successful expansion franchises.

Of course, Cincinnati still have a way to go to match the likes of Portland, Seattle and Atlanta in terms of success on and off the pitch, but they have made an exceptional start.

Before, during and after their 3-0 victory over the Timbers, the FC Cincinnati fans delivered a cauldron of noise inside Nippert Stadium which really makes you wonder why they would need to move to a soccer-specific stadium nearby.

There’s no doubt the new stadium they are building in the West End of Cincy will be awesome, but the spiritual home of this club is at the football stadium of the University of Cincinnati and is a huge part of their story.

Whatever happens in the years to come, FC Cincinnati will always look back on March 17, 2019 as a wonderful celebration in their history. It was the day that Cincinnati arrived as a soccer destination in MLS and it is clear it will become a key city in the rise of the sport in the U.S. in years to come.

Below are a few videos which set the scene throughout a memorable day for everyone connected with FC Cincinnati.


FC Cincinnati earns first MLS win by clobbering Portland 3-0

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FC Cincinnati sealed its first MLS win in dominant fashion, hammering the Portland Timbers 3-0 behind three different goalscorers.

Kendall Waston opened the scoring just 15 minutes in, heading home a free-kick after he got in front of Claude Dielna to bag the first home MLS goal for the club. They put the game away with a quickfire double just after the hour mark, started by Allan Cruz who took Roland Lamah‘s deflected shot and back-heeled it into the net past a helpless Jeff Attinella who was rooted to the spot.

Mathieu Deplange killed off the game just two minutes later, thanks to Victor Ulloa keeping the ball alive on the left flank. The 27-year-old pilfered a loose ball down the touchline, and while his cross couldn’t find a mark, Darren Mattocks sent it back in and found Deplange for the finish at the doorstep.

Portland then lost a man in the 70th minute as Larrys Mabiala earned his second yellow card for bundling over Kekuta Manneh on the break just at the top of the box. It’s the second straight week Portland has lost a man to a second yellow card, and it left them toothless to produce any type of comeback.

The three points puts Cincinnati on four points after its first three matches in the league, right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference off the jump.

MLS Preview: FC Cincinnati hosts first MLS match

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As we reach week three of the MLS season, exactly half of the league’s teams are still looking for their first win of the year, including FC Cincinnati, which hosts its first-ever MLS match.ย  Below, we’ll preview the top three upcoming matchups on tap this weekend in MLS:

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers โ€” Sunday, 5 p.m. ET

Major League Soccer fully arrives in Cincinnati this weekend, as FC Cincinnati hosts its first ever MLS game. Like its previous two games, this one will be no easy task for the expansion side, as it hosts MLS Cup finalists, the Portland Timbers. It’s a reunion for Fanendo Adi, who left the Timbers last summer to join FC Cincinnati in a trade between the two clubs, but it’s also a big test for the Timbers. Amazingly, the Timbers are winless in 22 consecutive matches when Diego Chara is out. The Colombian was sent off in last week’s rout at Los Angeles FC, putting his team behind the eight ball early in the season.

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders โ€” Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Suddenly, with the acquisition this week of Nicolas Gaitan, on paper at least, the Chicago Fire look like they can be a playoff squad. Veljko Paunovic’s side features Bastian Schweinsteiger dropping deep as a centerback, Dax McCarty patrolling midfield, and then Gaitan, Alexander Katai and Nemanja Nikolic and this team has the spine and talent to make a deep playoff run. They’ll get a chance to test themselves against a team always in the playoff picture, and one that’s benefitted by the return of Jordan Morris. After routing FC Cincinnati and soundly beating the Colorado Rapids how will the Sounders respond to its first road match of the season?

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake โ€” Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

This game may have gone under the radar in the past, but both of these teams have four points from two games and are off to a hot start in the 2019 MLS season. It’s a return to D.C. for Mike Petke, who helped D.C. United win MLS Cup in 2004, while it’s also a chance to see Wayne Rooney against one of the best pair in MLS history, Kyle Beckerman in midfield and Nick Rimando in goal. Real Salt Lake’s young, Homegrown-filled squad could surprise D.C. in Audi Field, unless Rooney and Luciano Acosta have something to say about that.

Full MLS Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Saturday

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders – 1 p.m.

Columbus Crew v. FC Dallas – 2 p.m.

Houston Dynamo v. Vancouver Whitecaps – 3 p.m.

New York Red Bulls v. San Jose Earthquakes – 3:30 p.m.

Orlando City v. Montreal Impact – 4 p.m.

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake – 8 p.m.

LA Galaxy v. Minnesota United – 10:30 p.m.

Sunday

New York City FC v. Los Angeles FC – 3 p.m.

FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers – 5 p.m.

Atlanta United v. Philadelphia Union – 7 p.m.

Toronto FC v. New England Revolution – 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids v. Sporting KC – 9 p.m.