With the first round of MLS Cup playoffs shifting to a best-of-three series, the league hoped for drama-filled games and FC Cincinnati delivered by defeating New York Red Bulls in a penalty shootout 8-7 to advance past the first round of playoffs on Saturday, winning the series 2-0. While home teams have dominated these playoffs, Luciano Acosta was able to spark FC Cincinnati to grab an equalizer via Aaron Boupendza before an epic penalty kick shootout.
New York goalkeeper Carlos Cornel saved two penalty kicks but the Red Bulls had not one but two chances to end the game with John Tolkin hitting the post and 18-year-old Serge Ngoma sending his penalty take flying. Drama amped up when former Red Bull defender Matt Miazga sank his penalty kick before responding to the fans and receiving a yellow card that will now see him suspended for Cincinnati’s next match.
With Cincinnati playing the remainder of their playoff games at home, in past seasons, the chance to go into a hostile Red Bull Arena wouldn’t have been possible with it only being one game and done. Some of the tension was lost in the opening games of series’ but with the first game two in the books, there is plenty of drama to go around.
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The Supporters’ Shield winners will now face the winner of the Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution series with a few concerns. Not only will Miazga be suspended but defensive midfielder Obinna Nwobodo was also withdrawn with an injury which is another reason why ending the series early is a good thing.
The conference semifinals won’t begin until November 25th giving Cincinnati almost three weeks to rest. Pat Noonan will need to ensure that his team is fresh with such a long layoff between matches but after a long season, it provides a good time to rest before an important match. With MVP favorite Acosta in the side, they’ll be ready for whatever comes their way.