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Game Day Hub: NYCFC vs FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium

A New York City missing 9 players travels to Porkopolis to face an undefeated FC Cincinnati.

Courtesy Populous

It's Matchday 5, and New York City FC are in Porkopolis the Queen City to face FC Cincinnati, last year's winner of the Supporters' Shield.

New York City are coming off a gritty 2-1 home win over a previously undefeated Toronto FC. An NYCFC reduced to 10 players contained Toronto for 22 minutes of regulation time – and another 12 minutes of stoppage time – to earn their first points this season.

Game Day Essentials

• Matchday 5: FC Cincinnati vs NYCFC

• Date and Time: Saturday, March 23, 7:30 pm ET

• Venue: TQL Stadium in Cincinnati

• Forecast: Chilly with dropping temperatures, 43F/6C

• Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV – Max Bretos and Devon Kerr (English), Diego Pessolano and Daniel Chapela (Español)

• Listen: NYCFC Radio – Glenn Crooks and Matthew Lawrence (English), Roberto Abramowitz and Ariel Judas (Spanish) 

• Officiating Crew: Rafael Bonilla (referee), Hayden Oscanoa and Raidel Toledo (assistant referees), Jaime Herrera (fourth official), VAR referees TBD

They'll face a Cincinnati that are also undefeated in MLS league games. Cincy lost twice to CF Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in recent weeks, but have a 2-2-0 record in the Eastern Conference.

All that aside, tonight's game might depend more on player availability than recent form. New York City will be without nine players because of injuries, international duty, and that iffy red card against Toronto. Cincinnati could be without Luciano Acosta — and that alone makes them vulnerable.

Read on for more.

NYCFC vs Cincinnati H2H

11 6 2 3 28 17 11

The historic head-to-head is a relic of Cincinnati's early years, when they were the league punching bag. New York City last beat Cincinnati on September 18, 2021, when Taty Castellanos led the attack and scored the game-winner.

In 2022, the teams drew both of their games. Then last year, Cincy won all three of matchups. Cincinnati scored seven goals in that run, while NYCFC scored just one.

New York City FC

• Player availability: Midfielder Maxi Moralez (ACL) is still recovering and remains unavailable. Forward Talles Magno (knee) also remains on the injury list. Keaton Parks (red card) is serving a suspension. International duty is taking a bigger toll. Striker Mounsef Bakrar (Algeria), defender Tayvon Gray (Jamaica), defender Mitja Ilenič (Slovenia U-21), defender Christian McFarlane (England U-17), striker Jovan Mijatović (Serbia U-19), and goalkeeper Tomás Romero (El Salvador) are all with their national teams.
• We'll do the math for you: That's nine unavailable players total.
• How will head coach Nick Cushing field a team missing so many missing players — including both strikers and both right-backs? Hudson River Blue's Andrew Leigh has some ideas.
• New York City will be in blue tonight, wearing their Interboro Kit.

Predicted NYCFC Starting XI

FC Cincinnati

• Player availability: Backup goalkeeper Alec Kann (hand) is unavailable. Defender Miles Robinson (USA) is on international duty. Midfielder Luciano Acosta (ankle) and midfielder Obinna Nwobodo (leg) are questionable.
• Cincinnati might have two wins and two draws in MLS league games this year, but they haven't exactly been an attacking powerhouse. The team have just four goals (NYCF have three), and were held scoreless twice (the same as NYCFC).
• Maybe it's because Cincy never fully replaced striker Brandon Vazquez, who is now with Monterrey – and who scored twice against his former team in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. According to Laurel Pfahler of the Queen City Press, the offense is still missing a piece and isn't quite clicking.
• Want to learn more insider info about Cincy? Read Oppo Research: 5 Things about FC Cincinnati.

Predicted FC Cincinnati Starting XI