FC Cincinnati celebrated a historic moment as they clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the coveted MLS Supporters' Shield with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday.
The triumph marks Cincinnati's first-ever trophy since joining MLS in 2019, a remarkable turnaround for a team that had previously finished at the bottom of the league for three consecutive seasons.
The match began with Cincinnati dominating possession, and they capitalised on their early dominance with two quickfire goals from Brandon Vazquez in the 28th and 35th minutes. It seemed like Cincinnati was cruising to an easy victory, but Toronto FC fought back fiercely.
Jonathan Osorio, Toronto's talisman, spearheaded the comeback with two goals in the first half, drawing the match level at 2-2. The momentum swung in Toronto's favor, and it appeared that the Supporters' Shield dream might slip away from Cincinnati.
However, in the 72nd minute, Aaron Boupendza emerged as the hero, converting a left-footed finish after an outstanding run by playmaker Luciano Acosta. Boupendza's goal not only secured the victory but also ensured that the Supporters' Shield would find a new home in Cincinnati.
This win, combined with their impressive regular season record (19-4-8, 65 points), grants Cincinnati the top spot in the league standings and guarantees them home-field advantage throughout the upcoming MLS Cup playoffs.
Roman Celentano, Cincinnati's goalkeeper, had a mixed performance, committing a crucial mistake that allowed Toronto FC to get on the scoreboard but also making important saves to prevent further damage.
In a match that saw a total of 25 shots and 13 shots on target from Cincinnati, their attacking prowess was on full display. Boupendza, in particular, stood out with his goal-scoring ability since joining the team during the July transfer window.
Despite the loss, Toronto FC endured additional setbacks with DeAndre Kerr exiting the match early due to injury and Latif Blessing being substituted under concussion protocol in the 60th minute.
For FC Cincinnati, this victory not only signifies their remarkable rise in MLS but also their readiness to contend for the MLS Cup as they carry the momentum of the Supporters' Shield into the playoffs.