Luciano Acosta celebrated his 29th birthday goal by scoring late in the first half and MLS-best FC Cincinnati extended their winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over struggling host New York City Football Club on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Playing on his birthday for the second time in his MLS career, Acosta scored his 23rd career goal since joining Cincinnati.
Alvaro Barreal scored on a free kick after Acosta was fouled in the 59th minute and that proved to be the game-winner as Cincinnati (11-1-3, 36 points) also improved to 6-0-1 since its 5-1 loss at St. Louis on April 15. Brandon Vazquez converted a penalty kick in the 70th minute after Yerson Mosquera was fouled by NYCFC's Tony Alfaro in the penalty area.
Braian Cufre, who was shown the yellow card for shoving Cincinnati's Mosquera late in the opening half, scored in the 64th, but NYCFC (4-7-4, 16 points) fell to 0-5-1 in its past six games. NYCFC also had a goal disallowed by Gabriel Pereira due to a foul early in the first half.
Cincinnati goalie Roman Celentano made five saves.
Matt Freese made two saves in his first start for NYCFC and first regular-season start since Oct. 27, 2021 for Philadelphia.
Cincinnati produced several good chances shortly after the 20th minute but could not score.
Santiago Arias was denied by Freese in the 22nd and Barreal's rebound try was blocked. Vazquez had a shot sail high in the 25th, and Acosta was denied in the 27th.
Shortly after Celentano stopped Keaton Parks' header attempt, Cincinnati took the lead. Dominique Badji got a pass from near the goal line and moved the ball to Acosta, whose right-footed kick from slightly outside the box sailed into the net and settled in the top right corner.
After Barreal scored on a left-footed shot that went into the top right corner, Cufre had enough room against Arias to send a soft header by Celentano, but Vazquez finished it off by easily scoring on the penalty kick.
--Field Level Media