It was a party nearly four months in the making.
“This is a massive result for us, something we needed for a long time,” left back Ronald Matarrita said. “It’s just the first step. We are going to keep going forward and build from this and move on to the next one.”
Players' reactions when the final whistle sounded were real and emotional, making a point to share the long-awaited moment with their adoring fans.
“I’m just very happy to have experienced this, and it means even more with the fans being there,” winger Alvaro Barreal said. “I always try to go around and applaud the fans, no matter if it was a win, lose or draw. I wish this would have happened earlier, but I hope we can keep playing the way we did.”
Barreal opened the scoring for FC Cincinnati in the 39th minute, with Haris Medunjanin providing the insurance tally just before the hour mark.
The victory snapped a 12-match winless streak dating back to their last 2-0 win over Toronto FC, one that came at Exploria Stadium on June 26.
With 12 matches left – seven of which are at TQL Stadium – and 11 points adrift of the Eastern Conference playoff line, FC Cincinnati still have an uphill climb to reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time. They have a short turnaround to face Atlanta United on the road Wednesday (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) before New York City FC come to town Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
However, none of that mattered Saturday night. It was all about three points, the first batch at their new stadium before a raucous and appreciative crowd of 22,636 who have had few chances to celebrate like that since the Orange & Blue joined MLS in 2019.
“You know the fans, they turn up at every game and they are always positive, so that's a good thing,” head coach Jaap Stam said. “We are very happy about that, and that's how it needs to be, especially when you've taken the lead, you go towards the end of the game. You could feel the tension growing in them as well; they got even louder and louder towards the end as well, because they feel as well that the win is going to be there.”