Brenner scores hat trick in FC Cincinnati's 4-4 tie with NYCFC

·8 min read

An FC Cincinnati hattrick or a rookie goalkeeper saving a penalty kick would have stolen the headlines on any other night at TQL Stadium.

Wednesday's match between FC Cincinnati and New York City FC deviated sharply from the norms, though.

A hattrick by Brenner Souza da Silva – FCC's first since joining Major League Soccer – and Roman Celentano's first-half penalty save merely added to the color of a memorable, eventful 4-4 draw between Cincinnati and NYCFC.

FC Cincinnati led 3-0 within 30 minutes of the match kicking off but went to halftime tied with NYCFC, and later trailed shortly after the intermission.

Cincinnati claimed the final tally in the eight-goal thriller through Brenner, who also had two goals wiped off through refereeing decisions.

Brenner's third goal allowed Cincinnati to salvage the tie, but one point from the match wasn't nearly enough to satisfy Cincinnati considering its sizable first-half lead.

"It was as good a 40 minutes as you can ask for against a really good team and as bad a 10 minutes with that stoppage time (in the first half) as you can have," FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said afterward. "Not walking off the field with three points at that stage of the game is certainly disappointing. Then we came out slow in the second half and conceded early. Certainly, we need to do a better job of getting pressure to the ball but I was really pleased – despite the really, really poor 10 minutes and the start to the second half – with the character of the group to continue to push and find the fourth goal."

A crowd of 21,258 attended the contest, which saw FC Cincinnati move to 7-7-3 (24 points) in the Eastern Conference. The club sits sixth in the conference standings.

Cincinnati remained winless against NYCFC in seven tries (0-6-1).

Here's more on how the match unfolded:

The goals

The scoring essentially came in three waves, and Cincinnati fired the opening salvo.

Luciano Acosta punished NYCFC for a failed attempt to play out of the back in the 15th minute. He then assisted on Brenner's 24th-minute goal for 2-0, and Brandon Vazquez provided the assist on Brenner's second – a bicycle kick from about eight yards out.

In between the first and second goals, Brenner had a backheel goal called back. The officiating crew deemed the ball to have passed over the end line and out of bounds in the buildup to the score. The play wasn't video-reviewed.

A 33rd-minute Tyler Blackett handball in FCC's penalty area seemed to foreshadow an NYCFC comeback, and while the comeback eventually came, it wouldn't start on the ensuing penalty kick, which was saved by Celentano.

The stop on NYCFC's Maxi Moralez was one of two saves in the match for Celentano.

Then the second phase of scoring arrived. NYCFC took its foothold late in the first half with Talles Magno pushing the ball across the line in the 44th minute. Heber scored twice in second-half stoppage time to knot the match at three.

The goals were Heber's fifth and sixth in his NYCFC career against Cincinnati.

On the other side of halftime, Gabriel Pereira strolled toward FCC's penalty area uncontested and ripped a shot for a 4-3 NYCFC lead in the 52nd minute.

NYCFC was about to stop the bleeding defensively through the end of the match.

In the third and final phase of the scoring, Brenner pounded home the equalizer for 4-4 from the edge of the NYCFC penalty area. While renowned for being a goal-scorer, Brenner revealed afterward the hattrick was the first of his career.

"He's very happy that he scored three goals but he would change those three goals for a victory for the team," FC Cincinnati Player Welfare Coordinator Rodrigo Frank interpreted for Brenner postgame.

From that point on, FCC pushed hard and convincingly for a winner that ultimately didn't arrive.

A second would-be goal for Brenner was called back in the 90th minute for offside after a video review of the play, which was a designed set piece by FCC.

John Nelson, a late substitute, pushed a chance just wide after that.

On the last chance of the match for either team, Nick Hagglund was denied on a header off a corner kick by Johnson deep in added time.

"I think the ball was half in the goal," Hagglund said. "(Johnson) reached backward to pull it out from what I thought. It was like he was pulling it back. Maybe it was half over the line or whatever. I'm just snake-bit at this point."

After the final whistle

With the match concluded and players, club staff and referees shaking hands, Noonan appeared to become animated on the field during an exchange with the officiating crew.

Asked about the exchange, Noonan indicated he was displeased on multiple levels.

It was later revealed FC Cincinnati felt an assistant referee had unnecessarily instigated the incident.

"I won't reveal it. It was just a minor conversation, you know, some thoughts, but a total lack of professionalism from the 'AR' (assistant referee) with his response, so that's what did it for me," Noonan said. "Regardless of what we think of the officials on the day there's a standard for how you respect each other and how you respect, you know, the game. I think that respect was lost in that moment, so, you know, we should be talking about the three points we could have had in this game. It was a rough day for the officiating crew. Unfortunately, the top guy was on the sideline watching."

Wednesday's officials included: referee Ismir Pekmic, assistant referees Andrew Bigelow and C.J. Morgante, fourth official Allen Chapman, video-assistant referee (VAR) Kevin Stott, and assistant video-assistant referee Chantal Boudreau.

Noonan didn't indicate which assistant referee he felt was at fault.

Hagglund said he appreciated Noonan's zest and desire to advocate for FC Cincinnati. He also cautioned the club couldn't blame the night's dropped points on officiating.

"At the end of the day, we're up 3-0. We have to do a better job," Hagglund said. "We can't depend on officiating. We have to close out the game at that point. So, less about the officiating and more about what we could have done to close out the game and make it easy on ourselves."

Other notes

The hard-tackling Obinna Nwobodo was assessed a yellow card in the match, giving him five cautions since he arrived to FC Cincinnati in late April. Consequently, Nwobodo will be suspended for yellow card accumulation when FCC plays against New England Revolution Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

*** *** ***

*** *** ***

In-match updates: 

Final: FC Cincinnati 4, NYCFC 4.

• 90th minute – Video review: What would have been Brenner's fourth goal of the night was called off following video review. It was deemed to be offisde.

• 70th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (4-4): Brenner Souza da Silva cracked a left-footed score from the top of NYCFC's penalty area to mark the first hat-trick in the club's MLS history.

• 52nd minute – GOAL, New York City FC (3-4): Gabriel Pereira.

• HALF: FC Cincinnati 3, NYCFC 3.

• 45th-plus minute – GOAL, New York City FC (3-3): Héber's sixth career goal against Cincinnati brought NYCFC level after trailing by three in the 30th minute.

• 45th-plus minute – GOAL, New York City FC (3-2): Héber scored his fifth career goal for NYCFC against FC Cincinnati to pull the visitors within one. 

FC Cincinnati forward Brenner (9) celebrates a goal in the first half of an MLS soccer game against New York City FC, Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati.
FC Cincinnati forward Brenner (9) celebrates a goal in the first half of an MLS soccer game against New York City FC, Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati.

• 44th minute – GOAL, New York City FC (3-1): Talles Magno.

• 34th minute – Penalty kick: The penalty kick by NYCFC's Maxi Moralez is saved by FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano. 

• 29th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (3-0): Brenner Souza da Silva. 

• 24th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (2-0): Brenner Souza da Silva. Moments after Luciano Acosta and Brenner combined a goal that was ruled to have gone out of bounds in the buildup, Acosta fed to Brenner and he bicycle-kicked the ball in from about eight yards out. 

• 15th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (1-0): Luciano Acosta dribbled around NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson and tapped the ball home for a 1-0 lead. The goal was Acosta's sixth of the year.

• Game underway at about 7:38 p.m.

FC Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta (10) celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick against Toronto FC during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Cincinnati.
FC Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta (10) celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick against Toronto FC during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Cincinnati.

Pre-match updates:

• FC Cincinnati starting XI: Roman Celentano (GK), Alvaro Barreal, Tyler Blackett, Geoff Cameron, Nick Hagglund, Ray Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin, Obi Nwobodo, Alvaro Luciano Acosta (captain), Brenner Souza da Silva, Brandon Vazquez.

• FC Cincinnati bench: Isaac Atanga, Zico Bailey, Allan Cruz, Yuya Kubo, Nick Markanich, Ian Murphy, Harrison Robledo, Alec Kann (GK). 

• OUT for FC Cincinnati: Ronald Matarrita (surgery rehab), Junior Moreno (leg), Dominique Badji (leg). 

New York City FC starting XI: Sean Johnson (GK, captain), Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Alfredo Morales, Malte Amundsen, Tayvon Gray, Nicolas Acevedo, Maxi Moralez, Gabriel Pereira, Heber, Talles Magno. 

NYCFC bench: Chris Gloster, Thiago, Luis Barraza, Andre Jassan, Kevin O'Toole, Gedian Zelalem, Cody Mizell, Vuk Latinovich, Justin Haak.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Brenner scores hat-trick in FC Cincinnati's 4-4 tie with NYCFC