CINCINNATI (AP) — Álvaro Barreal scored two goals, Luciano Acosto added a goal and an assist Sunday night, and Cincinnati beat the New York Red Bulls 3-0 in Match 1 of their best-of-3 first-round series in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Cincinnati can clinch a berth in the conference semifinals with a win in Match 2 on Saturday at Red Bulls Arena.
Barreal ran onto a perfectly-placed through ball, played by Junior Moreno, at the corner of the 6-yard box and bent a one-touch shot inside the far post to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
Acosta — whose 17 goals and 19 assists in the regular season were tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the MLS — scored from near midfield to make it 2-0 in the 35th. Obinna Nwobodo played a high-arcing clearance and Red Bulls defender Andrés Reyes attempted to head it back to goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, who won a foot-race with Cincinnati’s Dominique Badji to momentarily stop the counter-attack. Coronel slid as he kicked the ball back toward midfield where Acosta chipped it into an open net from the near edge of the center circle.
Barreal, who recorded his first multi-goal game in MLS, capped the scoring in the 89th minute.
Roman Celentano, whose 12 shutouts in the regular season were second most in MLS (Seattle’s Stefan Frei, 14), had five saves for his first career playoff clean sheet.
The Red Bulls have lost six consecutive road playoff games, dating to 2018.
Cincinnati, the Supporter’s Shield champions, is 18-0-4 this season when scoring first.