FC Cincinnati boss Pat Noonan feels the return of captain Luciano Acosta is a major boost for his side as it heads to Inter Miami looking to reverse a run of rough MLS form, with the coach stating that every point is vital as his team approaches the postseason race.

The skipper has missed his side’s last three games through suspension, during which Cincinnati recorded two draws and a loss in his absence to check its chance of ensuring a steady stream of momentum across July.

Noonan is happy to welcome Acosta back into the fold and looks forward to bringing him back into the action in Florida this weekend. He stated that Acosta’s presence in training has already handed an uptick to the rest of his squad as he previewed the crucial need to take a result off Miami.

“He looks like a creative attacking option for us on the field,” Noonan stated. “He’s been good. It’s been nice to have his presence, you can see, just with the ideas of how to get him on the ball and move off the ball, he just adds a different element. It was nice to have him on the field and available.

“Every game we play feels like it’s three very important points. I think we could have said that for a lot of our recent opponents, in terms of where we were in the table, where they were in the table, and a good stretch of home games. So we have a team that’s right behind us in the standings. So it’ll be an important game for us in terms of what the end of the season looks like, if we can go and have a strong performance and get three points.”

Meanwhile, opposite number Phil Neville has waxed lyrical about the acquisition of Corentin Jean from Lens, with the 27-year-old – a former Ligue 1 winner thanks to a couple of games for Monaco in 2016-17 – adding further reinforcement to the Englishman’s squad.

“He’s at a brilliant age where he’s coming up to his peak,” Neville stated. “He’s very versatile, he’s really quick, he can beat people, he’s got really good delivery from set plays and from wide areas. He’s just got that big-game experience. We feel as if he’ll give us that composure in the final third.

“We’ve got in (Alejandro) Pozuelo, we’ve got in now Coco to add to the real good players that we’ve got.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Miami – Leonardo Campana

With 10 goal involvements this term, including eight finishes and two further assists, few players have done as much around the box as Campana to help prolong Miami’s prospects. The team’s growth this year on the pitch comes down in no small part to his fine form.

Cincinnati – Brandon Vázquez

With 11 goals to his name this term – almost twice as many as the next man, Acosta – among the club’s ranks, Cincinnati star Vazquez is continuing to set a strong pace. At just 23, he still has plenty more to give and his prospects could be crucial for postseason hopes.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– FC Cincinnati won its first match against Inter Miami this season, a 3-1 home victory on March 19. Miami had won each of the previous four MLS meetings between the sides, including the two games in Miami by a combined score of 7-2.

– Inter Miami has won six of its last eight home matches (D1 L1) after opening the season winless in three straight at home (D1 L2). Since the beginning of April, only New York City FC (24 points) has collected more points at home than Miami (19).

– Cincinnati drew for the sixth time in its last eight matches (W1 L1), a run that came after drawing one of its previous 30 league games (W7 L22). Cincinnati’s form is in the eye of the beholder, having lost only one of its last eight games but having won just one of its last 10.

– Teams rarely leave DRV PNK Stadium goalless, with Miami keeping just one clean sheet and being shut out only once in its last 10 home MLS matches. Miami has scored in each of its last nine home games, matching the longest such streak in the club’s MLS history (Sep 2020 – May 2021).

– Vazquez’s equalizing goal against Nashville on Saturday was his sixth headed goal of the season, two more than any other MLS player. Vazquez is the only FC Cincinnati player to score with a header this season, and no Cincinnati player other than Vázquez has scored a headed goal since May 2021.