Brenner hat-trick gives FC Cincinnati its first-ever playoff berth

FC Cincinnati clinched its first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs berth with a comprehensive 5-2 win on the road over DC United. A flurry of early goals got the ball rolling and the visitors never let up as Brazilian forward Brenner bagged a first-half hat-trick. 

Cincinnati came into Decision Day knowing that a win or draw would guarantee a playoff spot and forward Brenner was in a class of his own on the day. After Luciano Acosta opened the scoring just five minutes into the match, Brenner got himself on the scoresheet with a deft flick that found its way across the line with the help of a DC defender.

His second was a bit more definitive. A fantastic assist from Brandon Vazquez played Brenner through on goal where he made no mistake, slotting his shot beyond DC United goalkeeper David Ochoa and into the back of the net.

Brenner completed his hat-trick in the 37th minute with a brilliantly worked team goal. Acosta won the ball back near the corner of DC United’s box and played it to Brenner in the middle of the pitch. A quick series of passes between himself and Vazquez gave Brenner some space to shoot, allowing him to pick out the top corner with a stunning first-time shot.

Despite already being eliminated, DC had some bright spots. A long-distance goal from Ravel Morisson threatened to burst the net in the first half and a great finish from 17-year-old Kristian Fletcher marked his first MLS goal on his first MLS start. While it may have been a disappointing campaign in 2022, Rooney and his side will have some hope that 2023 will see improvement.

Brandon Vazquez added to his hat-trick of assists with a goal in the second half, finishing off a chaotic move inside the area and putting to rest any hope of a United comeback. The win means Cincinnati is the fifth seed in the East and will face the New York Red Bulls in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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