What we learned from FC Cincinnati's wild, 4-2 win vs. San Jose Earthquakes

If you stayed up to watch FC Cincinnati's latest win, you were richly rewarded.

FC Cincinnati stormed to a 4-2, come-from-behind victory on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park. Each goal scored was more memorable than the preceding one as Pavel Bucha scored his first for FCC, followed by a nine-minute hat trick for Yuya Kubo.

Trailing 2-1 in the 72nd minute, Kubo, a second-half substitute, combined three times with Luciano Acosta to net the equalizer in the 78th minute, the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute, and the insurance tally in the 87th minute.

The three-goal night brought Kubo's season-long haul up to seven, which tied Acosta for the team lead in scoring.

Acosta's three assists saw his 2024 total jump to 13, which tied Inter Miami CF's Lionel Messi for the lead in Major League Soccer.

FC Cincinnati forward Yuya Kubo celebrates his epic performance in the club's 4-2 victory over the Earthquakes at San Jose Saturday night. Kubo had a hat trick in a nine-minute span of the second half, giving him seven goals for the season.
FC Cincinnati forward Yuya Kubo celebrates his epic performance in the club's 4-2 victory over the Earthquakes at San Jose Saturday night. Kubo had a hat trick in a nine-minute span of the second half, giving him seven goals for the season.

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All told, FC Cincinnati outlasted the scare it received from last-place San Jose, although that scare will be cause for some introspection inside the Mercy Health Training Center ahead of the club's return to action at TQL Stadium on Wednesday against Philadelphia Union.

The biggest scare of the night, though, was an injury to Matt Miazga.

Out latest "takeaways" piece takes a look at the rarity of Kubo's hat trick, one of the realities of supporting FC Cincinnati at the moment, and what Miazga's potential injury means to the club:

Don't ever count FC Cincinnati out (or change the channel)

There are a lot of intangible characteristics that championship-caliber sports teams exhibit, and one of the most prominent of those being displayed by FC Cincinnati right now is that they make you stay tuned in, and you should never turn off the TV when they're losing. FCC is one of those teams that, at any moment, could produce a special goal, a great Roman Celentano save, a rousing come-from-behind result, and so on.

You don't want to be the person standing around the water cooler at work on Monday morning who didn't watch FC Cincinnati's latest thriller.

MLS is a kooky league. On any given night at TQL Stadium or any other venue, you might suddenly find yourself watching an inexplicable goal-fest. It's wild. It's entertaining. It's not what you remotely expected to see when you committed to watching the game, but there you are in the midst of pure soccer chaos as only MLS can deliver.

That was Saturday night at PayPal Park in San Jose. The Earthquakes, the worst team in MLS, had FC Cincinnati on the ropes. San Jose took a 2-1 lead just moments after the painful sight of Matt Miazga, a pillar of the FCC back line, stretchered off the field (more on Miazga below).

I commented on social media that, at 1-1 with Miazga apparently hurt and San Jose growing into the game, a tie would be a good outcome for Cincinnati. You should always beat the Earthquakes, but seeing as that didn't appear to be possible, settling for a draw was an acceptable outcome. And then at 2-1, I thought "the team needs to get out of San Jose as quickly as possible."

FCC had other ideas. Acosta dished three assists to Kubo, who has been a good, reliable goal-scorer at times in in Cincinnati career, but you'd never expect a nine-minute hat trick from him.

What Kubo and FC Cincinnati did on Saturday was testament to a lot of things. On this occasion, let's take note of the fact that you just can't count this group out. Few if any circumstances are insurmountable for them. They won't quit, and that was good enough for three more gritty points.

FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan pulled all the right strings with his second-half substitutions, too − another key component of a team that you can't ever write-off.

The rarity of the Kubo hat trick

How special was Kubo's hat trick, you might ask? Well, it was truly a rare specimen. Here are some of the boxes it checked:

  • Kubo became the third FC Cincinnati player in the club's MLS era to score a hat trick, with Brenner Souza da Silva and Brandon Vazquez being the first two FCC players to accomplish the feat.

  • The nine-minute hat trick tied for the fourth-quickest in MLS history. It placed Kubo on a list with Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United, 2011), Vitali Takawira (Sporting Kansas City, 1998), Jose Vazquez (Los Angeles Galaxy, 1997) and Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC, 2015), all of whom also scored nine-minute hat tricks.

  • Interestingly, Kubo became the second substitute to score a hat trick in MLS play this season but just the fifth-ever player to do it in the league. The others? Well, this year, Alonso Martinez did it for NYCFC. Prior to that, Moussa Djitté did in it during the 2022 season and, to really emphasize the rare air Kubo is in here, check out the other two players in MLS history to record hat tricks as subs: Chris Wondolowski in 2010, and Edson Buddle in 2006.

The downside of the win: What's Miazga's status?

You can skip this section if you want to focus entirely on the surprising win, but there are other considerations and important takeaways from the game.

We could write an entire section on how FC Cincinnati allowed a match to be so open against a decent attacking team − a decent one, not a great one. The playing surface seemed to be a significant issue with players from both teams sliding all over the place.

Obviously, the big question mark coming out of the match is the health of Miazga, who Noonan said was evaluated at a San Jose-area hospital Saturday night with a laceration.

"We know that will get stitched up," Noonan said. "Hopefully, that's the extent of it but we'll give you more information once we get it."

Miazga slid to protect the goal mouth during a second-half threat from San Jose, but his back leg collided with the post. He was carried off the field on a stretcher, which is a sight that inevitably invited a lot concern. Team officials didn't immediately provide an update on Miazga's status around noon Sunday.

The big-picture worry is obviously that FC Cincinnati could be without Miazga for an extended period, which would really hurt because the club could already be without Miles Robinson, its other stalwart center back, for two months due to U.S. Soccer international duty.

Up next: The Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union are next up for FC Cincinnati as they'll visit TQL Stadium Wednesday (7:30 p.m.).

Philadelphia is fighting for a playoff spot, and those efforts took a blow on Saturday when they lost at home, 2-1, to an Inter Miami team playing without Messi and Luis Suarez. Making matters worse for Philadelphia (4-5-8, 20 points) was that Miami was down two players due to red cards for the final sixteen minutes of the match, plus eight added minutes.

Nine-man Miami still found a game-winning goal.

Philadelphia will be without the services on Wednesday of decorated goal-scorer Julian Carranza, who appears set to continue his playing career in the Netherlands. That move is expected to be finalized in the near future.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: What we learned from FC Cincinnati's wild, 4-2 win vs. San Jose