FC Cincinnati want more “world-class ability” from hat-trick hero Brenner
FC Cincinnati were on a mission Saturday night. And fortunately for the Orange & Blue, so was Brenner.
The Brazilian forward bagged a hat-trick – his second of the season – and notched an assist as Cincy boosted their Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoff chances with a dominant 6-0 rout of the San Jose Earthquakes at TQL Stadium.
After Alvaro Barreal broke the ice just before halftime, Brenner opened the floodgates for the hosts early in the second half, with Luciano Acosta netting from the penalty spot and Yuya Kubo getting in on the action as well before the club-record signing put the icing on the cake with a pair of late goals.
For head coach Pat Noonan, the offensive outburst from the former Sao Paulo man was just what his team needed as they extended an unbeaten streak to nine matches and finished the night sixth in the Eastern Conference table – one point above the playoff line and rivals Columbus Crew – with four games remaining.
“[We saw] world-class ability today,” Noonan said, adding the 22-year-old’s 12-goal, five-assist output on the season is just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.
“It was a version of him that we want to see more often. And if we see it more often, the group will benefit because he’s a very talented player and he helps us win games with what he can do in front of goal.”
According to Noonan, the key to getting the best out of Cincy’s reported $13 million signing is “to try to get him to play with that energy and that motivation all the time.”
Brenner, whose first MLS hat-trick came back in June during a 4-4 draw with New York City FC, also achieved the rare feat of stealing the spotlight from fellow forward Brandon Vazquez (16g, 5a). While the aspiring US men’s national team player had an off-night of sorts, he did assist on his teammate’s first of three goals – proving both strikers form one of the most fearsome attacking duos in the league, alongside Acosta. Their captain is the MLS assists leader with 18 helpers.
“They’ve been strong together for quite some time,” Noonan said. “They have a good balance from what Brandon brings with his strengths and what Brenner brings with his strengths.”
But whoever’s scoring the goals hardly matters to Noonan. What matters is that the goals keep on coming. After all, Cincinnati’s first-ever postseason berth could very well depend on it after three straight bottom-of-the-league finishes.
“We’ve talked a lot about goal differential at this stage of the season,” said the first-year manager. “Wins, tiebreaker and then goal differential. It’s important that when you’re winning a game… you see out a game the right way.
“It’s not to embarrass the opponent. It’s to understand that goal differential can play a role, and probably will.”
WATCH: FC Cincinnati rout San Jose Earthquakes 6-0 at home