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2022 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Ravel Morrison (26')
  • Kristian Fletcher (46')
  • Luciano Acosta (6')
  • Brenner (8', 24', 37')
  • Brandon Vázquez (53')

Brenner's hat trick guides FC Cincinnati over D.C. United into playoffs

Brenner scored his third hat trick of the season and FC Cincinnati sealed their first-ever trip to the MLS Cup Playoffs in style with a 5-2 win at D.C. United in both teams' regular-season finale in Washington, D.C.

Brenner also had an assist, and Brandon Vazquez added a goal and three assists as he and Brenner finished the season tied for the team lead with 18 goals.

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Luciano Acosta added his 10th goal and MLS-leading 19th assist against his former team for Cincinnati (12-9-13, 49 points), which finishes fifth in the Eastern Conference and will visit the fourth-place New York Red Bulls next weekend in a first-round playoff match.

Cincinnati had previously finished last in the East in each of their three previous MLS seasons.

Kristian Fletcher scored his first MLS goal in his first start for D.C., which has assumed Cincinnati's former place at the bottom of the East standings this season.

Ravel Morrison also scored for D.C. (7-21-6, 27 points), which finished the season with four consecutive defeats and missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

The visitors entered Sunday needing only a draw to guarantee a playoff place and quelled any nerves very early when Acosta opened the scoring after only six minutes.

Brenner began his hat trick heroics two minutes later. He started the break when he found Alvaro Barreal down the left, who played a clever back-heel pass to Acosta.

Then Acosta found Brenner charging down the center channel with a throughball, and Brenner guided a low finish past David Ochoa despite a deflection from defender Matai Akinmboni.

The Brazilian got his second goal 16 minutes later when Vazquez took down a ball in central midfield and found him on the break for a relatively straightforward shot on the run past Ochoa.

Brenner saved his best for last in the 37th minute. Acosta began the attack by outmuscling D.C. defender Chris Odoi-Atsem to win a ball in the attacking end.

He played the ball to the right, where Brenner executed a slick give-and-go with Vazquez near the edge of the penalty area and then curled in a gorgeous first-time strike into the top right corner to make it 4-1 going into halftime.

Brenner laid his claim as the most in-form striker in MLS, with nine goals in his last five games.