FC Cincinnati may not win MLS Cup, but star midfielder Luciano Acosta has been named 2023 MLS MVP.
Acosta topped the league with 31 goal contributions in the regular season, including 17 goals and 14 assists. His performances propelled Cincinnati to their inaugural Supporters Shield, and they’re the favourites to reach the MLS Cup final with Hell Is Real derby rivals Columbus Crew standing in their way in this weekend’s Eastern Conference final.
The 29-year-old won 60.37 percent of the votes from players, media, and technical staff, comfortably surpassing LAFC forward Denis Bouanga who took just 14.97 percent. Thiago Almada of Atlanta United FC came in third place, receiving 6.46 percent of the votes.
Acosta is one of only six players in the history of the league to have three or more seasons with a minimum of 10 goals and 10 assists.
He is the ninth player born in South America to be named MLS MVP and the first since Josef Martínez with Atlanta United in 2018.
Previous Argentine winners of the award include Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers, 2015), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew, 2008), and Christian Gómez (D.C. United, 2006).
Acosta joins a list of MLS MVP winners that includes Canadian icon Dwayne De Rosario, who won his only league MVP award in 2011 while playing for Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United. He is still the only player in any North American league to win league MVP while playing for three different teams. Sebastian Giovinco won the award in his debut season in 2015 and Alejandro Pozuelo was named MLS MVP in the pandemic interrupted 2020 season.
Since joining the league with D.C. United in 2016, Acosta has been a formidable offensive player, scoring 58 goals and providing 78 assists, the highest goal contributions by any player during that period. Only Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC, the MVP of last year, has contributed more since Acosta’s 2021 debut with Cincinnati.
His 43 regular-season assists since 2021 rank second among all MLS players during that period, with only Nicolás Lodeiro of Seattle Sounders FC (80) having more regular-season assists than the Cincinnati midfielder since 2016.
Acosta started his professional career at Boca Juniors, making his professional debut in 2014. He was loaned to D.C. United for the 2016 season before the move was made permanent the following year. Before joining FC Cincinnati, he spent 15 months with the Liga MX team Atlas.