The beautiful game has grown across the globe, becoming more popular in the USA in recent years. The growth of MLS has overtaken previously popular sports in some towns and cities, with soccer culture now being world renowned for the good and the bad.
The tendency to mock American Ultras is often misplaced by European fans, but in Cincinnati, Ohio, their fans are determined to show that football is no laughing matter. Something that has not only transcended the terraces but also the quality of football on the pitch too.
Who are FC Cincinnati?
This incredible story began in the United Soccer League in 2016. The original FC Cincinnati were announced as a club on 12th August 2015, by team owner Carl H. Lindner III.
They began playing in the 2016 USL campaign, instantly becoming the most supported club in the second tier of US soccer. By 2017, they were averaging crowds of 21,199 every home game at Nippert Stadium. T club boasted six sanctioned supporter groups, all of which commanded their own area of the stadium.
Through three years in the USL, Cincinnati played 96 games, winning 51, losing 19 and drawing 26. They finished third and then sixth in 2016 and 2017 respectively. In 2018, they dominated.
That season, FC Cincinnati finished first in the Eastern Conference after winning 23 of 34 games, losing a mere 3 times. Despite being dismissed in the Conference semi-finals, the fans set the USL record for average home attendance at 25,717.
As a club and fanbase, Cincinnati were crying out desperately to be acknowledged as an MLS club. As we know, there remains no playoff system in professional soccer. They vouched to be recognised as such, demonstrating their interest to be a part of MLS’ expansion plans.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was wowed by the magnitude of Cincinnati’s fanbase and the promise of the franchise. On 29th May 2018, it was announced that Cincinnati would join MLS under the ‘FC Cincinnati’ brand in 2019.
The aforementioned Lindner III will serve as the CEO of the club, having been involved since the club’s creation. In addition to his role, Lindner also remains the majority owner of the team.
Jeff Berding, formerly an executive for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1996-2015, will serve as President and general manager of the franchise. He too has been a part of the club in the same role since its birth.
Alan Koch served as head coach of the USL FC Cincinnati team in the 2017-18 season, as well as last year’s campaign. For his efforts during the latter, Koch was named USL Coach of the Year. This is largely due to the club’s record-breaking season. Not only did they achieve club highs in wins (23), but also total points (77), home wins (12) and away wins (11). He helped the team garner their first ever win in the postseason. He will retain the same role for Cincy’s inaugural MLS season, as he hopes to replicate the team’s on field success.
Fanendo Adi became the team’s first ever designated player signing. In the upcoming 2019 season, look for him to present himself as their key player.
He’s a natural goalscorer, proving this for a number of clubs. Adi possesses fantastic awareness inside the box, often notching goals in-and-around the penalty spot. He is cool in front of goal. Adi’s height also benefits the team immensely, as he stands at 6”4’, he is a fantastic target man in front of goal.
His professional career to date has seen him feature for eight clubs, appearing in 226 games. He has scored 90 goals. He is the Portland Timbers’ all-time leading goalscorer with 54.
Cincy’s first match
The world shall rejoice on 2nd March 2019 as MLS returns to our screens. FC Cincinnati begin play the following day against the Seattle Sounders at Century Link Field.