What To Expect When You're Expecting MLS
I know what you are thinking: Cincinnati is still mourning the playoff loss and I am over here writing about things to look forward to? Listen, we had a memorable season. When we lost, I jumped right into FotMob and removed the USL from my favorited list. We are past that now and I am much more excited about the news to come. I consider the future a new chapter in FC Cincinnati’s history – Part 2 if you may. Part 1 was a huge success, but things are about to get exciting for FCC.
During the next few months, we will hear about current players that will not be joining us next year. We posted our thoughts here. We will say our farewells and see which of the lucky ones will be moving on with us. At the same time, I foresee the surfacing of rumors pertaining to future signings *cough* “Lukaku to FC Cincinnati.” Last year, there was much to look forward to as we signed players like Emmanuel Ledesma and Nazmi Albadawi. This year I expect there to be even more excitement. Why? Because we will be looking at a much more skilled field of players to choose from.
After the MLS Cup, there will be the MLS Half-Day Trade Window. On December 9th, beginning at 9:00 AM EST and ending on 1:00 PM EST, FC Cincinnati will look to wheel and deal with the other MLS teams for the first time. One notable signing during last year’s half-day window was Kei Kamara who joined the Vancouver Whitecaps and had 14 goals and 6 assists in 28 appearances. Could FCC land a future star here? We will see.
Next on FCC’s agenda is participation in the 2019 Expansion Draft on December 11th. Every year that a new expansion team joins the MLS, a draft is held for the expansion team(s) to pick up new players. There will be a list of eligible players that are released, and the team will have five rounds, three minutes per round, to select a player. One of the rules states that the expansion team cannot select more than one player from the same team but, as the lone expansion team, FCC will have the list all to themselves. Existing teams have the right to protect 11 players from their senior, supplemental, and reserve roster. Also, Generation Adidas and Homegrown players are automatically protected. With the recent news of Austin potentially joining the MLS in 2019, we may see them jump into the mix, but I find that unlikely and would be highly irritated if that was the case.
Once the Expansion Draft is completed, we should begin seeing the roster take shape. Leading up to the MLS Superdraft on January 11th, FCC will partake in the Waiver Draft and Re-Entry Draft, along with the open Free Agency period. For a player to be eligible for Free Agency, they must be over the age of 27, have 8 MLS service years and be out of contract. The selection of players that meet all those qualifications is slim but provides FCC the opportunity to sign a veteran player who can provide experience and knowledge to our future.
So far, I have only touched the surface of what is to come in the next few months. Though player signings will be very exciting, FCC’s training facility in Milford will be taking shape. This facility is expected to be fully operation by July 2019 and all site work is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Though I am sure those dates get pushed back, they do plan on having the temporary team facilities prepared in January when training begins.
Some news that has recently hit the airwaves is the announcement of our new branding. FCC supporters will have the opportunity to see the new brand identity and redesigned crest, Monday, November 12th at the Woodward Theater in OTR. The task of rebranding FCC was given to global brand consulting firm, Interbrand. The company was also responsible for 2018 Serie A Champions Juventus’ new branding that was released back in 2017. They describe their new logo as a, “…iconic, simple design centered around sharp lines and will surely steal the spotlight no matter where it is used.” I was not a fan of the new branding for Juventus and it has me a little nervous for what is in store for us, but I think that if we go with a crest, it can’t be that terrible.
The MLS schedule with be released in the beginning of January and boy am I excited to see this. After watching away matches be played on a baseball field, I am excited to be able to go watch an away match at an actual stadium but more importantly, not have to deal with whatever some USL teams use for camera crews. A couple matches that I will look for right away are when we play DC United at Nippert and if we play LA Galaxy at Nippert or in LA. Having an opportunity to watch Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović would be unbelievable.
As you see, from November to mid-January, there will much going on. Unlike last winter when we were on pins and needles waiting to hear from the commissioner on our MLS bid and our local government on our stadium deal, this winter should provide more positivity. With the addition of MLS players Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe along with the hiring of former Manchester United scout Jorge Avial as the Head of Scouting, I imagine FCC is not done making some big moves. Berding said it best, “I tell people, ‘If you want to be mediocre, go somewhere else.’ We do not want to be average. You do not get excellence with modest effort, you get it with enormous sacrifice. And I believe that’s the culture of our club – We’ll show up tomorrow; we have a plan. We’ll execute the plan.”
So, for all of you that are upset with the way this season ended, cheer up. Imagine everything that has happened in the last three years and know that we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what will be a long and exciting history for FC Cincinnati.