The MLS Roster Build
The MLS Roster Build
It seems that no matter how confident I am with Jeff Berding and the rest of the staff, they continue to surprise me with their success in bringing top talent to Cincinnati. Leading into last season, FC Cincinnati made waves across the USL with the caliber of players they brought in. With the likes of Emmanuel Ledesma, Nazmi Albadawi, and others, it was known throughout the league that FCC was focused on winning matches. As FC Cincinnati move closer to the start of their first season in MLS, the staff is beginning to make similar waves throughout this league.
The plan, for FC Cincinnati, has always been to move into MLS. Many of the players signed for the USL club this past season were also meant to be the foundation to this new roster. I was not surprised to see Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma, and Forrest Lasso get the nod up to MLS but seeing players such as Justin Hoyte, Jimmy McLaughlin, and Emery Welshman had me perplexed. Now I am not here to put down any players, but international spots are important when it comes to building an MLS roster and Hoyte, at 34 years old, did not seem like a good pick up. I hope he proves me wrong.
I would be lying if I said that I was not concerned with how FC Cincinnati’s MLS roster would shape up after seeing 11 players brought up from our USL side, but I am beginning to understand the reasons why. Jimmy McLaughlin and Corben Bone are both players who were with FCC from the beginning. I truly believe that played a role in their signing along with the support those two receive from Cincinnati. On top of that, these are players who understand Koch and his tactics. They have played within the system and know what the organization expects of them. At the same time, FC Cincinnati knows that they can most likely offer them the league minimum to stay and have a chance to play for an MLS team.
The signings of Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe were one of the biggest moves USL will probably ever see and the wizardry of Luke Sassano helped make that happen. That brings me to the next topic that deserves attention; our technical staff. As the USL season came to a close, FC Cincinnati hired Jorge Alvial as head of scouting, Hunter Freeman as a domestic scout, and Doug Elder as a regional scout. These individuals have been able to identify elite talent at the highest level.
Now to get into the details on our more recent signings. I have been surprised by the caliber of players we are bringing in. By no means are we starting off the season with the best team in the league, as many would argue we did last season, but what we seem to be bringing in is experience. Players such as Eric Alexander, Greg Garza, and Kendall Waston are three names that are known across MLS. Alexander, though no longer in his prime, provides a great deal of experience that can be passed down to our younger signings, Garza brings the experience of playing for an expansion side and recent MLS Cup winners Atlanta United, and Waston has logged many minutes for the Whitecaps. Recently, we signed players Mathieu Deplagne and Leonardo Bertone who have great experience overseas, including Champions and Europa League matches.
Overall, we have a solid group of players thus far. Similarly, to the struggles we encountered at the beginning of last season, I imagine it takes us awhile to mesh. We are not spending the cash that LAFC did, but we seem to be putting together a group of individuals who, as we’ve heard many times, “have a chip on their shoulder”. This team will not be planning a parade at the end of the season but should be able to hold their own in their first year in MLS. Regardless, this will be a very exciting year for FC Cincinnati supporters and I look forward to watching the likes of Rooney and Zlatan against the orange and blue.
More roster news:
FC Cincinnati aims to complete most of MLS roster by Christmas. Among the players that are rumored to be joining the squad are Matias Fernandez, who captained Necaxa for Liga MX, and Portland Timbers defender Alvas Powell. FCC has acquired the rights of Roland Lamah from FC Dallas but are still negotiating a contract.