Enough ink has been spilled (er, pixels illuminated) about FC Cincinnati from writers like me. So we thought we’d hand this one over to the experts.
By “experts,” I mean the guys at Cincinnati Soccer Talk, Cincinnati’s foremost authority on all things FCC. These are the guys to listen to if you’re looking to keep apprised of our latest and greatest sporting franchise.
Meet Nick Seuberling, founder and managing editor, and Bryan Weigel, content director and co-host of the podcast.
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Cincinnati Refined: What was your favorite moment from the inaugural season?
Nick Seuberling: The home opener. I've grown up in Cincinnati, and I've seen soccer teams come and go. For a first year franchise, on a 25-degree day in April, to have 14,000 people attend a soccer game... I was stunned. More importantly, I was proud of my city.
Bryan Weigel: Yeah, the first match. It was freezing, sleeting, and downright awful weather. As a group, the supporters marched into the stadium and I was shocked how many people there were an hour before the match. Fans just kept filling in, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
CR: Best opposing fan base?
Bryan: I have much respect for Charleston, Richmond, and Rochester. Those groups have been around for 20+ years supporting their teams and through many different leagues and turmoils with U.S. Soccer. Their number might not be as large as supporters of Louisville or Cincinnati, but their passion is tough to match.
CR: Who is our main rival?
Nick: There's no question our main rival is Louisville, and it's for a few reasons. They didn't like the fact that FC Cincinnati came in and outdrew them. We played on a field that didn't have a pitchers mound, and they started calling fans of FCC plastic. We, as a fanbase, took exception to that. Then, in that first match with Louisville, they jumped out to a 3-1 lead on us in the first half... It didn't sit well.
CR: What are the most important storylines heading into 2017?
Nick: New coach Alan Koch comes in with a lot of head coaching experience at different levels around the world. He was appointed at an odd time as the team was a day away from flying down to Florida to begin preseason training. He's got a winning track record, and I think he'll have the guys ready to go for week one.
Second, we need to score more. The FC Cincinnati front office made it a point to improve their offensive attack this off-season. They brought in international players like Djiby Fall and Daryl Fordyce to add to the goal tally. They're obviously replacing USL's best goal scorer from last year in Sean Okoli, who moved on to MLS. Victor Mansaray looks like he could be a threat in the offensive third as well for the Orange and Blue.
Third, attendance. Hard to top what FC Cincinnati did last year at the box office. Can they break their own records? The club has stated that they want to average 20k a game. That would be an incredible achievement in year two for the club.
Bryan: Also, is a soccer-specific stadium on the horizon? MLS is requiring that all expansion clubs are the primary tenant in their building and hope that all clubs will build a soccer-specific stadium. Nippert is a wonderful venue, but a quality SSS in an urban location would be what MLS is looking for.
CR: Who are two FCC players—either new or returning—casual fans should look out for?
Nick: Djiby Fall as I mentioned previously. He just seems to have a knack for scoring goals wherever he's been. Aodhan Quinn is another name I'd watch out for. He may not be the goal-scoring threat like Fall. However, Quinn is a midfielder who was Louisville's captain a year ago. He joins an already talented midfield group for FCC.
Bryan: Daryl Fordyce. FC Cincinnati was lacking a creator in an attacking role. Fordyce comes to Cincinnati after a duration with FC Edmonton in the NASL. He has already created many chances in the preseason and will need to continue to do so for FCC to succeed. Also, Matt Bahner. The Cincinnati native comes to FCC after two seasons with Jacksonville. The defender, known for his attacking prowess, will help create chances off the wing. These will be vital so FC Cincinnati can offer different looks when going on the offensive foot.
CR: In the “wishful thinking” category, does FCC get an MLS bid? If so, when?
Nick: Of course, I've got my orange and blue blinders on, so I 100 percent believe FC Cincinnati should get an MLS bid. But there are a lot of factors involved as well. It's hard to argue with the attendance figures from a year ago. If I had to make a prediction we're looking at 2022 at the latest for FC Cincinnati to join MLS.
CR: If it were up to you, does FCC stay at Nippert or pursue a new stadium? If the latter, where is your dream location?
Bryan: If FCC gets into MLS, they need a new stadium. I would love to see one in the West End community. Though if they stay in USL, Nippert would be a wonderful home.
Nick: Don't get me wrong, I love Nippert Stadium. However, there are some things about Nippert I'm not a fan of. I don't like that The Bailey is so high above the field. I'd love for that section to be right behind the goal, making it loud for opposing defenses. It's loud enough as is, but imagine if that section went all the way down to the field right behind the goal. From a TV perspective, Nippert and the cameras don't do the sport of soccer justice. It's a football stadium and those camera locations suit football just fine, but it's not meant for soccer.
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Welp, I could keep going with questions... but I'm pretty sure my editors wanted to cut me off 300 words ago. Thus, that'll have to suffice in quenching your soccer appetite for now. The good news is we are exactly three weeks away from the home opener on Saturday, April 15. Can't. Freaking. Wait!
Check out Cincinnati Soccer Talk’ for much more info on FC Cincinnati’s second season of play.