FC Cincinnati is an American professional soccer club based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that plays in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS). The team succeeded the lower-division team of the same name and was announced on May 29, 2018, when MLS awarded an expansion franchise to Cincinnati. The team began MLS play on March 2, 2019 with its first match against Seattle Sounders FC. The club's ownership group is led by Carl H. Lindner III with Jeff Berding serving as president and Gerard Nijkamp as general manager.
|Full name||Football Club Cincinnati|
|Nickname(s)||Orange and Blue|
|Founded||May 29, 2018|
|Owner||Carl Lindner III|
|General manager||Gerard Nijkamp|
|Head coach||Ron Jans|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2019||Eastern Conference: 12th|
Playoffs: Did not qualify
The owners of the USL club began negotiations with Major League Soccer over a potential expansion franchise in early 2016, and Cincinnati was announced as one of ten cities that had expressed interest in the slots for teams 25 to 28. MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited Cincinnati in December 2016 to tour Nippert Stadium and meet with city and club officials, complimenting the city and its fans. FC Cincinnati formally submitted its expansion bid in January 2017, including a shortlist of potential stadium locations.
On May 29, 2018, Major League Soccer announced that Cincinnati would join the league in 2019 as an expansion team under the FC Cincinnati brand. The West End Stadium, a 26,000-seat soccer-specific venue in the West End, is scheduled to open in 2021.
FC Cincinnati signed their first two MLS players, Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe, in July 2018. Adi was the team's first designated player. Both players were loaned to the FC Cincinnati USL team for the remainder of the 2018 season.
FC Cincinnati selected five players from certain MLS teams in the expansion draft, which took place on December 11, 2018.
The players were Darren Mattocks (D.C United), Kei Kamara (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Roland Lamah (FC Dallas), Eric Alexander (Houston Dynamo), and Hassan Ndam (New York Red Bulls). Kei Kamara was then traded to the Colorado Rapids for an international roster spot.
On May 7, 2019, the club fired head coach Alan Koch after a 2–7–2 start to the 2019 MLS season. Assistant coach Yoann Damet was named as interim head coach. President and general manager Jeff Berding cited a culmination of on-field performance and off-field matters for the dismissal.
On August 8, 2019, Ron Jans was officially hired and made Head Coach of FC Cincinnati.
The West End Stadium will have a capacity between 25,500 and 26,500 making it one of the largest soccer-specific stadiums in Major League Soccer. The stadium will include a grass field as well as a full canopy roof that goes around the entire stadium bowl and covers all seated rows. The roof and facades will have Ethylene tetrafluoro-ethylene (ETFE) foil technology which can be used to light up the stadium during events. The design for the inside bowl of the stadium incorporates a cut-out feature in the southeast corner that will give spectators a clear view of the Cincinnati skyline from their seats. In the north end of the stadium will be the FC Cincinnati's supporters section, The Bailey, which will be almost twice as large as the current supporters section at Nippert Stadium. Many new premium seating and entertainment options will be available to fans that include multiple club seating options and suite configurations. The needs of the players played a major role in the design of the team areas that include the team room and medical facilities. The West End Stadium will meet all requirements to host CONCACAF and FIFA events. The stadium will be an enticing location to play for international club teams during their American tours and friendlies in their offseason. Furthermore, Cincinnati is one of the final twenty three host city candidates for the 2026 World Cup.
Colors and badge
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor||Ref.|
|2019–present||Adidas||Mercy Health Partners|
FC Cincinnati reached a multiyear deal with First Financial Bank to serve as the club's exclusive banking and financial services partner. First Financial will gain many benefits from this partnership. There will be a First Financial Gate as well as a premium club area at the new stadium. They will also be involved in planning community events, fan experiences and game-day activities.
The club recognizes the following supporters' groups: Die Innenstadt, the Pride, Queen City Firm, the Bridge (formerly the Legion), the Briogáid (formerly the Bailey Bastards), Auxilia One (based in New York City), and Hangar 937 (based in Dayton, Ohio).
Cincinnati has an in-state rival in Columbus Crew. The idea of the Ohio soccer rivalry first gained popularity ahead of a 2017 U.S. Open Cup match between FC Cincinnati (then in the United Soccer League) and the Crew. The rivalry was dubbed the Hell Is Real Derby after a billboard on Interstate 71, the highway between Columbus and Cincinnati. The clubs will face off in their first-ever league matches in 2019: on August 10 in Columbus and August 25 in Cincinnati (the latter match will take place during MLS Rivalry Week).
In November 2019, Meg Whitman purchased a minority stake in the club. Whitman will serve as the club’s Alternate Governor on the MLS Board of Governors.
In May 2019, Dutch football executive Gerard Nijkamp joined the club as general manager to oversee all the club’s sports activities. Nijkamp will be reporting to Berding.
On January 30, 2019, FC Cincinnati reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to have WSTR-TV televise all home and away games, except for ones already scheduled to be broadcast nationally. Continuing from their roles on the former USL team, Tom Gelehrter calls play-by-play with Kevin McCloskey as color analyst. Lindsay Patterson serves as sideline reporter.
Players and staff
|General manager||Gerard Nijkamp|
|Head coach||Ron Jans|
|Assistant coach||Yoann Damet|
|Assistant coach||Ivar van Dinteren|
|Goalkeeping coach||Jack Stern|
|Director of sports performance||Gary Walker|
|Director of sports medicine||Aaron Powell|
|Strength & conditioning coach||Austin Berry|
|Video analyst||Diego Martinez del Campo|
|Head of scouting||Hunter Freeman|
|Regional scout||Doug Elder|
|Manager of team personnel||Tommy Rogers|
|Data and analytics||Alexander Schram|
Last updated: November 12, 2019
Source: FC Cincinnati
|Alan Koch||February 17, 2017;– May 7, 2019|
|Yoann Damet (interim)||May 7, 2019 – August 4, 2019|
|Ron Jans||August 4, 2019 – present|
Bolded players are currently on the FC Cincinnati roster.
Bolded players are currently on the FC Cincinnati roster.
- MLS franchise awarded in 2018 but did not begin play until 2019. In late 2019 a vote was held by the local Ark Elders and the team was renamed the Rabbit Hash Dog Mayors beginning with the 2020 season to celebrate the great heritage of dogs running the entire state of KY for four decades. FC Cincinnati played in the USL and was founded in 2016.
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- "West End Stadium".
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- Soshnick, Scott (November 27, 2019). "Meg Whitman's Stake Values Cincinnati Soccer Team at $500 Million". Bloomberg News.
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- "WSTR Star64 Announced As Local Broadcast Partner". FCCincinnati.com (Press release). MLS Digital. January 30, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
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