Orange and Blue Press had a chance to speak with retired FC Cincinnati defender Paul Nicholson, who recently became head coach of Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC. He filled us in on his transition to coaching, Zeus de la Paz’s transfer, and CDLFC’s upcoming Meet & Greet this Sunday at the House of Orange in Covington. He also gave us his two cents on FC Cincinnati’s offseason activity in pursuit of a USL Cup.
A native of Whitehaven, England, Nicholson made 37 appearances for FC Cincinnati in 2016 and 2017 and a total of 153 appearances during his pro career, good enough to position him in the top ten in the USL in games played. Although he just retired in 2017, he’s held a variety of coaching positions since college—“I’ve been coaching for basically as long as I’ve been playing in the States,” he told us in the interview.
We asked Paul about making the transition from professional player to his first full-time head coaching job at the PDL level.
“It’s been a big change. We’re not on the field yet, we don’t start until May 1st. . . . Being in the office every day, talking to coaches and recruiting players is just a different day’s work than being a professional athlete. . . . You’re in the office from 9 to 5 and sometimes a lot longer, but I’m enjoying it immensely, and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do when I stopped playing. So to get this opportunity here is fantastic for me.”
Play the full audio in each segment for more detail than what is contained in the quotes.
The Cincinnati Dutch Lions are making headlines in 2018, not only by appointing Nicholson as the team’s skipper but also in the transfer market. Curaçaoan goalkeeper Zeus de la Paz, who spent 2017 with the Lions, recently signed with Oldham Athletic of England’s League One. We asked Paul what it meant for a CDLFC product to get an opportunity at such a historic English club.
“It speaks volumes for Cincinnati Dutch Lions, . . . and the opportunity that we can provide our players, and give them a showcase to present their skills to the world. . . . We’ve had a lot of guys go pro over the last few years. Zeus is the latest and he’s probably gone as high as anyone,. . . We’ll miss him because of how good he was, but there will be an announcement in the next couple of week that will show our intent to make sure we don’t miss him too much and that we’re solid in the nets next season.”
Meet and Greet this Sunday, January 28th
While the 14-game PDL season takes place over the summer months, the Dutch Lions are reaching out to the community early to make a connection. How early? Things kick off this Sunday, January 28th with a Meet & Greet at the House of Orange in Covington from 2pm to 4pm.
“We plan to announce our sponsors for the season, we also plan on bringing the first class of signings for 2018 in to meet the fans. . . . It’s going to be a great opportunity for the people who are into soccer in Cincinnati to come out meet the players, meet myself, and get to know what the club’s all about.”
So 2018 closes the book on the playing career of another FC Cincinnati “inaugural”. However, similar to Austin Berry, we won’t have to look far to see Nicholson still impacting soccer in Cincinnati (and Northern Kentucky) in a positive way.
Of course, we couldn’t let Paul go without taking the opportunity to ask him about FC Cincinnati’s upcoming 2018 season, and what he thinks about the new stable of talent that’s been recruited by Alan Koch.
“Seeing how exciting the signings have been and the level of player that they’ve gone after is incredible. If everything goes to plan, they’ve got a great chance to win the league. I don’t want to jinx them, but they’ve put together a great squad. It will be how Alan, Yoann, and those guys manage that squad throughout the season.”
Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC and FC Cincinnati. Make sure you get out to the House of Orange in Covington this Sunday to meet Paul and the CDLFC crew. It’s sure to be worth your while.