Reaction to Upcoming MLS Expansion Announcement

Image: JES Photography
On Thursday, FC Cincinnati fans finally. . .and I mean finally, got news of Don Garber’s intention to visit the Queen City for an announcement regarding the team’s bid for MLS expansion. It’s been a long road and we, at Orange & Blue Press, have written our fair share about expansion over the past two years. I’ve personally been vocal about blocking out the drama surrounding the circus, in favor of focusing on the actual soccer being played. I penned a few words summarizing my reaction to the news, assuming Tuesday’s announcement is the expected invitation to join Major League Soccer.

Yesterday’s long-awaited news leaves me with a feeling of joy, elation, relief, and optimism quickly followed by a stirring panic…holy sh*t, there’s a LOT to do between now and January of 2019 when a potential MLS preseason camp would start.

And I don’t actually have to do anything besides observe, enjoy it all, and write a few words on this blog. Nevertheless, the club has a huge task ahead and a lot of pieces to put in place in nine months to be MLS ready.

But right now is not the time for those worries. It’s time to take a step back, truly pause and savor the moment because it’s historic and important for this city. It’s time to appreciate the fact that we are able to be around the club, observing and supporting, during this formative time.

Deserved Accolades

A massive thank you and congratulations are in order for Jeff Berding, the ownership group, and the tireless staff at FC Cincinnati. Mr. Berding is still villainized by some for his involvement in the Paul Brown Stadium deal however many years ago. But man, am I glad he was in charge of this one. A unique skill set was needed and he brought that to accomplish so much with this franchise in just under three years.

He and his staff leveraged his sales executive experience from the Bengals and combined it with the political skills he garnered on city council. He mixed these two like peanut butter and chocolate for a delicious recipe that resulted in bringing this team to the highest level of American soccer. Let’s not forget that it takes money and influence too, lots and lots of it. Thank you Carl Lindner III and the entire ownership group for that.

Also, congratulations and thank you to all those involved in the Build It Here effort and anyone who got involved. You battled against some long odds to help make a stadium location in the urban core a reality.

The Importance of an MLS Franchise

The reason why this opportunity is important, and the thing I am most thankful for, is that this news should ensure the sustainability of professional soccer in the Queen City for some time to come. We’ve had our fair share of false starts with pro soccer here in the Queen City. And this news certainly doesn’t guarantee top level soccer here forever. Only enduring support, committed local owners, ambitious but responsible club management, and the financial growth and success of soccer in our country can do that.

The USL has been a great partner since 2015 and its growth is impressive. I hope that growth continues and that a strong and healthy pyramid develops in the lower leagues, maybe even one that can support promotion and relegation. But right now, the lower leagues are still volatile, and the long-term profits that FCC’s investors are understandably seeking will likely exist only in the top flight. Right now, there aren’t guaranteed profits even at that level. This is a long-term high stakes play for the team’s investors. Playing in the top league in our country helps ensure that continued investment.

If you would, also take a moment during this time to think about our soccer-loving brethren in Columbus, who are still fighting for their team. I very much hope that this news does not come at the expense of our rival to the north, who started their journey over 20 years ago.

Finally, I can’t wait to enjoy this with our soccer-loving city…the next week is gonna be great. A very sincere and humble thank you to everyone who has followed along with Orange & Blue Press during the past two plus years. We appreciate every reader and hope to bring you continued high-quality soccer and statistics-rich coverage of the team in 2019 and beyond.

One thought

  1. A little something from myself, as well:

    As a fan, I can understand the feeling of being gung-ho for your team in times of success and apathetic in times of failure. That has been much of my life as a New England Revolution fan who has voluntarily displaced himself to become a Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky resident. I’ve seen the highs (the MLS Cup trips, the U.S. Open Cup win, the tailgate parties in the parking lot at Gillette Stadium), but I’ve also seen the lows (declining attendance numbers, constant push-back in soccer-specific stadium talks, the ownership group’s complacency with the status quo). These are constants in any sport, especially in American soccer circles.

    There are going to be pitfalls and frustrations, doubters and back-stabbers, foes and enemies. However, there are also going to be new friendships, new connections, new causes, and new reasons to believe in your region. There are people who don’t want to understand soccer, and that’s fine. There are people who want focus on other issues, and that’s fine too. We can all get along and help each other’s causes. That’s what can make a city and its outskirts strong, and I believe a healthy sports scene can help that.

    There is also a need to reflect. What is happening in Columbus can happen here. Franchises can be made just as quickly as they can be lost. What we need to do now is unite behind our teams and preach solidarity. Develop that fan base in a positive manner. Be humble and confident in victory and defeat. Be robust when it comes to seeing positive change in your team when things are trending in the wrong direction. Be polite to your fellow fans, whether they are friends, foes, or otherwise.

    We are fortunate that Tuesday marks a new day for FCC. Let’s make the most of it.

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