On Sunday afternoon, ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman reported that FC Cincinnati will imminently announce the signing of striker Fanendo Adi and midfielder Fatai Alashe as the club’s first two MLS signings.
Update: The transfer of both Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe was officially announced by FC Cincinnati on Monday July 30th. Adi’s rights were exchanged for $450,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and $400,000 in MLS Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). Portland can also receive up to $100,000 in future TAM for Adi’s on-field performance, as well as future transfer value through the 2020 summer transfer window.
Adi, a 27 year-old Nigerian forward currently with the Portland Timbers, is a Designated Player, and would presumably have the same designation for FC Cincinnati. Following the departure of coach Caleb Porter at the end of 2017, Adi wasn’t getting the starts he’s seen the past few years in Portland. He reportedly requested a trade earlier in July.
Fatai Alashe is 24 year-old defensive midfielder and a U.S. U-23 International. He’s been with the Quakes since 2015 when he was the fourth overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Similar to Adi, Alashe fell out of favor when the Earthquakes changed coaches and has made only two starts this season. He now appears to be on the move to the Queen City.
As an added benefit, both Adi and Alashe will reportedly play the rest of the 2018 USL season with the club.
FC Cincinnati is holding a noon press conference on Monday to officially introduce two MLS signings. Assuming things play-out as Twellman advertised, here are some thoughts about what Adi will bring to FC Cincinnati as a player.
What Fanendo Adi Brings to FC Cincinnati
A Mobile Power Center Forward
If you’re looking for a physical presence and clinical finishing ability, Fanendo Adi is the striker for you. He’s 6’4” tall, but in addition to his size and physicality, he’s known for his mobility, the quality and timing of his runs, dribbling ability, and having a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Here is his match-winning goal Saturday evening versus the Houston Dynamo.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 29, 2018
He’s been described as “one of the best natural finishers in the league” and well-respected Crew and Sounders center back Chad Marshall said the following about him.
“Even as a big guy, he’s not afraid to hit you with a move and create space for himself. He’s a complete player and he’s a handful.” [Four Four Two]
Proven MLS Credentials
The Lagos, Nigeria native netted 54 regular season goals in 126 regular season MLS appearances with Portland. He ranks second in all time goals scored for the Timbers, behind only Diego Valeri. He holds the Timbers club record with 13 career braces, including one in his first Portland appearance.
Adi hit double-digit goals for three consecutive seasons prior to 2018, and helped the Timbers claim the 2015 MLS Cup, starting every playoff match. He netted two goals in that playoff run.
Ace Card in FCC’s USL Campaign
The Orange & Blue already boast one of the most powerful offenses in the USL. They have the second most total goals, the best goal difference in the Eastern Confernce, and are tied for first in conversion rate. Both Danni König and Emmanuel Ledesma are in the top 10 for goals scored, and now they add a proven MLS-caliber striker in Adi.
If FCC wasn’t the favorite for the USL Cup already, and arguably Real Monarchs and Pittsburgh have had great seasons too, they are certainly the favorites now.
The following MLS Insider feature on Adi from 2017 provides some good insights into the player.
Fits the FCC Mold
Not only is Adi a proven #9 that will immediately add DP-level MLS talent to FCC’s roster, he fits the character type that Alan Koch has pursued over the past year. A fan favorite, Portland provided Adi with a home tribute Saturday evening against the Houston Dynamo. Adi entered the match as a substitute in the 75th minute and went on to score the winning goal in the 80th minute. The admiration from his fellow teammates, the Timbers Army, and the Portland fans was palpable in his send off.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) July 29, 2018
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more on Fatai Alashe and coverage of the announcement of FC Cincinnati’s first two MLS player signings.