FC Cincinnati held a press conference on Monday to officially introduce their shiny new MLS signings. Midfielder Fatai Alashe and striker Fanendo Adi joined the Orange & Blue as the team’s first two top-division acquisitions. Both will join in short order and play the rest of the 2018 USL season with the club.
For our feature article on Fanendo Adi’s transfer, look here.
What Fanendo Adi Brings to FC Cincinnati
Fatai Alashe joins as a 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. Facing a similar situation to Adi, Alashe saw less playing time when the Earthquakes changed coaches. He then seized the opportunity to join FC Cincinnati’s upstart MLS project. Alashe is on loan from the Quakes through the end of the 2018 season, but FCC has obtained his rights for 2019 in exchange for $60,000 in TAM and $75,000 in GAM.
What Fatai Alashe Brings to FC Cincinnati
Young but MLS Tested
At 24 years old, Alashe is now one of the youngest players on FC Cincinnati’s roster. Only Sem De Wit is younger. However, Alashe has amassed a fair bit of MLS experience despite being on the early side of his career. He has three and a half years in the league and was a fixture in Dom Kinnear’s Earthquakes in 2015 and 2016. He has accumulated 69 MLS starts and 89 total appearances.
Alan Koch had the following to say about Alashe joining FC Cincinnati:
“Fatai is a player who brings a wealth of MLS experience at a young age. He’s shown his quality over the last few seasons in MLS, and we envision him contributing to our team both short and long term.”
This 2017 MLS feature “The Prospect” highlights his potential.
All-American Development Product
One interesting aspect of Alashe’s development is the path he’s taken to FC Cincinnati. He’s an unmistakably all-American soccer product. The Michigan native has traversed all of the U.S. soccer stops including the Development Academy (DA), NCAA, PDL, U.S. U-23 squad, USL, and of course MLS.
He played elite youth soccer at the Vardar Academy in Michigan where his U17/U18 team won the U.S. Development Academy national championship in 2010. Alashe went on to Michigan State University where he captained the team his senior year. He also started every match in 2014 and took the Spartans to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
While in college he played PDL soccer with Reading United in 2013 and the Portland TImbers U23s the following year. In January of 2015 he was drafted by San Jose and began his MLS journey, immediately featuring in the starting roster. He also made a brief stop in the USL in 2017 on two separate loans stints at Reno 1868, San Jose’s affiliate.
Alashe earned his soccer stripes in the American system, and his success underlines the importance of leagues like the PDL that provide players opportunities to prepare for the professional game.
Alashe said of his time in the PDL:
“I would say the PDL helped me a lot in order to reach my dream of playing professionally. I was exposed to high-level soccer playing with some of the best players in the country on every PDL team I played with. My time spent at both Reading United and Portland Timbers U23 were huge parts of my development as a player.”
Alashe joins FC Cincinnati in the most crowded position on the current roster, central midfield. He’s a rangy holding midfielder with a tireless engine. He’s known for being “very physical” and having “tremendous athletic attributes.” [MLS]
After the MLS Draft, Top Drawer Soccer described Alashe as being a “disruptive force in the center of the field that can cover a lot of ground.”
In a “24 Players Under 24” piece assembled by MLS, one technical staffer described Alashe’s playing style. “He chews up ground. He’s an uber-athlete. He’s one of those guys that if you tacked a paintbrush to his pants, he’d paint the whole field.”
Fatai should be a fine complement to technical and possession-oriented midfielders like Richie Ryan and Corben Bone. Alashe can provide pace, physicality, and ball-winning ability, all while protecting the back four and continuing to grow other aspects of his game.
The following piece from 2017 also gives you some insights into Alashe’s interests, personality, and favorite Premier League team.
With two signings in the door, the MLS transfer business is officially underway. However, some more news might be right around the corner. Luke Sassano suggested that he is “looking to add maybe one more piece” before the MLS secondary transfer window closes on August 8th.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 USL season and future MLS transactions.