The Impact of Five Signings on the Senior Roster and Expansion Draft

After the announcement of five player signings from the 2018 USL roster, FC Cincinnati’s positional needs in the Expansion Draft become more clear.

Yesterday FC Cincinnati posted the following “Home for the Holidays” message across their social media platforms.

Today the meaning of these “Good tidings” was made clear to all. FC Cincinnati officially announced the MLS signings of the following five returning ULS players.

The timing of these roster moves was certainly strategic. They occurred a day after the league blackout period and the day before the Expansion Draft. The curious and highly debated direction of the team as they head into their inaugural MLS campaign is now clear.

So where does this leave FCC’s roster going into tomorrow’s draft? Below is an updated Senior Roster showing that 11 of the possible 20 spots are filled by returning players.

FC Cincinnati Senior Roster Matrix

Our recent roster building and preparing for the Expansion Draft article highlights positional needs. The updated matrix above shows obvious player gaps in the goalkeeper, central defender, fullback, central defensive midfield and winger positions. This chart may foretell the direction FC Cincinnati takes on Tuesday in New York.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press as we highlight eligible Expansion Draft players that may fit these needs. 

International Experience Lines FC Cincinnati’s Roster

As we wish Mike Lahoud and Pa Konate safe travels and good luck at AFCON, we highlight
ALL of the international experience on FCC’s roster.

Last Thursday, FCC announced that two players will take part in the African Cup of Nations qualifying matches scheduled for early September. Midfielder Mike Lahoud and defender Pa Konate will each travel abroad, and represent Sierra Leone and Guinea respectively. The international matches will be played on September 9th, and the pair will miss FCC’s next match against Louisville City at Slugger Field.

The 32nd edition of the African Cup of Nations will be held in June 2019 in Cameroon. Qualification for the tournament is now underway and extends over 5 match days held between June of 2017 to March of 2019. The upcoming September fixtures represent Matchday 2 of the qualification process. Lahoud’s Sierra Leone won its first match over Kenya. Guinea also won its opening match against the Ivory Coast, an African powerhouse. If these two players continue to be selected at the international level, they will play again in October and November of 2018, and March of 2019.

FC Cincinnati actually has three other players besides Lahoud and Konate with appearances at the full international level. Let’s take a look at the players who have grabbed the opportunity to play for their native land.

Dekel Keinan

Need an experienced international defender to captain your squad, and contribute goals in big games, like Saturday’s equalizer against Pittsburgh? Look no further than Dekel Keinan.

Keinan is the most decorated international player on FC Cincinnati’s roster. After extensive time with the Israeli national team at the U-21 and U-23 level, he received 27 total senior caps. The native of Rosh HaNikra was a regular in defense for Israel over a six year period from 2008 to 2013. He made notable contributions during the 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns. Israel, unfortunately, did not qualify for the World Cup finals in either cycle.

Justin Hoyte


Justin Hoyte played extensively for the England at the U-16 through the U-21 levels, making 58 appearances. The native of Leytonstone in the East London suburbs, he had ambitions to play for the senior national team. It wasn’t to be though, and in 2013, he made himself available to play for Trinidad and Tobago, where his father Les was born. He earned 18 caps for the Soca Warriors over a four year period and appeared in friendlies, the Gold Cup, and the early stages of the 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Emery Welshman

Emery Welshman was born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto. His parent are Guyanese though, and he is therefore eligible to play for their national team. He earned his first cap in 2015 and has made 5 appearances thereafter for the Golden Jaguars. He scored for Guyana in a friendly against Barbados, and also netted in a World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Experience Just Below the Senior Level

While the five referenced above advanced to appear for the senior national team, several others have represented their country at levels just below. Fatai Alashe made several appearances for the United States U-23 squad during qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He even got a call-up to the senior national team for the 2016 January camp under Jürgen Klinsmann. Unfortunately, an injury cut Alashe’s experience short, and he withdrew from the subsequent friendlies.

Fanendo Adi made two appearances with the U-23 Nigerian team in 2011. He was also called-up to the senior team for an African Cup of Nations qualifier in 2017, but didn’t get into the match. Sem De Wit made a single appearance with the Netherlands U-18 team in a match against Austria in 2012. Goalkeepers Spencer Richey and Even Newton also represented the United States at the U-17 level. Spencer Richey went with the U.S. to the 2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.

With the build-out of next year’s MLS roster, FC Cincinnati will add even more experienced international talent to the squad. They might even sign players in the mix for the U.S. Mens National Team. The prospects are exciting, but there’s a trade-off of course. The MLS and international calendars don’t always complement each other well. Alan Koch and Luke Sassano will will have to manage these players time away from the club, just like they have to now for Konate and Lahoud. Senior level internationals come with prestige, but they also come with commitments that must be considered when building a roster deep enough to compete successfully in America’s top flight.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Atlanta United 2 1-5 FC Cincinnati: Five-Alarm Fire in Georgia

Nazmi Albadawi grabs a brace and Fatai Alashe gets his first goal in the first five-goal game in FC Cincinnati history.

Atlanta 8.22_Match Recap.jpg
Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

Alan Koch and team extended their impressive unbeaten streak to fourteen with a 5-1 thrashing of Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday. The Orange & Blue are on a roll, and have won six of their last seven matches, and seven of 11 played on the road in 2018. They were without leading goalscorer and talismanic playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma for this match. The Argentine maestro was sidelined, serving a one game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Alan Koch made three changes to the side that beat Charleston convincingly four days earlier. The changes included a debut for Pa Konate, the Swedish left fullback recently acquired from Serie A side S.P.A.L. Another storyline heading into Wednesday’s match was the goalkeeping selection for the home team. FC Cincinnati’s former U.S. Open Cup hero, Mitch Hildebrandt, minded the nets for Atlanta United 2 against his former team, and had an evening to forget.

FC Cincinnati was the early aggressor and opened the scoring in the 18th minute of play. Emery Welshman held the ball up in the box, then laid it off to Corben Bone. The Plano, TX native fired through traffic, and his deflected shot looped over Hildebrandt and into goal. Nazmi Albadawi then doubled FCC’s fun just seven minutes later. Jimmy McLaughlin’s penetrating run attracted Atlanta’s attention on the right-hand side. He dished to Nazmi in the box, who took a touch and delivered a blistering strike into the corner. Hildebrandt had a decent look at the shot and might have done better. Alan Koch’s team comfortably managed the rest of the first half and went into the break two goals to the good.

Just eight minutes after the whistle that started the second half, FC Cincinnati thumped in another pair of goals. Fatai Alashe, recently loaned from the San Jose Earthquakes (and signed to an MLS contract), grabbed his first goal in Orange & Blue, cleaning up a rebound from a close-range Nazmi Albadawi shot. Albadawi then secured his brace by scoring again just two minutes after Alashe’s goal. The score was 4-0 to FC Cincinnati and the rout was on.

Atlanta United 2 got a consolation goal in the 65th minute. Fullback Shawn Nicklaw beat Spencer Richey with a thunderous long-range effort that found the top right corner. Not to be outdone, FC Cincinnati added a record-setting (most goals-scored in a FCC game) fifth when Emery Welshman struck with just three minutes remaining in regulation.

Final Score: Atlanta United 2 1-5 FC Cincinnati

A fire alarm from an apartment building near to Coolray Stadium rang throughout the end of the first half and most of the second, inspiring the title of this match recap.

Standings Update

The second-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds dropped points on Wednesday after Tampa Bay came from behind to secure a draw at Highmark Stadium. Louisville City FC now occupies third after a convincing 3-0 victory over the Charlotte Independence. FCC is now 9 points clear on top of the USL’s Eastern Conference.

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Highlight of the Match

Nazmi Albadawi scored two goals on a night where the big question was how would FCC’s offense perform without Emmanuel Ledesma.

Quote of the Match

Fatai Alashe had the following to say about getting his first goal for FC Cincinnati in just his second start for the organization.

“Whenever a game goes like this, you want to get yourself on the score sheet – especially early in my move here. It’s nice to get a goal. I told my mom before the game I’d score so I’m sure she’s pretty happy about that. It’s a good start and it’s positive so we’ll look to continue it.” 

Stat of the Match

FC Cincinnati had 19 total shot in this match, with 10 on target for a 52.6% shooting accuracy. That ties FC Cincinnati’s highest total of the season for shots on target, and is FCC’s second highest shot total for a game in 2018. Their high shot total and high shooting accuracy paid dividends and resulted in the first five-goal game in FC Cincinnati history.

Who Started?

FC Cincinnati made three changes to the starting eleven that featured last Saturday against Charleston. Pa Konate made his FC Cincinnati debut, replacing Blake Smith at left back. Captain Dekel Keinan returned to the starting eleven after missing two matches with a minor injury. Finally, Jimmy McLaughlin deputized for the suspended Emmanuel Ledesma.

Bone (55′ Cicerone)- Albadawi – McLaughlin
Alashe (71′ Lahoud) – Walker
Konate (61 Smith) – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati continues its road trip on Saturday with a visit to Al Lang Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tampa Bay has recently fallen from their place as one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams. However, FC Cincinnati has never won or even scored a goal against the Rowdies in Florida. They will look to change that narrative this weekend in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Atlanta 8.22_Match Recap

FC Cincinnati 4 – 1 Detroit City FC: The Quest for Cup Glory Begins

It took extra time, but the floodgates eventually opened and FC Cincinnati earned passage to the third round of the US Open Cup by defeating Detroit City FC on Wednesday.

Detroit 5.16_Match Recap
Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati launched its 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign with a decisive 4-1 victory over Detroit City FC in front of a sold-out crowd at Gettler Stadium on Wednesday. It took time but the floodgates eventually opened. The much anticipated second round match started with FC Cincinnati taking control early. The Orange & Blue had most of the possession and Detroit City FC team seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure.

Although that tactic produced chances for FC Cincinnati, none of them resulted in an opening goal. The situation changed in the 31st minute when DCFC collected an errant pass, countered and scored a goal through Shawn Lawson to put the visitors ahead.

That goal would be answered by FC Cincinnati less than four minutes later as Forrest Lasso headed a cross back toward goal for Emery Welshman. The Canadian headed into the net bringing the game back to level. The pace significantly picked up after the second goal but the 1-1 score carried into the halftime break.

The second half would see the starting eleven for both squads come out pushing the attack. Alan Koch made three substitutions after the break but no one could break though and the contest pushed into overtime.

Corben Bone scored the eventual winner just minutes into extra time by neatly finishing a perfect ball cut back from end line by Emery Welshman. The floodgates then opened and Welshman added two more extra time goals to claim a hat trick.

Bone’s game winning goal in the third minute of extra time.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 4 – 1 Detroit City FC

Key Events

28′ – YELLOW CARD – DCFC – Stephen Carroll
31′ – GOAL – DCFC – Shawn Lawson (assist Danny Deakin)
35′ – GOAL – CIN – Emery Welshman (assist Forrest Lasso)
83′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Russell Cicerone
89′ – YELLOW CARD – DCFC – Wilfred Williams
94′ – GOAL – CIN – Corben Bone (assist Emery Welshman)
99′ – GOAL – CIN – Emery Welshman (assist Russell Cicerone)
110′ – GOAL – CIN – Emery Welshman (assist Jimmy McLaughlin)

Match Notes

With tonight’s result FC Cincinnati earned its third straight second round win in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Emery Welshman earned the club’s first hat trick in any Open Cup match competition. He also assisted on Bone’s game winning goal.

The starting eleven included nine changes from last Saturday’s match against the Charlotte Independence. Paddy Barrett started at center back and wore the armband for the Orange & Blue. Nazmi Albadawi and Evan Newton both returned from injury and took places in the starting lineup.

Starting XI

Mclaughlin – Albadawi (Bone 67′) – Haber (Cicerone 60′)
Seymore – Lahoud
Laing (Smith 85′) – Lasso – Barrett (C) – Bahner

What’s Next?

It’s on to round three in pursuit of the Cup. FC Cincinnati travels north to face Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC next Wednesday, May 23rd, at Highmark Stadium. The Riverhounds advanced 2-1 versus Erie Commodores FC at Gannon University Field in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

But first FC Cincinnati returns to USL league play this Saturday at Nippert Stadium against USL newcomers North Carolina FC. The Orange and Blue will strive for three points at home to help solidify their spot at the top of the Eastern Conference table.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Detroit 5.16_Match Recap

Preseason Phase Two Begins – Tactical Work and Florida Friendlies

Preseason for FC Cincinnati continues. Images and audio from training covers what to expect in Florida, Heinemann’s release, and an interview with Emery Welshman.


Orange and Blue Press visited FC Cincinnati’s training session at Gettler Stadium on Thursday. It was the last practice before Alan Koch’s team heads for warmer Florida climates. There they will play the first of three preseason games in the Sunshine State next Tuesday, February 6th, against the New England Revolution.

Preseason Phase Two

Alan Koch spoke to us about his new cast of characters and what he’s trying to accomplish on the team’s upcoming preparatory trip. This week concluded the third week of preseason and  “Phase One” of the preseason training plan. The focus of the first phase was simply for players to get familiar with each other, begin to develop fitness, and to get touches on the ball.

“We’ve got a great group of guys. They are fun to be around. There’s a lot of energy. … What I like is that they bring the same enthusiasm every single day.”

Phase Two will obviously feature friendly matches against other professional teams and a chance for players to showcase their skills in a game setting. However, the trip to Florida will also be the beginning of a building process that implements the tactical gameplan for the 2018 season.

“Once we get down there we’ll really start to focus on some tactical work. We won’t do much tactical work before the New England game.  We’ll assess that (game) and see where we’re at. We’ll give them a platform before we start and build on it every single week that we’re down there.”

Koch also addressed the recent release of forward Tommy Heinemann.

“It’s a pretty simple one to answer at this stage. … He came in just like all of our players, and he didn’t get through the physical. Everyone else did … and they’re all training. … It’s not good for Tommy. It’s not good for us. It’s disappointing for everyone involved.”

More from Koch’s interview here.

Emery Welshman

Forward Emery Welshman, a Guyanese international and native of the Toronto suburbs, spent some time with us, discussing his first few weeks at FC Cincinnati and why this preseason is unlike any he’s had recently.

“This is my first full preseason in two years. When I was at Real Salt Lake I was injured. And then last year I came late to Puerto Rico’s (preseason training). So this one’s a little different than what I’ve been used to. … I want to build up on strength and fitness, and technique, and then finish off with match fitness and finishing.”

Welshman was drafted 16th overall by Toronto FC in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft after a standout college career at Siena and Oregon State University. Welshman sustained a hip injury in 2016 during preseason with Real Salt Lake that saw him miss essentially a whole calendar year while undergoing two surgeries.

Listen to more of Welshman’s interview here.

Training Images Courtesy of Ryan Meyer

Training Notes

There’s only so much you can take away from these early training sessions. It’s going to be several weeks until we can draw many conclusions about the team and its prospects for the season, but here are a few takeaways from what we saw on Thursday.

Although I didn’t get the chance to interview him, Nazmi Albadawi seems as affable in person as he presents himself on social media. After training, he walked past those observing (mostly media), flashed a bright smile, and gave us a genuine “Hi guys!” For the record, that’s not normal. The players are always generous with their time when asked but usually look to move quickly past potential interviewers and get on with their busy day.  I get it—I’d do the same thing—but Naz looks the part of a people person.

‘Manu Ledesma does indeed like to shoot from range and bagged a gorgeous left-footed curler from 20+ yards in the 1/3-field game-play portion of Thursday’s session.

There’s a lot of new midfield talent, but veterans Kenney Walker and Corben Bone look right there with them in terms of quality. That shouldn’t be a surprise, and they should still make a strong case for First XI selection this season.

Justin Hoyte looks sharp and his technical ability in tight spaces stands out in small-sided drills. In addition, he blasted at picture-perfect goal from about 20 yards that was about as upper 90 as you can get.

One player that stood out Thursday that we haven’t seen or talked about much is Daniel Haber. He has great close control and tidy passing, and he assisted Naz on a goal after a fine piece of clever dribbling. He’s definitely one to watch in preseason as he competes for a starting spot in a very competitive attacking lineup.

Daniel Haber

There are still three trialists in training with the regular team. All are believed to be products of local universities.

Jimmy McLaughlin and Josu are on the road to recovery. They jogged at a reserved pace and did other calisthenics (do people still say that?) for the duration of the practice.

Coach Koch referenced three games to be played while in Florida. The third IMG match was announced Friday and will be played against the Chicago Fire reserves on Wednesday 2/14.

We finally get to see the 2018 edition of the Orange and Blue in action next Tuesday in a matinee against MLS competition. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of that match against the New England Revolution.