Training Week 1 – Top Quotes & Hagglund’s First Session

Quotes, images, and audio from FC Cincinnati’s first week of training at Sheakley Athletics Center, including Nick Hagglund’s first session and interview.

Image: Ryan Meyer

FC Cincinnati’s first week of training concluded with local product Nick Hagglund joining the squad. The Orange & Blue’s latest defensive signing participated in practice on Friday and addressed the local media after the session. He and the team will now head to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for one of two trips south this preseason.

After four days of preparation in the Sunshine State, Alan Koch’s men will face the Montreal Impact, Colorado Rapids, and DC United over a span of nine days starting January 30th. Here is our collection of quotes, images, and audio from FC Cincinnati’s first week of training.

Nick Hagglund

Nick Hagglund on the opportunity to come back to Cincinnati.

“It was first on the top of my list and when the opportunity came, I knew I wanted to be here and have an opportunity to be here from the beginning and be a part of the growth of this team in the coming years.”

Hagglund on telling his parents after learning the news that he was returning to Cincinnati.

“They were just ecstatic. My Mom couldn’t stop smiling and my Dad was just giddy. My sister went overseas and came back to Cincinnati. I went to Canada and now I’m here. So for all of us to be back is really special.”

Full interview below.

Fanendo Adi

Adi on what FC Cincinnati fans should expect from defender Alvas Powell, who was acquired in December. Powell and Adi played together in Portland for four seasons.

“He’s a great player. We know how fast he is and how he can get forwards and backwards. We have to use him to the best of his abilities. He has a lot to add to the team, to help us on the back line and to help us attack. For me personally, he’s a guy that can give me a lot of goals, so I’m looking forward to his service. But he’s going to be very helpful to the team.”

Full interview below.

Leo Bertone

Leo Bertone on what he tries to focus on during preseason.

“I try to get confidence and take responsibility, and get into (my) role as fast as possible. . . more (focus on) mentally than in terms of playing style. “

Leo on the transition from living in Europe to Cincinnati.

It was easy really because in Switzerland the weather is a little bit like this, and the people are open and they give a warm welcome, which makes it easy to start.

Full interview below.

Images: First Day of MLS Training for FC Cincinnati

Greg Garza

Garza is currently on a “day-to-day” timeline for return from a quadriceps strain. Greg commented on the injury sustained while with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“It was something very minor. I sat down with Greg Berhalter and George Chiampas, the national team doctor. We decided that it would probably be better (for me) to come to the new club . . . Especially for my career and starting this new project with Cincinnati, it was better to start here instead of force something that could lead to something worse.

Full interview below.

Alan Koch

On whether last year’s approach to building a team is a blueprint for success this season.

“Because we had so much change, last year was a great learning experience for us. But doing it in the first tier is completely different. The goal is the same but now we are playing at a much higher level . . .We go into the season clearly as underdogs this year BUT, internally we have a lot of confidence in this group. We just need the time, . . I’m sure we’ll go through some difficult times to start the season, but we’ll stay true to the process. I feel confident that eventually we’ll get where we need to get.”

Full interview below.

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

TRADE: Three Things Hometown Hagglund Brings to FC Cincinnati

Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund makes his way back to the Queen City from Toronto FC, in a move speculated about since FC Cincinnati’s moved to MLS.

Photo Credit: Toronto FC

Age: 26
Position: Defender – Center Back
From: Cincinnati, OH (domestic player)
Former team: Toronto FC
Value: $800K
Deal: Traded to FC Cincinnati for $150K in GAM in 2019, $100K in TAM in 2020, and the #1 allocation ranking. FCC also receives the No. 24 allocation ranking from Toronto FC. Additional terms apply if the #1 allocation ranking or Hagglund are traded thereafter.
Tranfermarkt Profile

Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund makes his way back to the Queen City from Toronto FC in a move that had been speculated about since FC Cincinnati’s MLS reality was confirmed.

Hagglund grew up in West Chester and featured for Cincinnati United Premier (CUP) and Lakota West during his youth career. The Xavier University standout was drafted 10th overall by Toronto FC in 2014 and has been with that club until now. He is a five-year MLS league veteran with 88 league appearances to his name.

Followers of Cincinnati soccer that don’t know Hagglund from CUP, Lakota West, Xavier, or Toronto FC might remember him from 2016. Hagglund played 90 minutes for TFCII when that they first met FC Cincinnati in USL play. Omar Cummings scored a late winner in that match to send FC Cincinnati home with three points.

It’s worth noting that the price FC Cincinnati paid for Hagglund has been questioned by some national soccer pundits. $250K in allocation money and the #1 allocation spot is a hefty fee. However, the hometown defender comes with benefits that made Sassano, Koch, and Berding believe he was worth the price. Time will tell whether it was a wise investment.

Three Things Nick Hagglund Brings to FC Cincinnati

Home Cooking

This is the obvious one. Hagglund is one of our own and because of that, no one needs to explain to him how to order Cincinnati chili. He understands “Eastside” versus “Westside”, and he expects people that he hasn’t met before to ask him which high school he went to.

FC Cincinnati fans have witnessed the departure of several Cincinnati and Ohio products that graced the roster in seasons past. Austin Berry, Matt Bahner, Luke Spencer, Michael Millay, Eric Stevenson, and Kenney Walker all gave FCC a distinctly local flair during its formative years. Even adopted sons like UC alum Omar Cummings helped forged a bond between the fans and the club.

The current roster has quite a different look, and that’s to be expected with a move to MLS. However, it’s a big coup for the front office to acquire a capable local product for FC Cincinnati’s first season in the highest level of American soccer.

MLS-Tested Defender

While he has not been a guaranteed starter in Toronto, Hagglund can boast 67 career MLS starts and 10 additional appearances in MLS Cup playoff matches. He made an impressive 23 starts as a rookie for TFC, but has shared time in the starting eleven in recent years.

Regardless, his time in the league adds some needed “know-how” to the central defense. Kendall Waston is obviously loaded with experience, but behind him, positional center backs Forrest Lasso and Hassan Ndam only have a combined 2 MLS appearances between them. Some speculate that experienced fullback Mathieu Deplagne may also play a role at center back, but that remains to be seen.

Hagglund’s experience includes some big MLS moments as well. In one of his finest memories north of the border, he headed home this dramatic playoff goal that helped Toronto FC advance to the 2016 MLS Cup final.

Proven Winner

Jeff Berding has said on multiple occasions during this MLS roster build that FC Cincinnati is looking to bring “winners” into the team. Hagglund can certainly claim to be one. He won the Eastern Conference Championship with Toronto FC in both 2016 and 2017, and he lifted MLS Cup with the Reds just over a year ago. Coach Koch spoke about the value of bringing in Hagglund:

“I think it’s amazing to have a guy from Cincinnati who’s gone and had success in this league. To bring him home is something that we should all take pride in. He gets an amazing opportunity in that he’s gone and had success in the league”

-Alan Koch

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