Rise Together Book Signing

FC Cincinnati closed out the week with a training session at UC. Season ticket holders were invited to watch and then participate in a book signing event.

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Coach John Harkes greets the fans that came out for the Rise Together book signing.

FC Cincinnati closed out this week with another preseason training session at Sheakley Athletics Center on Saturday. Season ticket holders were invited to watch the last half-hour of practice and then participate in a book signing event. FC Cincinnati recently released Rise Together: Celebrating FC Cincinnati’s Inaugural Season which documents last year’s historic campaign.

You can get a copy of the book by visiting the FC Cincinnati website here. Stay tuned to FC Cincinnati for information on additional book signing events. There will be one specifically for those who preordered the book. There will also be a public book signing at Joseph Beth in Hyde Park on Monday, February 13, from 5:00-7:30 p.m.

Saturday Practice

Photos courtesy of JES Photography/Joe Schmuck.

Book Signing

FC Cincinnati plays the first of six preseason games against OKC Energy on February 19th in Bradenton, Florida. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue press for more coverage and color commentary of FC Cincinnati’s preseason.

USL D2 Sanctioning Matters to the Average FC Cincinnati Fan

The US Soccer Federation elevated USL to division two status along side the NASL. The decision is significant for the USL, FC Cincinnati, AND the average fan.

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As the dust settles on US Soccer’s decision to elevate USL from division three to division two status, the average FC Cincinnati supporter is asking “why should I care?”

When the season kicks off in March, it’s true that not much will look different (except for the recently widened Nippert field…nice!). FCC will play in USL, a lower tier of American soccer. NASL remains an independent league at the same division two level, so there will be no consolidation of leagues. Because of that, it’s likely that the USL will be structured the same with an Eastern and Western Conference. A few teams have come, a few have gone, but the names on the opposite side of the scoreboard will largely look the same. Not much different right?

From the USL’s perspective and the club’s perspective, this decision is clearly significant. The decision is a recognition by US Soccer of the success of the USL’s business and recent aggressive expansion. It’s a validation of their business model and a league structure that combines independent clubs, like FC Cincinnati, with MLS2 teams and affiliates. The elevated division status will make it easier for USL clubs to strike better advertising, sponsorship, TV, and radio deals. D2 status should equal increased revenue.

Although it means much more to many of its supporters, professional soccer is by definition a business. If FC Cincinnati and other USL clubs can capitalize financially on their elevated status and increase revenue, they will have more money to invest in the club, spend on players, improve training facilities, develop academy programs, build/improve stadiums, etc. Increased revenue, assuming that it is balanced with effective cost management, will also produce better year end statements validating USL clubs as a businesses. Owners make money, justifying their initial investment, clubs are worth more and can better attract additional investment if necessary. Soccer grows, from a business perspective.

So no, we won’t see a big difference at this year’s home opener at Nippert, but division two status should impact the product on display and the financial health of the club in the long term. How much more revenue will there be at division two than division three? That’s debatable.

Disagree? Good, it’s all about dialogue. Tell us why in the comments section.

It’s important to note that US Soccer’s decision is provisional. USL has work to do to secure this status going forward. It should also be mentioned that both USL and NASL have had their fair share of up and downs. The lower divisions of American soccer continue to be very dynamic, and sometimes not in a good way. Good business needs to continue and supporters need to support, or a lot can change very quickly.

Sympathy for NASL Supporters

It’s likely that very few NASL supporters want sympathy from FC Cincinnati fans, but they deserve it. US Soccer’s decision gives the NASL a life line, but a lot has to be done to restore that league to full health. Many dedicated fans in those cities are looking on with uncertainty as their club’s future hangs in the balance. These supporters are the fabric of American soccer culture and are the same as you and me in everything but geography.

Well all that crap was quite serious right, how about something lighter?

The best part of this mess was Friday’s social media meltdown as reporters, supporters, and the clubs themselves waited well into the evening for the repeatedly delayed decision. The announcement was expected in the afternoon but didn’t come until 9:10pm Eastern.

Fortunately, the soccer community entertained each other with four jokes on repeat for about six hours. Here’s a statistically accurate breakdown of that humor.

59% Comparing US Soccer’s decision making process to a soccer game going to penalty kicks

22% Comparing US Soccer’s decision making process to  a papal election ceremony (white smoke, etc.)

11% A Russian hacking attack has the meeting in disarray. Systems down!

6% Jill Stein requested a recount

2% Sunil Gulati dick jokes

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more color leading up to the 2017 season. With this decision out of the way, a USL season schedule should be forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

FC Cincinnati Signs Winger Dacres from Rival

FC Cincinnati Signs Winger Dacres from Rival: Read more about FC Cincinnati’s newest player, a former rival who’s signing was announced on Thursday morning.

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Rosedale, New York, native Kadeem Dacres spent last season terrorizing USL fullbacks with Louisville City FC. In 2017, he’ll suit up for the Orange and Blue as a key part of the second year club’s attack. On Thursday morning, FC Cincinnati announced Dacres’ signing as well as the re-signing of midfielder Eric Stevenson.

Read the FC Cincinnati press release

Dacres will arrive in Cincinnati following a two goal, two assist regular season with rival Louisville City. The 25 year old scored the decisive goal in Louisville City’s 2016 playoff victory against the Charleston Battery, sending LCFC to the Eastern Conference finals (see 2 minute mark).

Although his 2016 numbers aren’t gaudy, he stood out in the three games he played against FC Cincinnati. He is an electric attacker with pace, dribbling skills, and the ability to create and score goals.

The MLS site elaborates on his attributes as a player: “He’s tough. Good body: Athletic … Hard player. You knew he was going to bring it with everything he had. … Good wide left, tricky, fast, strong, tough. Good feet.” [MLS Soccer]

Dacres will likely take up position on the wing, opposite of Jimmy McLaughlin. That tandem of wingers, along with a marquee striker to replace Sean Okoli, should provide a fearsome strike force for the 2017 campaign. The signing of Dacres could mean that Andrew Wiedeman continues to plays more centrally in attack as he did toward the end of last season. The final shape of the 2017 offense clearly depends on what additional signings FC Cincinnati makes.

Dacres was drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2014 but not signed. He’s made 73 USL appearances with Arizona United (now Phoenix Rising) and Louisville City since then.

The signing is also interesting in the context of the Dirty River Derby. FC Cincinnati’s Kentucky rival has now lost both Chandler Hoffman and Dacres, two key components of their potent 2016 offense. There’s clearly time left before the start of the season, but Louisville City’s attack looks considerably diminished at the moment.

Looking for more video of the man in action?  His 2015 season highlights are available here.

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Soccer Don Lands at Lunken

Soccer Don Lands at Lunken: MLS Commissioner Don Garber arrives in the Queen City to speak with FC Cincinnati about the city’s bid for MLS expansion.

 

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At nine o’clock on Tuesday morning Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber landed at Cincinnati’s Lunken airport and was greeted by a raucous crowd of FC Cincinnati supporters and owner Carl Lindner III.

The FC Cincinnati and MLS brass paused briefly to greet and take photos with the crowd. The supporters were in good voice despite being fueled only by early morning coffee and donuts, rather than their usual pregame libations.

The soccer executives then departed for downtown Cincinnati and a series of meetings and events that are scheduled throughout the day. The festivities will culminate in a public town hall at the Woodward Theatre in OTR at 4pm. Find the full schedule of events on FC Cincinnati’s website.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more updates on Commissioner Garber’s visit to Cincinnati. #MLS2CINCY

FC Cincinnati Dispatches Playoff Hopeful Wilmington

FC Cincinnati made progress toward improving their playoff seeding with a victory over the Wilmington Hammerheads on Sunday.

Photo courtesy Wilmington Hammerheads FC

FC Cincinnati made progress toward improving their playoff seeding with a 2-0 victory over the Wilmington Hammerheads on Sunday. Sean “Ugo” Okoli scored the first goal in the 30th minute when Wilmington goalkeeper John Smits spilled a difficult cross from his left side. Okoli knocked the ball into an open net from close range, tallying his 15th of the season (tied for 1st in USL). Andrew Wiedeman added another for the Orange and Blue in the 64th with a great individual effort. He evaded a defender and the keeper’s challenge to find space behind and slot the ball home from the left side. Both goals featured noteworthy skill from FC Cincinnati but were aided by less than perfect goalkeeping by their opponent. The game was disjointed at times, with possession changing frequently, and suffered from play under hot and humid conditions in the Carolina sun.

For blow-by-blow details of the game’s event, see the following sources.

FC Cincinnati Official
USL
Cincinnati Soccer Talk
Enquirer
Wilmington

Team captain Austin Berry left the match with an injury after 52 minutes. FC Cincinnati continues their road trip on Wednesday and continues their search for maximum points when they face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for coverage of this week’s action.

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): Check out the feature article “John Harkes Looking Forward” on the Last Word on Soccer website.

Casey Townsend Signed to Bolster FC Cincinnati’s Forward Ranks

FC Cincinnati signs striker from Wilmington Hammerheads in the wake of Omar Cummings’ injury.

FC Cincinnati announced the signing of striker Casey Townsend from Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Thursday afternoon.

The 27 year old Traverse City, Michigan native played collegiately at the University of Maryland and was selected 5th overall in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He made 28 MLS appearances for Chivas USA and DC United before spending time with 4 different NASL / USL clubs. Townsend joined the Wilmington Hammerheads just this year and scored 2 goals and 1 assist in 12 appearances with the club.

Photos Courtesy of Wilmington Hammerheads FC

The move was made by FC Cincinnati in the wake of a serious knee injury to standout forward Omar Cummings on August 24th. See the article below for more information.

Cummings Out for “Several Weeks”, Could Miss Playoffs

FCC General Manager Jeff Berding made the following comments regarding the transfer:

“As we look towards the final four games of the regular season and the playoffs, we wanted to ensure we had a full roster available to us and Casey will give the club some depth. He has been with some good clubs and will be a great option to have in the attacking third.” [1]

As part of the transfer agreement, Townsend will not be able to play against Wilmington in the upcoming match in North Carolina on Sunday September 11th. Mr. Townsend looks mighty good in Orange and Blue and will be a welcome enhancement to FC Cincinnati’s attacking options.

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FC Cincinnati Rights the Ship, Targets Home Playoff Games

A deeper look at FC Cincinnati’s victory over Saint Louis FC and what it means for their home playoff prospects.

FC Cincinnati earned a hard fought but well deserved victory over Saint Louis FC at Nippert Stadium on Monday afternoon. For play-by-play details of the games’ events, see the articles featured in our news post from Monday. This article intends to delve deeper into the cookie jar and see what treats are hidden underneath the top layer.

Photos

 

Four Numbers 

The following four numbers help to tell the tale of how this match unfolded.

89 – The temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff. After a week of lovely weather in the true Queen City (as evidenced by the Queen City Cup), Monday’s match against Saint Louis FC was played under scorching conditions at Nippert Stadium. The official air temperature may have been 89 degrees but it was much hotter on Nippert’s field turf surface. While on the field taking match photos, my iPhone literally stopped working because it was too hotFans on the sunny East side of the stadium were leaving their seats during the match and retreating into the upper shade to find respite from the swelter. FC Cincinnati continues to pack the house this season despite a notable lack of support from Mother Nature. 17,145 showed up. Kudos Cincinnati.

2 – The number of key starters that Saint Louis FC was missing due to international call-ups. Leading goalscorer Irvin Herrera and starting goalkeeper Ryan Thompson were both absent from this match, representing El Salvador and Jamaica respectively. This was a quality win for FC Cincinnati but it’s important to understand the diminished strength of the opponent coming into the match.

11 – The jersey number of Álvaro Anton Ripoll, who had an impactful performance in Monday’s victory. Ripoll has started the last 2 matches in the place of injured Omar Cummings, playing on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s front three. The 22 year old native of Madrid, Spain was involved in everything the Orange and Blue did offensively and played with a passion that will soon make him a fan favorite.

9 – STAT CORRECTED: The average number of shots taken by FC Cincinnati in their 3 games against the Charlotte Independence, NY Red Bulls II, and Rochester Rhinos. FC Cincinnati had 16 total shots in Monday’s game against Saint Louis FC, emphasizing their improved offensive productivity. Of those 16, only 4 shots were on goal though (including the 2 actual goals). The offensive effort was much better overall, but FC Cincinnati will need to be more ruthless in front of goal come playoff time.

Quotable [Press Conference]

John Harkes:

“We created so many chances today. In the first half that was some of the best soccer I’ve seen all year.”

“The fan base actually pushed us on today. It’s unlike anything else in the league. It doesn’t matter about the quantity but about the quality of the fans. It drives the guys. It is fantastic. It really is.”

Ugo Okoli:

“To be honest after the first half that I had, I knew I was gonna get one.” (You’ve got to love that striker’s confidence)

Álvaro Ripoll:

“It felt amazing to play in front of this crowd. I was worried about my fitness, but I could have played 3 games in front of this crowd.”  (I highly recommend that you watch Ripoll in the press conference, the genuine excitement in his eyes to be starting and performing comes through in an amazing way).

Playoff Picture

FC Cincinnati has reclaimed their 3rd place position in the Eastern Conference after this result. With four games left in the season, earning the right to play at Nippert in the postseason must be the focus for the Orange and Blue.

The bad news is that last week’s poor results put a big dent in FCC’s chances of catching the top two. Overtaking second place Louisville City FC is possible, but it will take a perfect season’s end and some help.

The good news is that all of the remaining opponents are in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, so FCC has a good opportunity to maximize points. They will have to contend with pressure from the chasing pack though. There are four teams just behind FC Cincinnati poised to overtake them if they slip up. Negative results in the final stanza of the season could leave the Orange and Blue seeded fifth through eighth, which would mean no home playoff game.

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Charlotte Independence 3 – FC Cincinnati 2 – Recap Roundup

FC Cincinnati was dealt a heartbreaking road loss at the hands of the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday evening.

Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Independence

FC Cincinnati was dealt a heartbreaking road loss at the hands of the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday evening. The game was tied at 2-2 in the 85th minute when a Charlotte free kick delivered by Jorge Herrera was redirected into the Orange and Blue’s own net by FC Cincinnati defender Paul Nicholson. Adding insult to injury, the Independence were playing with only 10 men at the time the goal was scored. Charlotte defender Bilal Duckett had been sent off earlier in the second half for a second yellow card offense. Andrew Wiedeman and Sean Okoli scored the two goals for FC Cincinnati. Both FCC goals came as equalizers after Charlotte had taken the lead.

For play-by-play details of the game’s events, turn your attention to the following sources:
FC Cincinnati Official
USL
Cincinnati Soccer Talk
Enquirer
Charlotte Post

Despite the loss, FC Cincinnati claimed the Queen City Cup on away goals. The trophy was awarded to the team with the best results over the two legs played between FC Cincinnati and Charlotte this season. FC Cincinnati defeated the Independence by a score of 2-1 at Nippert on April 9th. The cup win seems like a small consolation for FC Cincinnati after losing two matches in a row for the first time in the club’s short history. Harkes’ men will return home to Nippert on Monday for a Labor Day fixture against the Western Conference’s Saint Louis FC. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis, stats and color commentary on Wednesday’s result.