FC Cincinnati Draft Recap, Day 1.

Today FC Cincinnati gained five new players via MLS SuperDraft in Chicago. Heading into the draft FCC dealt with LAFC to secure their first round pick (16th) in exchange for future allocation money.

Additionally, they purchased ALL of Philadelphia Union’s selections in exchange for $150,000 in GAM.

Coming into the draft, FCC had 22 players on the roster:

2 Goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 7 midfielders, 3 attackers.

Seems that attack would have been the priority - however FCC did not address attacking department at any point today.

Too, MLS’ Sam Stejskal went way out of his way to mention that FCC is close to inking Chilean CAM Matais Fernandez who would immediately become the centerpiece of our midfield.

Here are the selections and a little bit of information on them.

Round 1

Pick 1 - Frankie Amaya - Midfielder, UCLA

Frankie is a US Men’s National Team U-20 player, so this is very cool to see. Considered to be best all around player by many, the 18 year old Amaya will likely spend a lot of 2019 being blocked by the anchors of FC Cincinnati’s midfield. This is a piece that they could flip or develop - youth and hype is certainly on his side.

It is worth mentioning that LAFC was beating down the door to take this pick for Amaya. Their offer of $200K GAM + picks was countered by $500K. It shows that the team is aware that they have something of value. LAFC could continue to work something out.

Pick 13- Logan Gdula - Defender (OB), Wake Forest

College soccer can be hard to gauge, but Wake Forest is consistently good and Gdula was their best player. He can play outside back and that depth is nice, but there is no reason to believe he’ll be taking Garza or Deplange’s gigs.

Pick 16 - Traded to RYRB, second round pick + $125K GAM

Not a bad move. Recouped some of the investment in Philadelphia deal, in nothing else. Too, if they didn’t have a practical option in mind - this was a great use of the pick.

Round 2

Pick 5 -  29th overall: Tommy McCabe - Midfielder, Notre Dame

Clearly not going after attack, with several options still on the table. McCabe is another player that will be in the midfield logjam.

Pick 6 - 30th overall: Jimmy Haugue - Goalkeeper, Michigan State

This should round out the goalkeeping roster. Super safe option, will not be expensive to retain, but will not have a prayer at breaking camp over Richey and Tyton.

Pick 13 - 37th overall:  Ben Lundt, - Goalkeeper, Akron

Lundt was considered to be a top goalkeeper option coming into the draft, but he’s German and not many teams will afford him an International roster spot. FCC will likely loan him out until he can work towards citizenship or gain transfer value.

FCC will select two more players in round three, and one more in round four via conference call on Monday, January 14th.  

Transfer window is still open, but training begins on January, 30th at IMG Academy in Florida, FCC is very close to limiting themselves formation-wise.

With the first pick in the 2019 MLS Mock Draft - FC Cincinnati selects Tajon Buchanan from Syracuse

FC Cincinnati, Pick 1:  

Tajon Buchanan, F, (Syracuse) : Simply put -  Coming into the Superdraft FC Cincinnati has 22 players on the roster,  and only three of them are attackers. They desperately need warm bodies in this department and Buchanon has the added benefits of being a Generation Adidas selection who will fill a domestic player slot. This makes the risk extremely low all around. 

FCC is already maxed out on International spots and it's extremely unlikely that they would favor anyone in the this talent pool to push out a current rostered option. 

Too, there is already a log jam in the backline and midfield. If FCC opts to go for someone who will make an impact this season for better or worse they'll have to place that bet on someone who can play in the final third. 

It is very possible that they go after another first round selection as well given that they have two second round picks to dangle in a trade and much more room on the roster than anyone else in the league. 

MLS has released the full season schedule, here are the tasty details for FC Cincinnati.

Monday, January 7th, 2018

MLS has released the full season schedule this afternoon after withholding all but the first three games for each team since December 20th, when FC Cincinnati learned that their welcome party to Major League Soccer would be against three recent league champions in Portland (2015), Atlanta (2018), and Seattle (2016) which is quite a task for any club, let alone our brand spanking new one that hasn’t even completed their roster.

Final touches to the roster are still coming together - more to come on that later this week.

The highlights of the scheduling for the Orange and blue feature seven national television appearances:

March 2nd, @ Seattle Sounders (FS1)

March 10th, @ Atlanta United (ESPN)

March 17th, vs Portland Timbers (FS1)

April 7th, vs Sporting Kansas City (ESPN)

June 29th, @ Minnesota United (ESPN)

July 18th, vs DC United (ESPN)

August 8th, vs Columbus Crew (FS1)

The orange and blue will square off with each Eastern Conference team twice (home and away) while facing each Western Conference side only once with an even home and away split.

There is a scrumptious couple of weeks when FCC will run into natural rival Columbus Crew SC twice in August (10th & 25th)  for the official beginning of the Hell Is Real derby in which FCC currently holds the crown.

Without seeing this team kick a ball in the league, it it absolutely impossible to predict how the team will perform.

Last year there were 11 teams in the East, 12 in the West. It took 50 and 49 points, respectively to make the playoffs. That’s where FCC needs to be looking for as a barometer for success. As close to 50 as they can possibly get and make it interesting in September.

If you’re just now getting into soccer - there are three possible outcomes.

Win - 3pts

Draw - 1pt

Loss - 0 pts

FCC fans should not expect the same initial success that the club saw in USL. Soccer is a hard game. MLS roster construction is next to impossible to understand, and FCC’s most valuable (on paper) player is trying to regain upper echelon MLS status.

That said, there are no punks in this league and FCC have gone global with their roster thus far, with a couple of weeks of work left to do. The club has indicated that there will not be a second designated player being added to the roster in this transfer window - and that is smart. See what this team actually does, and address the needs in the summer.

This season is not about making the playoffs, it’s about trying to - and the final prediction is:

Literally impossible to say - don’t be crazy. It probably won’t be incredible in all likelihood - but with the league allowing 14 of the (current) 24 teams into the tournament - it won’t take the “incredible” to have a fun first MLS season.

FC Cincinnati Hot Stove: 1/1/19

The Major League Soccer Combine is set to begin in just a couple of days in Orlando. The six day event will be where SuperDraft eligible athletes will be making their final cases for MLS roster consideration. The draft itself takes place in Chicago on Friday, January 11th. It will be streaming live on MLSsoccer.com beginning at 12pm ET.

FC Cincinnati will be selecting first in each of five rounds this year, and they recently made a deal with Toronto FC to secure an additional second round selection (30th, overall) which will hopefully give the club an extra touch of quality that they are increasingly in search of as the preseason inches closer with each day.

The side is set to begin preseason competition at IMG Academy and will start the campaign on January, 30th against Montreal Impact. At this exact moment, only 22 of a possible 30 roster spots are accounted for.

When we look at the roster going into the draft, it’s abundantly clear that the club needs to secure a best available attacking option, almost by default at this point.

The current squad of 22 is constructed by:

(in no particular order)

2 Goalkeepers: Tytoń, Richey

8 Defenders:  Garza, Waston, Powell, Deplagne, N’Dam, Hoyte, Smith, Lasso.

8 Midfielders: Bertone, Alashi, Ulloa, Alexander, Bone, Ledesma, McGlaughlin, Albadawi.

4 Attackers: Adi, Mattocks, Welshman, Lamah.

Thus far the club hasn’t spared any expense with defenders. Garza, Waston, Powell, and are all tested upper echelon options within the league, but it comes with an extra problem in that each are international team players and will all likely be out at the same time during this year’s Gold Cup which will run from June 15th- July 7th. This line plus Mathieu Deplagne is the best back line they can field, and for better or worse -  they all can potentially become unavailable a simultaneously. FCC will need to secure some quality depth. This season may not be all about winning, but it would certainly not serve the club well to lose a good run of form this summer because the backup squad is largely USL quality talent.

The younger USL incumbents Forrest Lasso and Blake Smith certainly deserve their fair chance in the top flight - but it isn’t hard to imagine experienced MLS forwards being a few steps ahead of these guys. If they can’t hang - and a playoff appearance is missed by a few points, this will be magnified.

As much as the defense might need depth - The attack needs actual warm bodies to put uniforms on. At the moment with the four attacking options, only two can really be counted on at this point in time in Adi and Mattocks - and both are exciting to have, but that’s a lot of MLS 2.0 potential in the attack. The team needs more options, as there is a real possibility that they are already down to three.

Roland Lamah was picked up in the expansion draft, and was already due for a contract re-construction in Dallas. To date he is absent from the team’s official roster, and there’s been no club/league official announcement guaranteeing that his intent is to be with the club or a deal is near completion.

This, coupled with the international transfer window currently being open - means that Lamah’s status is fairly questionable. If Lamah becomes cemented into the roster, it will require some level of parity as he’s a specialist on the left side of the pitch. The right side will need something that the current roster doesn’t have in bonafide form.

Too, the club brought back Emery Welshman, who occupies one of the eight coveted league controlled international roster spots. The club has already limited themselves by filling all eight and  a supplemental ninth.

If any point in the SuperDraft, transfer market, or otherwise the club opts for another additional international spot, Welshman will be on the first to go list - which doesn’t mean gone forever necessarily, as he may be loaned for a period of time. The club won’t deprive itself of this option though of push comes to shove. There is no shortage of international talent in this draft, or open market.

In the goalminder category - it’s likely that FCC will not be making it a priority to address the fact that they only have two spots filled. After securing the ideal starter Przemysław Tytoń, retaining Spencer Richey for backup, and not officially waving by to an already established Evan Newton. It looks more and more like the club have done their due diligence, explored all other options, and nothing came together organically. Newton is a fine option to round out the GK staff.

Is it obvious what the club will do with this first pick? Not quite.

It is very important to remember that MLS is a melting pot of talent from all over the world. A “pretty good” NCAA athlete will have to look Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and company in the eye and try their best. There’s levels to this game and it is very possible that nobody selected in this draft will see the field. It’s equally possible that they draft a mainstay of the team - see Julian Gressel of Atlanta United.

In fact of the 81 Super Draft picks in 2018 - only 22 saw minutes this year. FC Cincinnati is short on depth in a handful of places, which is to be expected for any expansion team - and the club has kept nine USL level players to cover these holes without starting off their MLS life in the red financially.

So what’s the best strategy? It just happens to be what Alan Koch and company decide to prioritize.

Here’s three options, with varying levels of spice.

The Jalapeńo :

In the next few days, there will be seven players tabbed as “Generation Adidas” eligible which will allow the club to pick them up and the spot would not count against the club’s senior roster or salary cap.  

Said Haji from VCU is projected to be one of such players, and is considered to be best overall pick in the midfield. Midfielders can be utilized in so many ways - going after an impressionable youngster with the added financial benefits might be an attractive way to go.

As mentioned, the midfield is already deep and competitive. It would be hard to see Haji, or anyone FCC opts for coming into the season as a perennial starter from the jump.

The Habanero:

Seek out, and manufacture a superstar. FC Cincinnati is a MLS team now, and while the immediate needs to be dealt with - the future is not to be ignored. The attack needs depth, and there’s one standout forward who was far and away the best finisher in all of college soccer.

Andre Shinyahiki - Denver

His 28 goals for Denver came from both feet. While NCAA success doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will translate into MLS - Andre is the best pound for pound forward available. It is unclear how often Alan Koch will opt for a three forward attack, but the team is unquestionable low on forwards and this piece has to be addressed one way or the other.

Given that he was so far and away the best goal scorer - there’s reason to be tracking Shinyashiki as a development piece that can one day become a mainstay for the club.

The tough part of this pick would be figuring out the international slots. Shinyashiki is Brazilian, and if this pick happens it would mean immediately putting him out for loan, or making the aforementioned move with Welshman, which would still leave the team with only four forwards.

FCC cannot plan on having the first overall pick in future seasons - and there’s no reason not to gamble. The midfield depth will be available in later rounds, but Shinyashiki will not be.

The Carolina Reaper:

The Habanero + some dealing.

From an analysis standpoint, it’s unlikely that the later round players will play significant minutes.

Forgo the process of rounds 3-5. Sell the picks off for whatever they can in exchange for future second round picks or allocation money. Fill the remaining roster spots with experienced MLS free agents at worst, play out the year,  and take advantage of the summer transfer window. Prioritize needs from there, with players that are of use. If the club finds themselves in a “win now” position - they will opt for something much more powerful than the bottom of the 2019 SuperDraft barrel.

Talk to us! @RiverCityRepub / @TWesleySnipes / Tylerdavidsnipes@gmail.com

Profile - Leonardo Bertone

On December 18th, FC Cincinnati announced the signing of Leonardo Bertone - who will occupy the eighth midfield signing to date.

Bertone has spent his entire career in Switzerland’s Super League with BSC Youngboys. He was an integral part of Youngboys’ 2017/2018 near wire-to-wire League championship, which qualified them for the biggest competition in all of soccer - the UEFA Champions league for 2018/2019.

Youngboys were placed in as tough of a group stage as you could imagine, having to compete against the likes of Manchester United, Valencia, and Juventus. Each of these teams are accustomed to tougher competition than Youngboys typically encounter.

While they failed to advance, they were able to take a victory from Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus, a match in which Bertone was used as a substitute - which is a nice feather in his cap.

Overall, Bertone has a different background and makeup from the typical MLS player, and we hope that will serve him well. Being that he’s only 24, we will look for him to be a starting fixture in our midfield hopefully for years to come.

In 179 appearances with Youngboys, Bertone netted 18 goals and 11 assists primarily out of the defensive midfield role.

It is unclear how this deal came together, or how much he’s on the books for. Tanksfermarkt values him at approximately £1.35M.

We do know that Alan Koch’s recent appearance at a BSC Youngboys match  meant a lot to Bertone, as he indicated in his first interview with Alex Stec.  

Bertone is native to Switzerland, and will occupy an International roster slot, one of eight permitted by MLS.