We Cannot Let Cincinnati Pessimism Ruin FCC's First Season Before It's Started


FC Cincinnati was always going to be facing an uphill battle from the moment they got into MLS. They had unprecedented success in the lower division USL, breaking many records and receiving many accolades, but still falling short of winning it all. Despite the early playoff bounce, stock in FCC among Cincinnatian's was at an all time high. Finally, after decades, they had a team that they thought could bring them consistent success, or perhaps more importantly, not bring them continued heart break.

FCC clearly had their way with most of their foes in the USL. But MLS and the upcoming season was going to be an entirely different ball game. With only a handful of months to put together a functioning roster to play cohesive soccer, expectations had to be tempered. But fans were still on a FCC high, with a constant flurry of stadium news, player acquisitions, logo and jersey unveilings, the offseason was anything but uninteresting and FCC kept itself in the news cycle constantly.

(CBS SPORTS)

But within MLS and US Soccer punditry there was an overlying question that prevailed all of this, almost to an annoying degree: which MLS expansion precursor would Cincinnati follow? Would they spend lavishly like Atlanta and LAFC and be competitive playoff teams from day one? Or would they be Minnesota, who didn't spend much at all, and gave up 70 goals in their first season? As the offseason ran its course, it was clear the squad Koch and Co. were putting together was not going to be the fast flowing attack you would see from Atlanta or LAFC. We didn't have our Joseph Martinez or Carlos Vela. Our squad was constructed around Fanendo Adi, with a lot of aging MLS veterans and experienced players from abroad. Many commentators were quick to throw us in the bin with Minnesota, with almost every single online prediction having us come in dead last at the end of the season.

After some middling preseason success, it was unclear how this team would produce on the field. Many had counted them out, but no one knew for sure until they hit the pitch in their first fully competitive match. Expectations around the city were varied. Long-time fans of the team and MLS knew this would be a building process, that a loss was expected. Other newer fans looked on with rose tinted glasses thinking we might be able to pull this thing off. Overall, there seemed to be a genuine feeling of excitement and anticipation. A new age for Cincinnati sports.

After 90 minutes in Century Link stadium, that feeling changed really fast.

Outside of a small 10 minute window when FCC was leading and somewhat controlling the game, the Orange and Blue were out played in nearly every facet of the game. Thanks to some heroic last second saves from Hagglund, Waston, and Deplagne, Seattle was held to just 4 goals. It could have been a lot more.

For many experienced fans, this was somewhat expected, but all over the internet and in person I have seen many fans ready to throw FCC into the bin of mediocre, disappointing, Cincinnati sports after just 90 minutes of play. Was it a bad game? Certainly, without question. Will there be more of these? Yes, without question. In the next 10 matches FCC will face 9 opponents who were in the playoffs last season. Atlanta, Portland, New York Red Bulls, LAFC, and Sporting KC, are top teams in the league. Philadelphia and RSL are no slouches either. They are going to be up against the best of the best.

My biggest fear is that this city will not be able to withstand a whole season of this, let alone 2 more months of it. If casual fans keep seeing 2-0, 3-1, 4-1, defeats, will they keep watching? Or will they toss FCC to the side and give up before the team has had a chance to become an actual team? This isn't to say we should make excuses and just accept abysmal performances from our soccer team week-in and week-out. But at the same time we need to have patience and let this thing develop.

(PRO SOCCER USA) 

It's easy to cast judgement so quickly, especially for the nay-sayer's in town who have been against FCC since day one. I'd hold off any serious worries until the Summer FIFA international break around the end of June and into July. At that point we'll have had 17 games under out belt with 7 of those at home. We need to see not only how the teams adjusts after a loss, but how they perform at home in front of their 30,000+ fans. Home field advantage is huge in soccer, and if we can make Nippert a fortress where we come away with points in every home game, we will be set up nicely.

So while the first half of this season is certainly going to be tough, we need to do something Cincinnati sports fans have been afraid to do for decades: Believe. Believe that this team can still be something special and something different. Believe that not every sports team in Cincinnati is cursed to decades of disappointment and failure. Believe that there is some hope in Cincinnati sports and soccer.

The second half of the season holds a lot of home games for FCC, including two #HellIsReal games in three weeks. If we can get some chemistry, some more quality under our belts, and maybe another signing or two in the Summer window, this team could be set up for a great second half of the season. Just take a look at Seattle, who last season was absolutely abysmal up until July, only scrapping 12 points out of their first 15 games of the season. They then when on to only lose 2 out of their next 19 games, reaching the #2 seed in the Western Conference. In 2016 they started out with 20 points in their first 20 games, then getting 28 points in their remaining 14 games and taking the #4 seed all the way to the MLS Cup. They did the same thing again in 2017, starting with 19 points from 16 games, then getting 35 points in 18 matches and taking the #2 seed all the way to the MLS Cup again where they finally won it. Even Atlanta United has lost all three of their season openers and this season are struggling to get back to their scoring ways. In MLS, if you can get hot in the second half of the season, anything can happen.

The point is, after just one measly game, there is no reason to give up. There are still 33 games left to play, with 17 of them at home. With some patience, belief, and support, FCC's inaugural season could still be something special.

(FC CINCINNATI)

Comments

Popular Posts