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FC Cincinnati

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FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati primary logo 2018.svg
Full nameFootball Club Cincinnati[1]
Nickname(s)Orange and Blue
FoundedMay 29, 2018; 12 months ago (2018-05-29)[nb 1]
StadiumNippert Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio
OwnerCarl Lindner III
Interim head coachYoann Damet
LeagueMajor League Soccer
WebsiteClub website
Current season

FC Cincinnati is a soccer club based in Cincinnati, Ohio that plays in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS). The team succeeded the lower-division team of the same name and was announced on May 29, 2018, when MLS awarded an expansion franchise to Cincinnati.[3][4] The team began MLS play on March 2, 2019 with its first match against Seattle Sounders FC. The club's ownership group is led by Carl H. Lindner III with Jeff Berding serving as president and general manager.


The owners of the USL club began negotiations with Major League Soccer over a potential expansion franchise in early 2016, and Cincinnati was announced as one of ten cities that had expressed interest in the slots for teams 25 to 28.[5][6] MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited Cincinnati in December 2016 to tour Nippert Stadium and meet with city and club officials, complimenting the city and its fans.[7] FC Cincinnati formally submitted its expansion bid in January 2017, including a shortlist of potential stadium locations.[8]

On May 29, 2018, Major League Soccer announced that Cincinnati would join the league in 2019 as an expansion team under the FC Cincinnati brand.[9][3] The West End Stadium, a 26,000-seat soccer-specific venue in the West End, is scheduled to open in 2021.[3][10]

FC Cincinnati signed their first two MLS players, Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe, in July 2018. Adi was the team's first designated player.[11] Both players were loaned to the FC Cincinnati USL team for the remainder of the 2018 season.[12]

FC Cincinnati selected five players from certain MLS teams in the expansion draft, which took place on December 11, 2018.[13]

The players were Darren Mattocks (D.C United), Kei Kamara (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Roland Lamah (FC Dallas), Eric Alexander (Houston Dynamo), and Hassan Ndam (New York Red Bulls). Kei Kamara was then traded to the Colorado Rapids for an international roster spot.[14]

On May 7, 2019, the club fired head coach Alan Koch after a 2–7–2 start to the 2019 MLS season.[15] Assistant coach Yoann Damet was named as interim head coach. President and general manager Jeff Berding cited a culmination of on-field performance and off-field matters for the dismissal.[16]


FC Cincinnati will play at Nippert Stadium while their new West End Stadium is being built.[3] The new stadium is expected to open in 2021.[17]

The West End Stadium will have a capacity between 25,500 and 26,500 making it one of the largest soccer-specific stadiums in Major League Soccer. The stadium will include a grass field as well as a full canopy roof that goes around the entire stadium bowl and covers all seated rows. The roof and facades will have Ethylene tetrafluoro-ethylene (ETFE) foil technology which can be used to light up the stadium during events. The design for the inside bowl of the stadium incorporates a cut-out feature in the southeast corner that will give spectators a clear view of the Cincinnati skyline from their seats. In the north end of the stadium will be the FC Cincinnati's supporters section, The Bailey, which will be almost twice as large as the current supporters section at Nippert Stadium. Many new premium seating and entertainment options will be available to fans that include multiple club seating options and suite configurations. The needs of the players played a major role in the design of the team areas that include the team room and medical facilities. The West End Stadium will meet all requirements to host CONCACAF and FIFA events. The stadium will be an enticing location to play for international club teams during their American tours and friendlies in their offseason. Furthermore, Cincinnati is one of the final twenty three host city candidates for the 2026 World Cup.[18]

Colors and badge

FC Cincinnati's primary colors are orange and blue. The secondary colors are gray, dark blue, and white. The home jersey is blue, orange, and white. The away jersey is white and black.[19]

An updated crest was designed after they were accepted as an expansion team to Major League Soccer. It maintains the same orange and blue color scheme but now pays tribute to the city of Cincinnati, especially its German heritage.[20]


Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor Ref.
2019–present Adidas[21] Mercy Health Partners [3]

FC Cincinnati reached a multiyear deal with First Financial Bank to serve as the club's exclusive banking and financial services partner. First Financial will gain many benefits from this partnership. There will be a First Financial Gate as well as a premium club area at the new stadium. They will also be involved in planning community events, fan experiences and game-day activities.[22]


The "Hell Is Real" sign on Interstate 71 between Cincinnati and Columbus

Cincinnati has an in-state rival in Columbus Crew.[23] The idea of the Ohio soccer rivalry first gained popularity ahead of a 2017 U.S. Open Cup match between FC Cincinnati (then in the United Soccer League) and the Crew. The rivalry was dubbed the Hell Is Real Derby after a billboard on Interstate 71, the highway between Columbus and Cincinnati.[24][25] The clubs will face off in their first-ever league matches in 2019: on August 10 in Columbus and August 25 in Cincinnati (the latter match will take place during MLS Rivalry Week).[26]


General manager Jeff Berding, MLS commissioner Don Garber, club owner Carl Lindner III, and Cincinnati mayor John Cranley at the MLS franchise announcement in 2018

Former Cincinnati Bengals executive Jeff Berding is the president and general manager.[27] The CEO and majority owner of the team is Carl Lindner III, CEO of American Financial Group, with Scott Farmer also a leading owner.[28][29]

In May 2019, Dutch football executive Gerard Nijkamp joined the club as general manager to oversee all the club’s sports activities. Nijkamp will be reporting to Berding.[30]


On January 30, 2019, FC Cincinnati reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to have WSTR-TV televise all home and away games, except for ones already scheduled to be broadcast nationally. Continuing from their roles on the former USL team, Tom Gelehrter calls play-by-play with Kevin McCloskey as color analyst. Lindsay Patterson serves as sideline reporter.[31]

Players and staff


As of January 9, 2019[32]
No. Position Player Nation
2 Defender Kendall Waston  Costa Rica
3 Defender Forrest Lasso  United States
4 Defender Greg Garza  United States
6 Midfielder Leonardo Bertone   Switzerland
7 Midfielder Roland Lamah  Belgium
8 Midfielder Víctor Ulloa  Mexico
9 Forward Fanendo Adi (DP)  Nigeria
11 Forward Darren Mattocks  Jamaica
13 Goalkeeper Jimmy Hague  United States
14 Defender Nick Hagglund  United States
15 Midfielder Allan Cruz (DP)  Costa Rica
16 Midfielder Eric Alexander  United States
17 Defender Mathieu Deplagne  France
18 Goalkeeper Spencer Richey  United States
19 Midfielder Corben Bone  United States
20 Midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin  United States
22 Goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń  Poland
24 Midfielder Frankie Amaya (GA)  United States
26 Midfielder Tommy McCabe  United States
27 Midfielder Fatai Alashe  United States
31 Forward Kekuta Manneh  Gambia
32 Defender Justin Hoyte  Trinidad and Tobago
33 Midfielder Caleb Stanko  United States
45 Midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma  Argentina
81 Midfielder Rashawn Dally  Jamaica
92 Defender Alvas Powell  Jamaica
93 Midfielder Kenny Saief (on loan from Anderlecht)  United States

Out on loan

No. Position Player Nation
5 Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi (on loan to North Carolina FC)  Palestine
10 Forward Emery Welshman (on loan to Forge FC)  Guyana
21 Defender Logan Gdula (on loan to Hartford Athletic)  United States
39 Goalkeeper Ben Lundt (on loan to Louisville City)  Germany
47 Defender Hassan Ndam (on loan to Charlotte Independence)  Cameroon

Coaching staff

Yoann Damet became interim head coach after Alan Koch was fired on May 7, 2019.
As of May 7, 2019[33]
Name Role
Yoann Damet Interim head coach
Pa-Modou Kah Assistant coach
Jack Stern Goalkeeping coach
Diego Martinez del Campo Video analyst
Austin Berry Strength & conditioning coach

Former coaches

Name Role year(s)
Alan Koch head coach 2019


As of June 13, 2019[34]

Includes both the MLS and US Open Cup competitions

Top goalscorers

Name Games played Goals
Kekuta Manneh 16 3
Darren Mattocks 13 2
Allan Cruz 10 2
Mathieu Deplagne 16 1
Roland Lamah 15 1
Leonardo Bertone 12 1
Kendall Waston 12 1
Kenny Saief 9 1
Fanendo Adi 9 1


The club recognizes the following supporters' groups: Die Innenstadt, the Pride, Queen City Firm, the Bridge (formerly the Legion), the Briogáid (formerly the Bailey Bastards), Auxilia One (based in New York City), and Hangar 937 (based in Dayton, Ohio).[35]


  1. ^ MLS franchise formed in 2018 but did not begin play until 2019. FC Cincinnati played in the USL and was founded in 2016.


  1. ^ Weingartner, Tana. "Football Club Cincinnati: Check Out FC Cincinnati's New Branding". Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "Record Crowd Watches FCC Take on Crystal Palace". MLS Digital. July 16, 2016. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Cincinnati awarded MLS expansion club, will start play in 2019". MLS Digital. May 29, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  4. ^ "FC Cincinnati to join MLS as expansion team". ESPN Internet Ventures, LLC. May 29, 2018. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  5. ^ Couch, Ben (December 15, 2016). "MLS announces expansion process and timeline". MLS Digital. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  6. ^ "FC Cincinnati 'in talks' with Major League Soccer, but no solid plan in the works". WCPO. April 23, 2016. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  7. ^ Hatch, Charlie (December 4, 2016). "MLS Commissioner Don Garber impressed by Cincinnati after midweek tour". MLS Digital. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  8. ^ Brennan, Patrick (January 31, 2017). "FC Cincinnati submits expansion bid to MLS". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  9. ^ Brennan, Patrick (May 29, 2018). "It's official: FC Cincinnati has joined MLS, will begin play in 2019". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  10. ^ Watkins, Steve (March 22, 2018). "Here's when FC Cincinnati plans to begin play in new stadium". Cincinnati Business Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  11. ^ "FC Cincinnati signs Fanendo Adi, Fatai Alashe ahead of MLS move". ESPN. July 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "Cincinnati Bolsters Squad with Adi, Alashe". July 31, 2018.
  13. ^ "FC Cincinnati can select 5 major league players for inaugural roster". November 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Bogart, Tom (December 11, 2018). "2018 Expansion Draft Results: FC Cincinnati pick, trade big names".
  15. ^ "Club Dismisses Head Coach Alan Koch". FC Cincinnati. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Brennan, Patrick (May 7, 2019). "FC Cincinnati dismises Alan Koch as head coach". Gannett Company. The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  17. ^ Knight, Cameron (October 19, 2018). "FC Cincinnati stadium will break ground Dec. 19, open March 2021". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  18. ^ "West End Stadium".
  19. ^ Watkins, Steve (February 11, 2019). "FC Cincinnati unveils jerseys for MLS".
  20. ^ Bava, John (November 12, 2018). "FC Cincinnati Unveils Updated Crest Ahead of Inaugural MLS Season".
  21. ^ "Major League Soccer and adidas extend landmark partnership through 2024". MLS Digital. August 2, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  22. ^ Watkins, Steve (January 16, 2019). "FC Cincinnati".
  23. ^ Reed, Tom (June 14, 2017). "It's feeling real in Cincinnati". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  24. ^ Murphy, Pat (June 14, 2017). "Massive Predictions: Hell is Real – Will Hell freeze over or take over Columbus following this U.S. Open Cup Derby?". Massive Report. SB Nation. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Hatch, Charlie (June 14, 2017). "'HELL IS REAL,' and so is FC Cincinnati's threat to Columbus". FourFourTwo. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  26. ^ "FCC's Inaugural MLS Schedule Released". MLS Digital. January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  27. ^ Kay, Joe (May 29, 2018). "FC Cincinnati to join MLS in 2019 as league's latest expansion team". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  28. ^ Strauss, Brian (February 1, 2017). "MLS expansion city profile: Cincinnati". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  29. ^ Watkins, Steve (May 23, 2018). "FC Cincinnati owner Lindner on MLS bid: 'I think we're going to get over the finish line'". Cincinnati Business Courier.
  30. ^ "Gerard Nijkamp Hired as General Manager". FC Cincinnati. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  31. ^ "WSTR Star64 Announced As Local Broadcast Partner". (Press release). MLS Digital. January 30, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  32. ^ "Roster". MLS Digital. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  33. ^ "Club Staff". FC Cincinnati. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  34. ^ "FC Cincinnati Scoring Stats". ESPN. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  35. ^ "Supporters' Groups". MLS Digital. March 26, 2019.