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Paul King - Becoming Royalty

Started on 10 June 2019 by TheLFCFan
Latest Reply on 2 October 2019 by ScottT
TheLFCFan's avatar Group TheLFCFan
5 yearsEdited
I have always loved football, and not the football usually associated with America. Real football, or soccer as my American compatriots call it. But to me it is Football and forever will be football.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, I took a very different path to most people born here in the Midwest. Most kids grew up watching the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cleveland Browns in the NFL, or the Cleveland Cavilers in the NBA. I however, always had a passion for football.

The child of English parents, Charles and Sandra King, they moved out to America in 1985, a couple of years before I was born, an only child. Dad was football mad, born in the city of Nottingham, he had been a life long supporter of Nottingham Forest. Hearing stories of the great Brian Clough, and how he had taken Forest to the famous back to back Champions league wins of 1979 and 1980, from a young age my love for the sport grew. Despite the greatness of the sport being told to me, it hadn’t picked up throughout America. With the NASL (National American Soccer League) being formed in the late 1960s and showcasing some legendary talent such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, for the historic New York Cosmos, the hype just wasn’t enough and less than 20 years since its founding the league folded in 1985.

This meant the only times I could watch this great sport was when dad and I would go down to the local University of Cincinnati and watch the Cincinnati Bears or when Dad would play his VHS tapes of the successful Nottingham Forrest sides of the late 70s and early 80s, or whenever the National side would play. Despite the lack of attention the sport received in the country and the little I managed to watch throughout my youth I loved it, playing in the local junior leagues from the age of 6. It was that year, 1993, that the MLS (Major League Soccer) was founded in part of Americas bid to host the 1994 World Cup, the bid that was successful.

Dad and Mum managed to secure tickets to the Round of Sixteen match between Germany and Belgium at Soldier Field in Chicago a 4-hour trip. Getting to see the defending champions with legends of the game like Jurgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler, ensured I knew what I wanted to do. The game ended 3-2 in favour of the Germans with both Völler and Klinsmann on the scoresheet. Being able to witness such an incredible game in a stadium the size of Soldier Field continued to wet my appetite for the game. I was mesmerised by the ease in which the players on the pitch seemingly glided around with such skill and finesse.

After the success of the ’94 world cup, two years later the MLS saw its first match when San Jose Clash (now known as the San Jose Earthquakes) beat the eventual inaugural champions DC United. With the game being shown live on ESPN, me and Dad sat there with the hope that it would be the start of something big for football in this country. Now aged 9 I was finally able to experience weekly football. It was just another piece to the puzzle that made me love the game further, it allowed me to want to get into the game more and more. The closest side to me was Columbus Crew, a side who was in my home state of Ohio. Despite supporting the side and even seeing them lift the MLS for the first time in 2008 I never held a strong affinity for the team. It never felt quite right.

During my high school years I had become a useful player as a rather large 5”11 at 14, though I didn’t grow much more, ending my growth at 6”1, I played as a strong tackling Defensive Midfield player throughout my school career, eventually getting a scholarship at University of Cincinnati something me and my family were incredibly proud of.

My University career was one that showed promise. We had a good side, well drilled by the coaches. I was clearly a standout player and had hopes of being drafted in the relatively new MLS super draft, founded in 2000, and becoming the first Cincinnati Bearcats (The University’s team name) to do so. However, towards the end of my 3rd year injuries began piling up. Back injuries hamstring tears, calf issues, I just continued to get injured. My draft ranking went for a 3rd round prospect and making the MLS down to undrafted. This hurt deeply, for as long as I could remember I wanted to be out on that pitch playing this wonderful game, a game id fallen in love with from a young age. Having watched players like Peter Shilton, Trevor Francis (The first player to ever cost £1 million) and John McGovern from Dads Nottingham Forest VHS videos. Before seeing the likes of Rudi Völler and Jurgen Klinsmann at that 1994 world cup, everything I had done was leading towards becoming a professional footballer, yet it wasn’t to be.

It made my second dream a lot harder, becoming a successful manager just like the legendary Brian Clough.
I love this idea of having an American manager given the rapid growth in popularity of the sport over there. Side note that Brian Clough was nothing without the legendary Peter Taylor, too ;)
Football has seen a rapid boost over in the US, especially over the last decade or so thanks in part to the likes of David Beckham. I look forward to seeing how this story fairs. Best of luck!
Nice idea! The American dream , hopefully you can make this work! Good luck!
soccer* ;)

A Way Into Coaching

Having a successful three years at the University of Cincinnati, consistent injury problems especially with my back meant I gave playing up at the age of 21. Having been a part of the University’s third ever NCAA appearance in 2006 being the pinnacle of my time at the school. I was always smart on the pitch, seemingly 2 steps ahead of everyone else. I believe it came down to just how much I loved the game, having watched all those VHS tapes from a young age, from the stories my Dad would tell, from going to games and playing from the age of 6. My anticipation and overall football IQ allowed me a great advantage over my opponents.

A view of the amazing facilities avalible at the University of Cincinnati

Having a final year of my course to go but knowing I could no longer play the game I was determined to stay involved in the team. Head Coach Hylton Dayes, had always shown me the upmost respect and we always got along great. This relationship meant he was more than happy for me to become a part time coach whilst I finished my final year of college. Hylton was great, a defender from Jamaica, he had played professional football for a couple of years in the NASL before starting his coaching career. Having over 20 years of experience I gained a lot from him and when he moved back to his old college team Wright State Raiders in 2011 I was shocked to learn he had put my name forward to become the new Head Coach.

Having been the assistant coach for a little over 2 years after I had finished college in 2009, becoming Head Coach at just 24 was very rare. It showed the faith the University had in me and I was determined to pay them back for that faith. Having qualified for the NCAA three times in the University’s history, firstly in 1998, then 2003 and finally in 2006, we had never made it past the first round. I set out to change this.

It took us 3 years, but in 2015 we finally qualified again. Ranked as the lowest possible 16th seed, we knew the odds were stacked against us. The draw pitted us up against our older brother of sorts, Ohio State University. The states university, facilities were much better than ours, funding was much larger, the quality and depth of their squad supposedly a lot better than ours. But none of that mattered. Going up against former Tampa Bay Rowdies defender John Bluem, as a coach with a lot more experience than me, someone who had started coaching in 1991, the year I turned 4, I felt confident.

The players went out on the Ohio State pitch, and defended with heart. They threw everything they had at us. Attack after attack wave after wave, they continuously came at us. We weren’t a defensive side by any stretch of the imagination, throughout our season we had shown a willingness to attack and play some beautiful possession-based football, but we knew what we had to do in this game.

After the barrage of pressure in the 72nd minute we finally had a chance of moving forward. Led by Ghanaian born future MLS draftee Emmanuel (Eman) Appiah. We surged forward, a nice passing move saw Eman on the edge of the box and with a beautiful whip the ball sailed into the top right-hand corner, giving us the 1 goal lead. With 18 minuets plus stoppage time to go, we couldn’t get ahead of ourselves. But we needn’t worry, the goal had taken everything out of the Ohio State side and we were able to see the game out winning 1-0 away from home against the much favoured side.

We had finally left the first round. The team I had grown up watching as my most local side, watching from the age of 6 and playing for them for 3 years before moving into the coaching role I had spent over 20 years of my life associated to the University. It was a magnificent achievement for the school and something I was immensely proud of.

It also began the start of something pretty special….


Jack: Thank you! America is always a country I have wanted to give a go, so why not write a story on it! Taylor and his importance may just become alot clearer to Paul later on ;)
Scott: Becks certainly bought the much needed popularity and start of the growth to the league with his move. Furthered by the likes of Kaka, Pirlo and Zlatan the league needs the names to continue to grow! Thanks mate!
BigMaguire: Thats the plan! Thank you!
Justice:*rolls eyes* Disappointing!
Well done to Paul for guiding the team to the next round, a fantastic achievement when you consider it's the very first time they have achieved this feat. He could have a bright future ahead of him! ;)

A New Club Is Formed

A professional football team had never really taken off in Cincinnati, something I had always found strange. The city was sport mad with the like of the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL (National Football League) and the Cincinnati Reds of the MLB (Major League Baseball). It seemed crazy to me that we had never had a professional football (or Soccer) team apart from the short stint of the Cincinnati Riverhawks who competed for just 6 years from 1997-2003.

The Riverhawks never put together any sort of performances and it was always a disappointing watch. Playing in the then A-League, the club only managed a highest placed finish of 3rd out of 4 teams in the central division in league 2 never making the playoffs. This lack of quality and investment caused the club to eventually fold in 2003.

With the growth of MLS following world renowned players such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry and the latest name Kaka joining the league in 2014. Whilst also seeing famous exports Tim Howard and Ohio born Brad Friedel and Stuart Holden, promoting the game for America in England, Carl Linder III announced he had founded and would own the newest sports team in Cincinnati, FC Cincinnati.

The new badge of FC Cincinnati

An Ohio born, graduate from The University of Cincinnati, Linder came from a rather prestigious background. His father, Carl Linder Jr. owned the American Financial Group, latter passed down to his son, which generated a reported revenue of $4.75 billion a year. With a personal Net worth of supposedly $2.7 billion, Linders financial backing of the club will be extraordinary. This financial support was one of the things the Riverhawks dearly lacked, with the club being sold for a total of $100,000 in 2005, the other being a lack of true direction.

This second issue seemingly wouldn’t be a worry this time around as Carl Linder III made his aims very clear for the club. He wanted FC Cincinnati to become an MLS team within the following five years. He wanted the city to be represented in a Major league once again and this time in soccer. Alongside this announcement, it was revealed that the club would share the ground of Cincinnati Bearcats, Nippert Stadium.

Nippert Stadium located on the University of Cincinnati campus, holds a capacity of 40,000 people, which would eventually see it in the top 10 (6th overall) in capacity in the MLS. Built in 1915, however, it would also become the oldest in American soccer stadiums, beating the previous oldest, Providence Park, which hosts the Portland Timbers, by 11 years. With a stadium secured Linder also confirmed training for the meantime would take place at Xavier Universities complex.

I liked the idea of this, it meant the club could get a look in at both Xavier and us at University of Cincinnati’s programmes and any potential future stars we had. By being in and around both campuses, which are just under an hour away from each other, the team were scouting youngsters all over the city from the get go.

With facilities secured, the focus turned towards bringing a group of staff together. Linder had made it clear he wanted the best possible members in every aspect of the club. The best available team President and General Manager turned out to be Jeff Berding.

Berding, who had previously been a member of the City Council of Cincinnati, had played a role in sports before having worked 19 years at Cincinnati Bengals. Another Ohio native, Berding was born in Westwood in Cincinnati. Having been a director at the Bengals for 19 years Berding decided to move on and accepted Carl Linders offer as both President and General Manager of the newest club. With the formation of the club looking promising, I was both excited and impressed by how local the direction of the club was going.

Which is why I probably shouldn’t of been as surprised as I was when in late 2015, after our remarkable victory over Ohio State and over seeing the development of the Universities first, first round pick in Emmanuel Appiah (who was drafted 15th in a few months later in January 2016), I received an interview as the manager of FC Cincinnati.


Scott: A massive achievement for a relatively small Division 1 college in America. Hopefully Pauls achievements continue and he grows a large list of success!
Interesting Seb to see the rise of of your coaching career and FC Cinncinati at the same time. Good luck with this!
The formation of FC Cincinnati will be a massive benefit for football in the area. The more areas covered, the better chance football has of thriving within the US.

Hopefully Paul's interview with the side can go to plan.
Very nice idea, well executed. Just a note from a Yank, though ... no Cincinnati fan would be caught dead watching the Cleveland Browns. :D Ohio is one of the cradles of American football and rivalries there run nearly as deep as they do in European leagues.

Cincinnati is also a great baseball town, with the Reds being the oldest team in organized professional ball. They would be Cincinnati FC's main summer competition for fans.

Good luck!
A very good start. It shall be interesting to see how this club endures time.
TheLFCFan's avatar Group TheLFCFan
5 yearsEdited

The Interview

I had been to the Nippert stadium countless times before. The last being a loss to NCAA holders Virginia in the 2nd round after our historic first round victory over Ohio State. With so much effort going in to the game in the First Round, the boys looked drained even before kick off. The major issue with the NCAA tournaments is the turn around on games, with just three days between fixtures. This means the fittest teams are always going to have an advantage and unfortunately, we weren’t quite up to the speed of the defending champs on the day. Virginia ran out as 2-0 victors at Nippert Stadium, but it was still an impressive feat for a side of our calibre to be there and perform as we had.

The impressive Nippert Stadium on a Cincnnati Bearcats American Football gameday

We didn’t play many games at the iconic stadium, making the loss hurt even more, but we had played out a couple over the years, I even scored one of my 10 career goals in my University career here. I had also attended hundreds of College football (American style) games here. The Cincinnati Bearcats American Football team are the pride and joy of the University of Cincinnati. Having won 5 conferences in the 10 years I was at the college between 2005-2015, the football team were certainly the big dogs on campus.

But this time I was here for a separate reason, having been gifted the opportunity to speak to the new owner and founder of FC Cincinnati, Carl Linder III and Team President and General Manager, Jeff Berding. They invited me down to discuss my thoughts on the club and the potential of me taking the reigns as Head Coach something I still couldn’t wrap my head around. It seemed crazy to me that as a coach of just 28 I could be managing a professional outfit. I knew my reputation was growing thanks to the progress the programme was making at the college, but enough to warrant a top job in the professional leagues?

It’s fair to say I was nervous, I had walked into the role as Head Coach at the University despite my age. Having been the assistant it was only natural, especially after Coach Dayes recommended me. This was different. This would be taking on a whole new level, managing a Professional outfit would require taking control of salaries and the salary cap that came with it. Trades, the draft, so much more would be added to my plate. But it’s what I wanted, it’s what I had always wanted. Ever since I was a youngster sat in the front room watching the VHS tapes of Notts Forest and hearing the stories of Brian Clough, I knew one day I wanted to become a manager. This was an opportunity to achieve that dream.

So when the discussions felt as though it was talks between life long friends I was delighted. It could not of gone better for me and my nerves evaporated very quickly. Carl and Jeff both explained their vision to me and we chatted for hours on how we could achieve these goals. It felt as though I walked into the room already confirmed as manager. They asked a few general questions about my role at the University, how my playing career was cut short and whether my age would be a problem in the changing room, but apart from that I felt trusted already.

Carl and Jeff told me the club would be implementing a Five Year Plan for the club, with the following being the key points:
  • • Form a strong core of Ohio based coaches for the initial years
    • Build a young squad and develop local talent
    • Grow the game in Cincinnati and gain strong results in the USL
    • Attract large crowds and sell out the stadium
    • Become an MLS Franchise.

That last one was the one that caught my attention. The one I loved the look of! I certainly wanted to be apart of this 5 year project! Bringing MLS football to my home City would be a dream come true. A dream that both Carl and Jeff shared with me.

That was enough to get me the role as FC Cincinnati’s first ever manager.


BigMaguire:FC Cincinnati's rise around the same time of a coach born in the city, almost as if its been scripted ;)
Scott:The MLS are continuing to expand which is very important for the league and the sport in the country. I believe the aim is to have 30 teams in the near future.
tenthreeleader: The insight means alot and the information about the Reds is very interesting and something i may look to include in future updates! Thank you for the kind words!
Justice: It will be interesting and hopefully the club will last longer than the cities former sides!
MLS Expansion is so important for the American game, and its cool that you get to be a part of it!
Hopefully Paul can land the job. It seems talks went according to plan and he is in pole-position to do so.

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