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Paul King - Becoming Royalty

Started on 10 June 2019 by TheLFCFan
Latest Reply on 2 October 2019 by ScottT
What a way to seal a Playoff spot. Cincy knocked Kansas out of the park. Gressel and Aribo having an incredible match too. Let's see if Cincy can keep the momentum going in the playoff Quarter Finals! :D
Good to see you Nip(pert) that playoff spot. I believe you Kan(sas) win the whole lot now.
The King remains on his throne for the post season! Great achievement despite that unfortunate loss to Columbus. Always good to see Haribo on the scoresheet.
Bow down to the King! A performance worthy of royal acclaim. ;)
Congratulations on securing that playoff spot. I’d like to see you get Philiy then face Crews later on in the competition.

The First Piece of Silverware

“Wilson has cleared it away...and that’s it...FC Cincinnati are your 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions.”

Words that will forever be remembered by everyone associated with this Football club. CHAMPIONS.

For the first time in our, short, history, we had added a piece of silverware to our trophy cabinet. It certainly isn’t the most prestigious award in world football, but that doesn’t matter to us. We had done it. From day one myself, Carl Linder and Jeff Berding had set out to win trophies, and we had secured our first in our first year in Major League Soccer.

Our run started back in May in the 2nd round, facing Tormenta FC, winning 2-0 away from home. The South Georgia team, never stood a chance and goals from David Cooper and Pa Konate ensured our victory and progression into the next round.

In that next round we welcomed a former USL foe in Charleston FC. A club we had face numerous times before gave us a very tough battle. However, David Cooper scored his second in the competition to give us the win. Again pitting us against a side we had faced many times before in Phoenix.

In what turned out to be our toughest game, Phoenix took us all the way to extra-time in a game we really should of ended much earlier. Emmanuel Ledesma equalised in the 35th minute having previously seen the side go behind five minutes earlier. David Cooper once again scored in the Cup and put us ahead before they equalised with very little left in the game. Thankfully David was once again our saviour, scoring the winner in the 93rd minute.

We then faced Major League Soccer opponents, Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union, for the first time in the cup, in the 5th round and quarter-finals, winning both games 1-0. Emmanuel Ledesma and Brian Black scoring the goals that sent us into our second ever U.S. Cup semi-final against Houston Dynamo.

Having previously made the semi-finals in 2017 against New York Red Bulls, losing the game, we wanted to make it right. That plan didn’t get off to the best start, as they went ahead within 11 minutes. But one of our stars of the season and current tied top scorer Julian Gressel bagging a brace. His goals in the 27th and 53rd minutes putting us in front in the semi. To cap it off, our number one pick in the draft, Brian Black, sealed the win with an 81st minute strike.

San Jose Earthquakes was the other side to make it to the final, beating Fresno, LAFC, Oklahoma City and Real Salt Lake, having started in the 4th round. San Jose, like us had recently qualified for the playoffs and sat in 5th in the Western Conference. However, they were in a sticky patch of form coming in to the game. Having only won once in their last five, we felt confident going into the game.

We had a busy few days before the final itself, having to travel back from Canada following our 1-1 draw with Toronto FC in the MLS. A couple of days training and then we were off on our travels again. The almost seven hour flight gave us our first real bit of rest for a while and that certainly helped.

However, the moment we stepped off the plane it was straight to the hotel and back onto the pitch for our final preparations. Kick off was set for 9pm on Wednesday and as me and my team finally wrapped up our day at 2am that morning, having gone through every minute detail. It was clear that their main threat was going to be on loan winger Cristian Espinoza, the clubs Argentine winger. Having played the season on loan from Spanish club Villarreal, Espinoza has 12 assists to his name this season in all competitions, with half coming in this competition, the U.S. Open Cup. It was clear if we could keep him quiet we had a good chance of coming out on top.

After a night of restless sleep, with all potential scenarios flying through my head, I got up for breakfast at 6:30am. Throughout breakfast I read the newspaper laying on the table focused on the sports pages. A lot of people in Sports avoid newspapers and the media like the black plague, to ensure they don’t focus on what others are saying about them. But for me, it gave me motivation. At the start of the season, everyone had said that we wouldn’t amount to anything and we would be sat bottom of the table all year. Well we proved them wrong, not being outside of the top five all season, let alone leaving the playoff spots. The press had also claimed I would be out of a job within six months with the step up being way to much for me. Again this had only motivated me. I wanted to see in tomorrow's press, journalists who had ridiculed me and my squad and almost laughed at us, having to print “Cincinnati Claim U.S. Open Cup”.

With the aim set and feeling as motivated and determined as ever, we had arranged for a meeting at midday. Again we went through every piece of information we had on San Jose, focusing on who to target, who to be careful of and most importantly, how to stop Espinoza. It was also then when I announced my team.

Team For U.S. Open Cup Final.

GK. Przemyslaw Tyton
Rb. Alvas Powell
Cb. Kendall Watson
Cb. Danny Wilson
Lb. Jimmy Medranda

Dm. Leandro Bertone
Cm. Rasmus Schüller
Cm. Joe Aribo

AMR. Julian Gressel
AML. Emmanuel Ledesma

ST. Aron Jóhannsson

It was what I considered my strongest possible eleven. With Greg Garza going down injured late in the game against Toronto, it wasn’t a worth while risk to play him. Jimmy, who had been one of our starting midfielders throughout the year, is a natural left back and since he lost his place to Joe Aribo, he has seen his game time limited. However, we felt confident he would step up in the final when it mattered.

With what felt like weeks of waiting, we finally arrived at the stadium for 7:30pm. We had a travelling set of 900 fans to welcome us at the ground, for what had been a sell out. Somehow, the United States Soccer Federation, had decided to allocate us the 900 tickets, whilst the remaining 17,100 tickets were given to San Jose in their home ground. For a supposed ‘neutral’ event, it seemed like they had the initial advantage.

It didn’t matter though. We were dominant from the off. Espinoza wasn’t getting a kick and was later substituted after a howler of a game with most papers giving him an average of 6/10 in the following days papers, which was probably kind.

It took us 25 minutes to open the scoring, with our German winger, Julian Gressel finding the back of the net. Joe Aribo slipped through a brilliant pass for Aron, who one on one with the keeper was expected to score. However, a great save from the San Jose stopper, fell into the path of Julian who easily tapped home.

Advantage us.

That advantage was then added to. A Julian Gressel throw in was flicked on by Aron Jóhannsson, into the feet of Rasmus Schüller. The Finnish Center-mid, coolly collected the ball before sliding it into the far corner of the net, doubling our lead.

Joe Aribo, our standout signing of the season, then tripled our lead in the 55th minute sealing the game, and the competition for us. Another Julian Gressel pass, found Joe in space in the box one on one with the goalkeeper. Again Andrew Tarbell made the initial save, the American certainly kept the scoreline light for his side, but it fell straight back to Joe who made no mistake the second time around.

We continued to knock the ball around nicely with half an hour to play, never giving San Jose a chance. Then “Wilson has cleared it away...and that’s it...FC Cincinnati are your 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions.” We had done it. We were champions. Our first piece of silverware as a club.

Despite the historic win, we kept the celebrations to a minimum. With the Final coming mid-week and a few days before an important game against Real Salt Lake, we had no time to enjoy ourselves. It is a shame, but we will celebrate once our season is over.

Not only is this history for the club as it becomes our first piece of silverware,in winning the U.S. Open Cup, we also qualify for our first ever CONCAF Champions League. It is going to be a further test of this clubs abilities and my excitement of being here builds daily.

“Our opponents know we will fight them toe to toe
Whether win or lose, we're forever Orange and Blue” - The Bailey


Jim: Well the Quarters came and went, turns out we did alright ;)
Justice:Surprised it took you that long to use the Nippert pun. Only time will tell!
Jack:Everyone loves Haribo! Incredible player!
Scott:It was a great win to seal a historic moment for the club!
SOA: That would be even sweeter. If we somehow both got to the Eastern Conference Final and a big 6-0 win to knock them out! ;)
Wow. Congratulations on a truly fantastic cup triumph! It gives Paul and the team a tremendous opportunity to compete in the CONACAF Champions League. Surely this was never in the script?!
The qualification for the CONCACAF Champions League! That's some achievement. And Julian Gressel and Joe Aribo seem to be players you rely on, and will need to keep at all costs. Nice one mate!
Continental football, what a great season Cincy are having! Always nice to see Joe Haribo bag a goal too ;)
First ever cup, continental qualification, and another chance for another trophy coming up. If you perform as well as you can, you'll surely win another one!
Congrats on the silverware and entry into the CONACAF Champions League.

Regular Season Review 2019

In a season where we have seen a new King crowned in Los Angeles in the Western Conference. Whilst the New York sides dominated the Eastern Conference, the league has also seen new-boys FC Cincinnati exceed expectations and finishing in a playoff spot.

The Teams Missing Out.

Western Conference

The regular season has thrown up many surprises throughout the year, starting on the opening day fixture. FC Cincinnati were ‘supposed’ to roll over for Major League Soccer’s most successful side, LA Galaxy. However, a 2-0 Cincinnati win saw a bad start to a terrible Galaxy season. Despite recovering slightly after their opening day loss, Galaxy went on a horrendous run of two wins in 17 games from June to October. The horror run saw them miss out on the playoffs for just the second time since 2008 as they finished 8th in the Western Conference.

Two more surprises in the Western Conference was Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers missing out, finishing 9th and 11th respectively. A poor run in May, saw MLS Cup winning manager Brian Schmetzer sacked and being replaced by Peter Vermes. Unfortunately for Seattle, it didn’t have the desired effect and they miss out, having won the MLS Cup as recently as 2016.

Portland also saw a managerial change as a run of just five wins in the opening 17 games was enough to see Giovanni Savarese sacked. David Wagner came in to the club but the former Huddersfield Town and Borussia Dortmund reserve manager, couldn’t change the teams fortunes.

The other two sides missing out on the playoffs in the Western Conference, was Minnesota United, who couldn’t improve on their 4th placed finish last season, as well as Colorado Rapids. With Minnesota finishing 10th and Colorado Rapids ending the season bottom of the Western Conference in 12th.

Eastern Conference

The other major shock of the year saw last seasons MLS Cup winners, Atlanta United miss out on the playoffs. An inconsistent start to the season saw the reigning champions sat in 7th in the Eastern Conference hanging on to a Play-Off spot. But that wasn’t enough for the owners, sacking Frank de Boer in July following a 1-0 loss to Columbus Crew. However, his replacement Avram Grant hasn’t managed to turn it around seeing just one win in 16 domestic games in his time at the club so far. That run has seen the side slip to 10th in the league missing out on Post-Season football by nine points.

The only other surprise in the Eastern Conference, was the poor performances from DC United, finishing 11th in the conference. Captained by Wayne Rooney, the side from the capital, could only manage eight wins all season, scoring a disappointing 26 goals all season. The lack of goals dearly cost DC as their defence was ranked within the top three out of the entire MLS.

Also missing out in the Eastern Conference, is Chicago Fire (8th), Orlando City (9th) and Montreal Impact (12th).

The Playoff sides.

Western Conference

Conference Position - 1st
Manager - Bob Bradley
Captain - Carlos Vela
Top Scorer - André Horta (10)
Top Assists - Carlos Vela
Player of the Season - André Horta

Building on their impressive debut season, Los Angeles FC went one better than 2018, as they finished top of the Western Conference. Having been runners up in their debut season last year, finishing behind rivals LA Galaxy, LAFC have this season shown their class in not just being the best side in LA but also in the west. Led by Head Coach Bob Bradley and captain Carlos Vela, they lost just nine games throughout the season whilst winning 16, ending with a record of 16-9-9. André Horta, a highly rated 22 year old from Portugal, impressed in his second year in the league scoring ten goals in the MLS, ending with 13 in all competitions. Finishing top of the Western Conference with goals scored, LAFC are certainly a team that will entertain.

San Jose Earthquakes
Conference Position - 4th
Manager - Matías Almeyda
Captain - Chris Wondolowski
Top Scorer - Magnus Eriksson (9)
Top Assists - Cristian Espinoza
Player of the Season - Cristian Espinoza

San Jose Earthquakes have had a much improved season after finishing 9th in the conference last season. Led by all time MLS leading scorer, Chris Wondolowski, with an incredible tally of 171 goals in his 14 year career, San Jose were predicted to finish within the bottom four of the supporters shield at the start of the season. However, on the back of some impressive performances throughout July and August, they have managed to claim their first playoff place since scraping in on wins in 2017.

Houston Dynamo
Conference Position - 5th
Manager - Wilmer Cabrera
Captain - Aljaz Struna
Top Scorer - Mauro Manotas (12)
Top Assists - Romell Quioto
Player of the Season - Tomás Martínez

Houston, are one of many sides to improve on their performances from last season, moving from 8th to 5th this year. With Romell Quioto leading his side in attack, with 10 goals and 11 assists, alongside Martínez, many have been impressed by Houstons performances. Having also made the Semi-Finals of the U.S. Open Cup, Houston will be looking to reach their first MLS Cup final since 2012, where they lost to LA Galaxy. The two time MLS Cup winners (2006 and 2007) will certainly be reliant on that front line of Romell Quioto and Tomás Martínez.

The Matchup Odds :

San Jose Earthquakes: (Fav) 6-4
Draw: 2-1
Houston Dynamo: 13-8

Vancouver Whitecaps

Conference Position - 2nd
Manager - Marc Dos Santos
Captain - Russell Teibert
Top Scorer - Fredy Montero (11)
Top Assists - Venuto
Player of the Season - Nuno Sequeira

Had it not been for five straight draws in Vancouver's last six games, it would of been them celebrating, winning the Western Conference instead of LAFC. However, it wasn’t to be and the side managed to still beat all expectations on them. The signing of Nuno Sequeira from Braga for $215,000 was a stroke of genius from the Canadian side as he helped lead them, with help from Fredy Montero and captain Russell Teibert to lead the conference for a large majority of the season. They will now be looking to prove they deserved to of topped the conference by getting to the MLS Cup final for the first time in their history.

Real Salt Lake

Conference Position - 7th
Manager - Freddy Juarez
Captain - Kyle Beckerman
Top Scorer - Joao Plata (20)
Top Assists - Joao Plata
Player of the Season - Joao Plata

It will come as no surprise to anyone that has followed Major League Soccer this year, that Joao Plata is the current favourite for the Landon Donovan Major League Soccer MVP award, following his stellar season. The Ecuadorian led the league in both goals (20) and assists (13) this season playing in Real Salt Lakes attack. Partnered by Sam Johnson, the duo led their side to 7th, just clinching a playoff spot, something they last achieved in 2014.

The Matchup Odds:

Vancouver Whitecaps:(Fav) Evens
Draw: 11-5
Real Salt Lake: 11-5

Eastern Conference

Conference Position - 1st
Manager - Domènec Torrent
Captain - Alexander Ring
Top Scorer - Jesús Medina (17)
Top Assists - Alexandru Mitriță
Player of the Season - Jesús Medina

New York City, have by far been the best team in the MLS this season, winning 21 games and losing just 8, leaving their record 21-5-8. Scoring a remarkable 65 goals throughout the regular season, Domènec Torrent’s side has dominated almost every side they have played. With top scorer Jesús Medina scoring 17, the side has been helped along the way by Rodolfo Zelaya (12) and Alexandru Mitriță (7), goals have certainly come easily for the New York side. With just two losses in their last 13 matches, New York City go into the Play-Off’s in great form. Having topped the Eastern Conference, New York go directly into the conference semifinals a luxury just them and LAFC share.

New York Red Bulls

Conference Position - 2nd
Manager - Chris Armas
Captain - Bradley Wright-Phillips
Top Scorer - Bradley Wright-Phillips (14)
Top Assists - Alejandro Romero Gamarra
Player of the Season - Daniel Royer

Had, New York Red Bulls managed to beat their rivals New York City, in the final regular game of the season they would have topped the Eastern Conference. However, a 1-0 loss consigned them to 2nd spot, three points adrift of New York City. Red Bulls have had a very successful season bouncing back from a couple of disappointing ones. Having finished 3rd last season and 6th the season before that, a 2nd place finish is what is expected from the fans as a minimum. Scoring 61 goals, and conceding just 35, Red Bulls go into the Playoffs with many expecting a New York derby in the Eastern Conference Final.

New England Revolution

Conference Position - 7th
Manager - Brad Friedel
Captain - Antonio Delamea
Top Scorer - Juan Agudelo (8)
Top Assists - Cristian Penilla
Player of the Season - Teal Bunbury

With Brad Friedel, one of the biggest names to come out of American Soccer having made a record 310 consecutive appearances in the premier league, New England Revolution have a man in charge with years of experience. Having previously managed the US under 19s side, this is Friedels first club role and he has ensured a second consecutive play-off spot. Led from the back by central defender Antonio Delamea, New England are big underdogs in the Eastern Conference play-offs and not many people are expecting them to get out of the first round. With a lack of goals being evident it is going to be a tough task to repeat last years Eastern Conference Final appearance.

The Matchup Odds:

New York Red Bulls (fav) 6-4
Draw 2-1
New England Revolution (13-8)

Toronto FC

Conference Position - 4th
Manager - Marcelo Bielsa
Captain - Michael Bradley
Top Scorer - Jozy Altidore (13)
Top Assists - Gerso Fernandes
Player of the Season - Gerso Fernandes

Having become the first Canadian side to lift the MLS Cup in 2017, Toronto were disappointed to miss out on play-off soccer last year. Finishing 4th this year sees them into the play-offs once again and being led by Marcelo Bielsa, former Argentina, Marseille and Leeds boss, they are one of the overall favourites to regain the MLS Cup. Alongside experienced manager Bielsa, on the pitch Toronto are led by 156 time capped American Michael Bradley. Bradley who has had spells across Europe will be key to any success that his side have in the play-offs and any opponents will need to do the utmost to stop him.

FC Cincinnati

Conference Position - 5th
Manager - Paul King
Captain - Kendall Watson
Top Scorer - Emmanuel Ledesma (8)
Top Assists - Emmanuel Ledesma
Player of the Season - Greg Garza

The MLS new boys have exceeded any and all expectations of them having made their MLS debut in a 2-0 win against LA Galaxy back in March. For a long while, Cincy led the Eastern Conference, but Paul Kings side suffered a poor run of results seeing them go ten games without a win in the league. However, coming off the back of a successful U.S. Open Cup win, Cincy will go into the play-offs full of confidence. Wingers Emmanuel Ledesma and Julian Gressel are going to prove important for the Ohio based side, whilst in the midfield Rasmus Schüller and new signing Joe Aribo have formed a strong partnership. No matter what, Cincinnati can be proud of their campaign and anything from here is a bonus for the debutants.

The Matchup Odds:

Toronto FC (fav) 4-5
Draw 2-1
FC Cincinnati 3-1

With the regular season now over, the post-season is set to be one full of excitement and intrigue with the expectations being a very entertaining few weeks of soccer.


Scott:I dont think even Paul would of honestly expected to be competing in the Champions League next season, it has been an incredible year and hopefully that can continue in the playoffs.
BigMaguire:Both have been very good, however, I wouldn't say they are relied on as we are very well rounded with the likes of Emmnauel Ledesma also performing well.
Jack:Joe Haribo playing continental football next season, is there anything better than that??
Jim:The playoffs will be tough. There are some very impressive teams there such as the New York pair and LAFC. However, this side has shown it has the potential to upset so nothing can be ruled out!
SOA:Thank you very much.
I really loved this update. How you explained every team's season was interesting to read. Good luck in the playoffs mate!
Toronto will be difficult to beat under the management of someone as experienced as Bielsa. On another note, Real Salt Lake look to be very reliant on one man, I have to say.
Tricky tie against Toronto, who i'm sure are overwhelming favourites, especially with Biesla at the helm. But i'm confident you'll find a way through. Goodluck.

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