Breaking Records and Making Dreams Come True
FC Cincinnati was officially born August 12th 2015 when Carl Linders III officially founded the club and opened its doors. Team President and General Manager Jeff Berding was hired in later on in August of that year and I was hired as the first manager of FC Cincinnati on December 1st 2015. With three key pieces in place, the main piece was still needed. A team. We had fixtures arranged for February 21st kicking of the clubs history away to Icelandic side KR Reykjavic, before our first league fixture away to Charleston Battery on March 26th 2016.
With just under four months before our competitive debut, an open trial was offered with hundreds of players turning out. Along with this we made a few deals and not before to long we had a squad. A roster of 26 players was finalized for that first season in 2016 and we would begin the clubs first ever pre season in a joyous mood. Joining the incoming players was some additional staff members which began making the club feel a lot more of just that….a club.
The first batch of players in FC Cincinnati's history
The focus was on younger players who’d be able to impact the league, big names would have been welcomed obviously, however, in playing in a league people in our home nation hadn’t even heard of, gaining worldwide superstars proved a tad too difficult. But it didn’t matter.
A promising pre season in which we saw three wins and two draws in our five pre-season games, even defeating MLS side New York City FC 2-1, gave us confidence going into the season. Our first competitive match ended as an unfortunate 1-0 loss away from home. However, the clubs first home game was one of many record breaking moments we had in our inaugural season.
Louisville City FC visited us in our long awaited first ever competitive home game on April 16th 2016. Despite a 3-2 loss, the day will forever be remembered, an insane attendance of 20,497 spectators took to the stands at Nippert Stadium breaking a USL record. For a second tier side, in any division throughout the world this was a massive amount of people, even more so for a club playing in just its fourth competitive fixture.
The support from the word go was extraordinary. For a city and state which had so much love towards ‘true American sports’ such as American Football and Baseball, we were blown away. But the record continued to break. May 14th 2016 saw 23,375 in attendance for our game against Pittsburgh Riverhounds. This was then broken when 24,376 attended our fixture against Orlando B on September 17th 2016, before our first ever playoff match on October 2nd 2016 saw 30,187 people in the 40,000 seater stadium.
Despite losing the match 2-1, the attendance broke the playoff and single game attendance record, a feat we are unbelievably proud of. This wasn’t the first time we broke 30,000 spectators though as in July we hosted a friendly against Crystal Palace in which 35,061 attended breaking the record in Ohio. This meant we were selling more tickets than an MLS club. Those who were looking at those stats for the first time would be mistaken to believe it was just the first season and people soon faded, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Records continued to break and we would continuously sell out 25,000+ tickets for our games.
This allowed us to tick off aim number four on our initial five year plan, yet it was achieved inside two years. We had done everything we wanted to achieve all the way through so far, whilst doing it at a pace we couldn’t of even imagined! The city was going football mad, attendances were being seen that was thousands over what the league had seen before. The team were also doing well, finishing in the playoffs in our first two seasons and the club were at a high.
But it was about to get even better.
Our loss to Louisville City FC on May 26th 2018 was made to feel irrelevant when later that day it was announced that FC Cincinnati would become an official expansion side and join the MLS in 2019.
The day had finally arrived, we had done it. Carl, Jeff and I’s Five Year Plan was accomplished in just 3 years time!
FC Cincinnati were an MLS team.
BigMaguire: Yes, the expansion is of major importance to the continued growth and it will be great to be apart of it.
Scott:Talks went very well! Lets see what Paul can do with the team!