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Paul King - Becoming Royalty

Started on 10 June 2019 by TheLFCFan
Latest Reply on 2 October 2019 by ScottT
With US soccer becoming a growing fixture in the nations sports calendar it is imperative that clubs build purpose-built facilities rather than using multi-purpose facilities which allows them to start from scratch with the latest trappings of training facilities which actually gives them an edge over the stagnating facilities built years ago by lots of other established clubs!

A Positive Pre-Season

FC Cincinnati’s first ever Pre-Season as a Major League Soccer side was what I would consider a success.

Pre-Season consisted of eight fixtures against some of Southern and Northern Americas biggest sides. Starting the fixtures of with a match against former Liga Postobon winners, Junior FC, we managed to salvage a 1-1 draw. Junior took the lead early through Columbian international Teófilo Gutiérrez. In a game we dominated, holding Junior to a single shot on target, we eventually equalised in the 71st minute. David Cooper our second overall in the Superdraft opened his account for the team with a classy finish from the edge of the area.

Next up was 2015 Copa Total Sudamericana, the second biggest club competition in South America, winners Independiente Santa Fe. We dominated from the word go. Having adapted our tactic off the back of game one, left winger Emmanuel Ledesma opened the scoring on the 33rd minute. A player I highlighted early on this season as a potential key player, Ledesma doubled his account just before the halftime whistle sounded. Clint Pollard, our right back drafted third in the second round, saw his cross rebound off Santa Fe defender Juan Roa, to extend our lead to three, putting the game out of reach. Santa Fe midfielder Brayan Perea managed to get a consolation for the away side but that was all the South American side could manage.

Delighted with our previous performance, we welcomed Canadian side Forge FC to the Nippert Stadium. Overall number one pick in the 2019 Superdraft, Brian Black, received his first start as a Cincinnati player and almost instantly repaid the faith. Grabbing the opening goal on the 8th minute, Black put away his chance with ease. Undrafted talent Dylon Powley grabbed a surprising equalizer on the 35th minute for the away side, however, the result was put to bed when Uruguay legend, Diego Forlán cooly slotted home a penalty. Diego joined the club back in September and has already demonstrated amazing leadership skills as he has taken young Brian Black under his tutorship.

After a good beginning to the Pre-Season at home, we made our way to Jamaica in the Caribbean. We began our tour in the capital city, Kingston, a city which has a population of just over 666,000, against second tier side Boy’s Town. In yet another game that we dominated, with 57% of possession and a total of 21 shots, we won the game 3-0. Rasmus Schüller, one of our expansion draft picks, opened the scoring in the 2nd minute. The Finnish international poached onto a rebound from the Boy’s Town goalkeeper to tap home to give us the early lead. David Cooper, who has been highly impressive since he became our second pick in the draft, grabbed a well deserved second in the 71st minute. The 22 year old right winger added his second goal of the Pre-Season and is making his case to become a starter in the side. Our final goal of the game came through 30 year old, twice capped American international, Eric Alexander. A victorious start to our tour was exactly what we were aiming for and I couldn't of been happier to get under way with a 3-0 win.

Our second match on tour came against top division side, Arnett Gardens, a side who won the Red Stripe Premier Division, Jamaicas top tier, as recently as 2017. The game was one we saw as a challenge and a challenge that we were relishing. A Leonardo Bertone freekick gave us the lead two minutes after half time before a penalty on the 83rd minute from Nigerian, Fanendo Adi sealed our win. A second win on tour was once again pleasing and we could certainly see the progress being made.

The final match on our tour of Jamaica came against another top division side in the form of Waterhouse. We kept the side from managing a single shot on target throughout the match and with an Emmanuel Ledesma strike gave us the victory. Ledesma has been phenomenal throughout Pre-Season scoring four goals in total and earning himself two player of the match awards.

After a successful tour, we made our way back home to face Texas side Nashville SC. Despite another dominant performance, we couldn’t take our chances with the biggest chance being missed from the penalty spot by Ledesma.

After a disappointing result, we got back to winning ways in a behind closed door match, winning against our Academy side. Goals from Emmanuel Ledesma, Rasmus Schüller, Jimmy Medranda and a Victor Ulloa penalty gifted us a 4-0 victory. The result was nice but not important, it was a final tune up to end of a very impressive Pre-Season.

Our transfer dealings consisted of two free transfers joining us in the form of right back Jonothan Spector and legendary striker Diego Forlán. The remaining deals were made through the Expansion Draft in which we selected Jimmy Medranda, Matt Turner, Danny Wilson, Rasmus Schüller and Julian Gressel to bolster the squad. These players are all going to play a role in the first team this year with the likes of Danny Wilson, Rasmus Schüller, Jimmy Medranda and Julian Gressel, all a part of the preferred eleven (at the moment). Whilst Matt Turner and our two free transfers, Jonathan Spector and Diego Forlán playing from the bench.

Then in the 2019 Superdraft we selected Brian Black, David Cooper, Josh Kim, Kevin Burpo, Gary Poole, Clint Pollard, René Pierre and Rory Lewis. With a total of 15 players joining the squad we are confident we have added a good amount of quality and potential with the right mix of youth and experience. The average age of the incomings totaled 25, something we will be aiming to lower in the future in order to further build a young side full of potential.

My Thoughts

I’m excited. We have performed well in Pre-Season and the boys are looking ready to go. They seem to have a glow about them with a burning desire to go out on to the pitch and beat anyone that is put in front of them. Galaxy will be a tough side, but the two day break will surely have an effect on them which plays excellently into our high intensity press. It is going to be a hard season, we are expected to finish as lowly as bottom. Nobody is backing us for the Playoffs, but that's my aim. If we can clinch that final playoff spot I will be delighted. A mid-table finish is acceptable, but to be able to go to the playoffs this quickly would be incredible.


Scott: It's important we build on and give ourselves the best chances of success early on. The training center is stunning and it will definitely help with any future successes. The stadium that is being built will also be a big boost to us as we currently rent Nippert and are seeing 10% of potential income going to the University of Cincinnati.
Jack: As I said in my reply to Scott, I think it is essential we have our own facilities and they will prove very important to us for any future success. Hopefully the new training ground is one stride into the right direction.
Certainly a lot of positives to take from a strong set of pre-season results, especially against sides such as Santa Fe. It puts you in good stead heading into the MLS season. Good luck!
TheLFCFan's avatar Group TheLFCFan
4 yearsEdited

The Night Before It All Begins

February 28th, the day before the biggest game of my life to date. Tomorrow, March 1st 2019, I will lead my side out against arguably America's biggest club, LA Galaxy. Having been one of the founding sides, Galaxy have won five MLS Cups since its first in 2002 and a staggering nine Western Conferences. Having had players such as Landon Donovan, Americas tied all time top scorer, former England captains in the form of David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, as well as former Irish captain Robbie Keane, all representing the side. Their current star and captain is also a well known player, the world over, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Zlatan, now aged 37 is still one of the most dangerous strikers in the world, let alone the league. After signing on a free transfer from English giants Manchester United last season, Zlatan scored 22 goals in 36 games with 11 assists in his debut season. The towering Swede who stands at 6”5, began his career at Swedish club Malmo, before playing for some of Europe's elite. Leaving Malmo in 2001, he played for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United. Making a total of 553 league appearances he has scored 341 goals and will clearly be the biggest threat tomorrow night.

Galaxy are one of ten founding members of the MLS, with nine of those clubs still competing today, after Tampa Bay Mutiny, dropped out in 2001. The Western COnference side, who were consistently in the top two Western Conference sides in the leagues first six seasons, only managed their first MLS Cup in 2002. Since then, LA Galaxy have won a total of five thanks to a large amount of investment from the clubs owner, Phillip Anschutz. Anschutz, was part of the group who convinced David Beckham to join the American side in 2007 after his move from Madrid, and with the legendary captain at the club, Galaxy won two MLS Cups in 2011 and 2012. Galaxy then won a league record fifth MLS Cup in 2014, which has subsequently been their last. Now with a talented cast of Zlatan and Giovanni Dos Santos, the club are looking to win another after Steven Gerrard was unable to help the club in hs 18 month spell.

LA Galaxy had a much shorter Pre-Season than ourselves as they beat Colorado Rapids (3-1), Portland 2 (3-0) and LA Galaxy II (3-0) whilst losing 4-0 to last seasons MLS Cup winners, Atlanta United. With all of their Pre-Season friendlies being away from home, LA did win their CONCAF Champions League first round match 9-1 on aggregate against CD Guastatoya, with Zlatan scoring a hatrick in their home leg. Having played the home leg on Wednesday just two days before our match, we will be looking to take advantage of any potential tiredness in their squad.

Having started our Pre-Season a lot earlier than Galaxy, playing four matches before they
played their first, we are in great shape going into the game. We also have the added benefit of playing at home. Our fans have always been incredible, something I have stated numerous times before. Attendances at USL games where consistently in and above the 20,000 mark and the amount of records we broke was incredible. We had averaged around 5,600 in Pre-Season, which for Pre-Season is very good.

I am already dreaming of the atmosphere that our fans will create. Orange and Blue flares filling the air, the fans singing our adopted anthem “Welcome Home” by Over-the-Rhine”. The players thrive on it, it’s an age old cliché that “the fans are the twelfth man” but in our case its true. Our support and the atmosphere we create, home and away, was imperative to our expansion bid. That’s why it is important that we perform for them now.

My team selection is but confirmed at this point. We have stuck with the same starting XI throughout the majority of Pre-Season with a few changes at times. Along with this, the tactic has remained largely the same. We are aiming to keep the ball as much as possible before pressing high and narrow in the aim of winning the ball back as quickly as possible when we do lose it. The side are seemingly becoming more and more familiar with the tactic, which is very pleasing to see. However, it will take a few competitive fixtures to truly reach the levels we want to be playing at consistently.

LA Galaxy are currently 5-4 favourites to win the game, which is exactly what we expected, as Galaxy are 3rd favourites to win the Supporters shield where as we sit 700-1 in 20th place. However, Galaxy will be without a number of players in the form of Jørgen Skjelvik, Perry Kitchen and Emmanuel Boateng. All three players played at least 20 games last season showing their importance to the opponent.

In a game that is going to be historic for numerous reasons, my single focus is to remember it as our first victory in the MLS.


Scott: It certainly does, the Santa Fe result gave me a lot of confidence going in to the season and hopefully that quality will be shown throughout the season.
LA Galaxy have certainly boasted of some high-profile signatures throughout the years, with Zlatan's arrival being just one of the them. He will certainly be a force to be reckoned with when you clash with the Galaxy. All the pressure is on your opponents, in my eyes.
If you can keep Zlatan quite, that would be a huge step in your favour. He is a player with permanent class and one you cant mess with!
LA Galaxy are far and beyond the most reputable side in America in my opinion after all the classy signings they have made over the years from Beckham and now onto Ibrahimovic. It will be hard to keep him quiet and I don't expect your team to be able to handle such a talent but it certainly is a great first fixture!

Incredible Scenes as Cincy Defeat Galaxy.

The crowd were in Full voice throughout the clubs debut win.

FC Cincinnati beat LA Galaxy in their debut Major League Soccer match, 2-0 in a dominant victory sending the Cincinnati supporters into ecstasy.

When the 2019 MLS fixtures were released just a few months ago, FC Cincinnati were paired with LA Galaxy in the opening fixture of the season. That game would also be FC Cincinnati’s first game in the MLS after they became the latest expansion side in the league. The Ohio based club went into the match as huge underdogs, after LA Galaxy were runners up in last years MLS Cup. But Cincy dominated from the off, holding the ball well and causing serious trouble to the Galaxy goal.

Julian Gressel, who scored the winner for Atlanta United in the MLS Cup final against LA Galaxy last season, opened FC Cincinnati’s account in the MLS. Left sided players Emmanuel Ledesma and Greg Garza linked up nicely on the left flank before Garza found Jimmy Medranda in the middle of the pitch. Medranda picked up the ball on the edge of the box and drove hard towards the penalty spot. With a couple of touches, the expansion draft pick, hit a low driving shot which struck the post. The ball was cleared, but only as far as Left back Greg Garza, who whipped in a curling cross towards Julian Gressel. Gressel took a single touch to control the ball before sliding the ball into the left hand corner.

As Cincinnati took their lead into half time, they looked calm and poised to continue their dominance on proceedings. That confidence was only increased when Rasmus Schüller added a second on the 63rd minute. Some quick passing between the Cincinnati players saw Schüller in space on the edge of the area. The Finnish international took very little time before striking the ball sweetly into the far right hand corner past a helpless David Bingham in goal.

The goal capped off a magnificent performance from the latest MLS expansion side as they cruised home with the two goal margin. The Orange and Blue manager, Paul King admitted that LA Galaxy playing just a few days before could of had an impact on the game when asked:

“Of course their game on Wednesday would of had some impact on the game, naturally they would be more tired than us. However, they had won the first leg 6-1 away from home, they very easily could of rested their key players on Wednesday night, but perhaps they thought we would be the easier game. I was delighted with how my boys took the game to them from the word go. Even if they were tired, we still did everything right. We pressed them hard and didn’t give them a moments room. We also kept the ball nicely and created some great chances of which we converted.”

However, LA manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto played down the impact of his side midweek match.

“We have nothing to blame but ourselves. We were simply not good enough and were beaten by the team who wanted it so much more. Credit to Paul King and his side as they deserve every moment.”

Clearly happy with the way his team had played, King also appreciated the support his team received

“The supporters have always shown there willingness to come out and support us. We broke records in the USL with the attendances we achieved and we have once again shown that our fans are up there with the best in the world. I believe over 22,000 were here tonight and thats on a friday night at a 7:30pm kick off. Not everyone would of been able to get away from work and make the game so we are delighted with the amount of fans that came out in support for us. Thankfully we have given them a great result to match and we have kicked off our time in the MLS in the best way possible.”

The support that Cincinnati received in tonight's game will be missing in the upcoming fixtures for Kings side as they go on a three game road trip. With Cincinnati set to face Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids, within the next fortnight, King will be hoping for similar performances to the one he got tonight.


Scott:The pressure was certainly on them and they seemed to crumble. We played very well and our pressing game played out perfectly against their tired team.
BigMaguire:We certainly managed to keep him quiet and limited his chances to do anything and that helped us to the massive win!
Jack:They were one of the first clubs to really make a splash and move MLS into more of a mainstream light. I certainly wasn't expecting to take anything from the game but I am delighted we managed the seemingly 'impossible'.
Wow what a win! That's insane going. Hope to see more of these sorts of results
An excellent victory to open up a new chapter for the football club!
How... Even...

I beg that King went up to Zlatan after the game and shouted "WHO IS THE KING NOW?"
TheLFCFan's avatar Group TheLFCFan
4 yearsEdited

30 Minutes with: Brian Black

Brian Black, was selected as our number one pick in the 2019 MLS Superdraft becoming our first official MLS draftee. Since then, Brian has started in our first two Major League Soccer games after impressing manager, Paul King in Pre-Season. Brian was named as Player of the Match in our match against Seattle Sounders as he created two and scored two in our 4-1 away win. In today’s edition of “30 Minutes with:” we will be sitting down with the young striker to discuss being a Cincy player, his plans for the future and much more.

Welcome Brian, we are glad to be speaking with you today after your incredible performance yesterday afternoon.

Thank you, it is great to be here, yesterday was a great game and I am delighted to be able to have played such a key role in a great team win.

You certainly did play a key role. But lets start from the beginning, and at Grand Prairie Highschool. You had attended the school for many years and in 2015 led the side to the regional semi finals in the State Championship before being unfortunately beaten by Sam Housten. What can you tell us about that run, and how it has shaped your career so far?

The State Championship run was seen as a miracle from many people. We were the lowest seed going into the tournament but we played magnificently throughout. Our games were all high scoring and certainly entertaining, we won our first three matches scoring three in each game. The semi final was upsetting especially since it was my last high school game and I felt one more year and we could have gone even further but it wasn’t to be. It’s helped me grow and learn from the disappointment and I have certainly become a better player and man from it.

As you said, your side had some very high scoring matches scoring eleven goals in four matches. You scored an incredible nine of the eleven, was that the moment you knew you could make it to the MLS?

Scoring nine goals in the four games was certainly one of my biggest achievements. I’m not sure if It was a set moment where I believed I could make it, there were many moments throughout my life from a young age when I thought I had a chance. But I only knew the moment the commissioner announced I was the number one pick.

We will get to that moment in a second, but first, You spent a few years after High school playing for Texas United. How much did you enjoy your time there?

It was very enjoyable, playing in my home state and city for the professional side was a dream come true. Head Coach Arez Ardalani was an excellent coach for me and he helped me believe I could make it to the MLS at times when I didn’t.

At what point did you decide it was the right time to declare for the Superdraft?

I had been playing well for a year or two starting every game for the team and scoring a lot of goals. Coach Ardalani spoke to me at the start of this season and told me I should go for it and after my strong start I agreed.

You mentioned the strong start you had to the season, you scored four and assisted four in your eight games before joint Cincy. How important was that for you before the draft?

As I said, the strong start gave me the belief that I was ready for the step up and if I hadn’t started well chances are I wouldn’t be here today. It also allowed me to show everyone what I could do and I am very happy Coach King and the directors decided I was the right man for the number one pick.

So let’s go to that night. What was going through your head throughout the day and the moments before you were picked?

In all honesty I had no thoughts about being picked number one. I know I was rated highly on the draft boards but I couldn’t believe it would actually happen. I think I sat just behind Bob in the second place on most draft boards but Coach King must of seen something in me. My thoughts were mainly about making it to the league and knowing I’d do whatever I can to help the side that showed faith in me win soccer games. I was shocked when I was named number one and delighted to be representing FC Cincinnati.

Pre-Season, you weren’t seemingly Coach, Paul Kings, number one choice as he started with Diego Forlán in the first two games. But after your performance against Forge, you have started every game since including the first two league games. How has it felt to be given the responsibility so soon in your MLS debut season?

Diego (Forlán) is a legend of the game. I think he made his pro debut the year I was born and was playing for Manchester United when I was 5, having him at the club is amazing for me. He has taken me under his wing from the word go and has helped me tremendously. Starting over him is honestly crazy to me but he said I deserve it as did Coach King. I am very pleased with my start, especially in yesterday’s game against Seattle.

Yesterday was an incredible match for yourself, Do you see that as your welcome to the league and announcing what you can do?

I guess so. Scoring twice and assisting twice is a good achievement and I am happy to have produced it this early on. Now I need to ensure that I continue to produce at the same level and higher as that is what the fans will be expecting now. I am just very happy to be helping this club to victories in the MLS.

What do you see happening in the future for yourself and the club?

Well it may sound a bit cliché but I want to take everything one game at a time. Getting ahead of ourselves after two wins won’t do anything positive for us so we will be focusing on the immediate future and nothing else. The team is gelling well and we are getting along nicely. I am sure we can continue to produce and hopefully we can make the fans happy.

Thank you Brian, with more performances like yesterday, we are sure you’ll be keeping the Orange and Blue faithful happy.

Watch Brian play in our next match against San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday (13th March 2019) and see if we can continue our winning start to the league campaign.


BigMaguire: So do I, it was a great win to start us off, now its about continuing it!
Scott: Indeed it was, a great performance against one of the best sides in the country!
Jack: I wish I knew myself! I thought we would be welcomed with a nice beating to start but we pulled it off and then followed it up with a 4-1 away win against Seattle!

I like to think he did too ;)
An excellent way to introduce the no. 1 pick. Hopefully his words can be emulated on the pitch and Cincy can do well
It's good to see an experienced player like Forlan take an inexperienced player like Black under his wing and act as a mentor. He's a young player with plenty of time to improve, yet has enjoyed a good start to the season, to say the very least. He could be an important player in the years to come.
Cinci appear to be more than out of this world, they're out of this Galaxy with that win! ;)

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