FC Cincinnati had a quiet early offseason after a record setting first USL campaign in 2016. Most of the team’s headlines before the new year were about MLS expansion, and the move of USL MVP and Golden Boot Winner, Sean Okoli, to New York City FC. The Ohio club captured winger Kadeem Dacres from rival Louisville City in mid-December. The acquisition was a welcome holiday present for fans, but didn’t provide reinforcements on the scale that some expected.
FC Cincinnati Strengthens With Seven
The club’s recruiting machine began producing results after January 1st, announcing a series of new signings. On January 6th, the club presented three new players to the public. Holding midfielder Marco Dominguez joined from FC Montréal, not long after parent club Montréal Impact dissolved the USL outfit. FC Cincinnati also added central midfielder Aaron Walker and forward Andy Craven. Walker recently played in Iceland’s first division for BÍ/Bolungarvik and earned his spot through FC Cincinnati’s open tryouts. Craven was last with OKC Energy. The Georgia native was drafted by the Seattle Sounders in 2015 after a decorated college career at North Carolina. He didn’t make the Sounders squad initially, but eventually signed with the first team after impressing at Sounders 2. The first ever Sounders 2 goalscorer, Craven moved to OKC Energy in August of last year, and has now landed in Cincinnati.
One week after that three player splash, FC Cincinnati announced its headline signing of the offseason. Central midfielder Aodhan Quinn joined from Louisville City FC, where he was the team’s captain in 2016. When Cincinnati signed Dacres in December, it was a shot across Louisville City’s bow. It was a declaration of war to nab their captain, who was looking for more money than the Kentucky club wanted to spend. The Louisville Courier-Journal cites “rising costs” as being a key part in their decision to sell Quinn. This year’s derby games between these two sides will be a spectacle to behold.
The Queen City club didn’t stop there. The same week that they announced Quinn’s signing, two NASL veterans joined the Orange and Blue. FC Edmonton’s Daryl Fordyce joined after four years in the NASL. He made 96 appearances and scored 28 goals with the Canadian outfit, enough to make him their all time leading scorer. Fordyce is a native of Northern Ireland and was groomed as a youth player at the Portsmouth (England) academy. They also acquired hometown product Matt Bahner from the Jacksonville Armada. Bahner grew up in Cincinnati’s northern suburbs and played collegiately for the University of Cincinnati. Head coach John Harkes likes his positional flexibility. “He is an experienced, versatile defender who can be utilized in any position across our back four.”
Is More Firepower Still Coming?
The seven additions plus the re-signing of several players from their 2016 roster leaves FC Cincinnati with 27 total players, one more than last season’s total. They’ve signed a defender, three central midfielders, a winger, and two forwards. They’ve added talent, experience, and depth that was perhaps missing during the team’s first year campaign.
Sean Okoli’s departure left a clear goalscoring hole in the team. Craven and Fordyce add goals to the equation, but it’s not immediately clear if either can lead the line or how they factor in along with Cummings, Townsend, and Wiedeman. The rumor mill has been turning recently, and there’s speculation that FC Cincinnati is in the market to add even more firepower.
This may make sense in light of General Manager Jeff Berding’s lofty 62 goal target for the season. They already have a full stable of strikers, but are they enough to replace Okoli’s goals? Can the team really add 21 more goals than last season’s total? For that tally to be realistic, they may look to add a marquee striker to their list of 2017 recruits. Proven goalscoring talent is hard to lock down at any level though, especially at a level below the first division.
It should be noted that Okoli did not come to Cincinnati with gaudy goalscoring numbers. The coaching staff needs to identify their first choice number nine for this season, and continue the service that produced steady goalscoring last year. They also need more balanced and consistent production from the supporting offensive cast.
The USL regular season begins in less than two months. There’s time to add more one or two more players. A quality MLS castaway may be available as those teams look to finalize their 2017 rosters. FC Cincinnati’s season begins on March 25th when they visit the Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium.
Photo credit: Orange and Blue Press