FC Cincy In Race For MLS Slot

For my latest article on football from across the pond, I thought I’d feature a side that Palace will be familiar with having faced them in pre-season, FC Cincinnati.

The club was brought into existence when the ownership of the Cincinnati Kings headed by Jeff Berding, and the owner of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals Carl H Lindner III got together.

They named USA football legend, and former Sheffield Wednesday player John Harkes as head coach. Harkes had previously been linked with the failed North American Soccer League (NASL) club, Virginia Cavalry.

One of the things the club also did was sign players who had Major League Soccer (MLS) pedigree, like Omar Cummings, Jimmy McLaughlin, Austin Berry, and Kenny Walker. All very valuable signings for a young club, and with Harkes’ connections in the MLS, he will be bringing in talent from everywhere in the league.

The club plays matches on University of Cincinnati campus at Nippert Stadium. Like any new club in the States, their stated aim is to move up to the MLS. As has been hammered home many times online, there is no promotion or relegation in America. So they had to develop a plan where they were so good, attracted so many fans, that MLS had to grant them an expansion slot.

However, there are many steps that they have to take, before they can become part of the MLS. First, they get a stadium dedicated to football or at least have plans for one. Of course, the counter argument against that is New York City as they play in Yankees Stadium and do not look like they are getting their own stadium anytime soon.

Next they have to jump the queue for the next four spots. Ahead of them reportedly, are Sacramento Republic, St. Louis, San Diego, San Antonio, and Miami. Sacramento has been long thought of as the next MLS club after Los Angeles FC in two years. Their one hold up is that thy need their own stadium. They have the fans, the talent, and apparently a handshake deal to be in the league next. They are a new club, being only in their fifth year of existence. Their manager is Paul Buckle, the husband of NBC’s Rebecca Lowe, who currently is the host of the Premier League coverage here in the States.

I would say that Cincy is also behind St. Louis, because it’s been no secret that MLS has wanted St. Louis in their league for years. St. Louis is considered the city that invented and sustained football for years. The old NASL had a club there a couple times and the USA team that beat England in 1950? Most of it was from St. Louis.

Ten years ago during the first major expansion Jeff Cooper tried to launch a bid which failed. He tried that in the new NASL, and it failed. St. Louis SC, which the MLS group is called now, looks like it has a lot of heavy hitters in it, and a bunch of smart people.



Then there is David Beckham, and the Miami bid. Part of Beck’s contract to get him to play in the States was a cut rate entrance fee for an expansion team of his choosing. He’s been trying to put together a club in Miami for several years, and it’s at the point of joking among fans of other clubs. Every time we hear about another city being in the forefront of expansion, we wonder if Miami will ever get off the ground. The leadership of MLS is always pushing for Miami, and the fans are getting sick of it.

At the most FC Cincinnati, will be the next power in the US Soccer League (USL). While they are just coming off their first season, if they keep the upward moment that they have been gathering in the first year, they can be a force. In the eastern conference of USL, they have to contend with the Rochester Rhinos, one of the iconic lower league clubs in America.

The thing with football is that it’s a crazy game, and you never know quite what is going to happen.



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Stephen Brandt

Stephen Brandt

Stephen is a football writer from the States. He has hosted Yellowcard Podcast on Tuesday's for five years.This past November, he moved the podcast to Wednesday's. You can hear the pod on All In Sports Talk. His expertise is in Football History, and has written articles all over the world.

1 Comment

  1. Sean
    January 23, 2017 at 7:27 pm — Reply

    Minor Correction: Carl Lindner does not own the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Brown does.

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