It’s year three in MLS for FC Cincinnati and, heading into a new stadium, they’re taking big swings to change fortunes from their first two seasons.

Cincy have endured a pair of back-to-back last place finishes but were among the busiest teams this winter, adding two Designated Players as Jaap Stam prepares for his first full season in charge.

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2020 season

  • MLS Reg. Season: 14th place in Eastern Conference (16 pts - 0.70 PPG - 4-15-4, -24 GD)
  • Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: DNQ

Star Players

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Luciano Acosta
Midfielder · FC Cincinnati

After a year away, Luchomania is back in MLS. Cincy signed the former D.C. United star to be their creative force in attack. Acosta’s chief duties will be to make life easier for the next two players on this list.

Brenner
Forward · FC Cincinnati

Acquired from Sao Paulo for a reported $13 million, a ton of intrigue follows the Brazil youth international forward as he prepares for his first season in MLS

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Jürgen Locadia
Forward · FC Cincinnati

Last year, Locadia’s signing was celebrated the same way Brenner’s is now, but things couldn’t have gone much worse for the on-loan Brighton forward in his first season in MLS. He scored just once in 17 games and his future is in doubt, with his loan expiring in the summer. Can he put it together and stick around on a permanent basis?

Young Player to Watch

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Frankie Amaya
Midfielder · FC Cincinnati

Amaya was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 SuperDraft and has been one of the few on-field bright spots for FCC over the last two years. He expects to be a constant starter in Cincy’s midfield once again in 2021.

Key Acquisitions

  • Luciano Acosta: Acosta’s time with Atlas in Liga MX didn’t go quite to plan and his final season in MLS wasn’t his best, either. Cincy are hopeful he’ll show his 2018 form, when he was named to MLS Best XI after scoring 10 goals and adding 17 assists.
  • Brenner: Brenner went from teenage hot prospect to a true, consistent breakout year in the Brazilian top tier with 11 goals and three assists in 27 matches before signing with Cincy. He was the starting center forward with the Brazilian U-17 and U-20 teams.
  • Ronald Matarrita: The former NYCFC stalwart, Matarrita was acquired for $500,000 GAM this winter. A modern attacking fullback, he’s an experienced MLSer and will be the club’s first choice at left back.

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Key Departures

  • Kendall Waston: Cincy’s first captain, the Costa Rican center back made 42 appearances over the club’s first two seasons. His contract option was declined this winter and he has since signed with Saprissa.
  • Andrew Gutman: Gutman spent a year and a half on loan from Celtic, largely as the team’s starting left back. Gutman will remain in MLS as Atlanta United eventually acquired him from Celtic and loaned him to the New York Red Bulls for the year.

Projected Starting XI

cincinnati projected xi

2021 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (4): Cody Cropper, Ben Lundt, Beckham Sunderland, Przemyslaw Tyton
  • Defenders (6): Saad Abdul-Salaam, Zico Bailey, Nick Hagglund, Ronald Matarrita, Tom Pettersson, Maikel van der Werff
  • Midfielders (10): Luciano Acosta, Frankie Amaya, Alvaro Barreal, Allan Cruz, Joe Gyau, Yuya Kubo, Haris Medunjanin, Ben Mines, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Caleb Stanko
  • Forwards (6): Isaac Atanga, Brenner, Calvin Harris, Jurgen Locadia, Franko Kovacevic, Brandon Vazquez

Armchair Analyst's Breakdown

Strength: In theory it should be the attack, given the arrivals of Lucho and Brenner and the presence of a couple other DPs. But it’s hard to say the attack is the strength of a team that scored just 12 goals all of last season.

Weakness: Every aspect of the team has been Cincy’s weakness through their first two seasons. They haven’t done a single thing at even a league-average rate, and it’s hard to have faith that they will reverse that in Year 3 despite another high-spending winter window. That’s just the way it’s gone in their MLS existence thus far.

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Predictions

  • Charles Boehm: 8th in East
  • Tom Bogert: 12th in East
  • Susannah Collins: 13th in East
  • Charlie Davies: 12th in East
  • Matthew Doyle: 13th in East
  • Sam Jones: 12th in East
  • Michael Lahoud: 10th in East
  • Joe Lowery: 12th in East
  • Jillian Sakovits: 14th in East
  • Greg Seltzer: 14th in East
  • Steve Zakuani: 14th in East

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