FC Cincinnati made several headline-grabbing moves over the offseason, trying to boost their outlook after bottom-of-the-table finishes in both 2019 and 2020.
But it remains to be seen if acquiring those like forward Brenner and attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, most notably, will translate into on-field success as the Orange and Blue navigate their third season in MLS.
CEO and controlling owner Carl H. Lindner III addressed some of the concerns during a recent Cincinnati Enquirer story penned by Pat Brennan, setting a gauge for the club in 2021. His benchmark: win the majority of their games, then see what happens in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
"I would like to have a winning record at a minimum and then if the team gels well together, make the playoffs," Lindner said. "Those are reasonable goals as we’re continuing to construct a team that we’re proud of long-term. Again, it takes time to do that."
FC Cincinnati have begun with a 0W-1L-1D record, sullied by a 5-0 loss last weekend at New York City FC in which they allowed five set-piece goals. That’s not necessarily a rubber-stamp indicator of what’ll happen long-term, but it introduces reason for concern.
To reach Lindner’s goal of making the playoffs, FC Cincinnati will need to finish among the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference. Phrased another way, head coach Jaap Stam’s team will need to finish in the top half of the 14-team East field.
FC Cincinnati are also building toward a May 16 home-opener against Inter Miami CF, when they’ll officially debut TQL Stadium. First comes one more road match this Saturday at Orlando City SC (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), offering another data point in how their revamp – and significant financial investment, on and off the field – unfolds during year No. 3 in MLS.
“It's a little bit of a disadvantage starting on the road with three games, so, gosh we can pull a point away from a team that made it into the playoffs last year on their home opener, that’s not bad, so we’re happy with that,” Linder said. “So, we’re only two games into the season. Have patience. I’m excited by the ability to firm up our backline moving forward."
For more from Lindner, check out the entire Cincinnati Enquirer article here.