New FC Cincinnati teammates Fanendo Adi and Kendall Waston agree on (at least) one thing: They're ecstatic to be playing together rather than lining up on opposite sides, rife with shoulder barges, jersey tugs and powerful aerial duels.
Both joined the league in 2014, instantly becoming stalwarts for their respective Cascadia clubs. Adi scored 54 goals across 126 appearances for the Portland Timbers, helping lead the club to an MLS Cup triumph in 2015, while Waston made 115 appearances for the Vancouver Whitecaps, captaining the side in his last two seasons north of the border.
"I've played against Adi, we used to have a lot of battles but now we're going to battle together," Waston said at MLS Media Day on Saturday. "I'm really excited for that. He's a great person and a great player as well."
Adi mirrored Waston's sentiment.
"He's a player that's going to help us a lot in defense, being a leader in the locker room as well as on the pitch," Adi said. "I played a few games against him, I know him to be a tough defender. He's very physical and aggressive, he can be the commander of defense for us. We're looking forward to the experience he'll bring to the back line."
Fanendo Adi and Kendall Waston battling in 2015 | USA Today Sports
Both players will have huge responsibilities in FC Cincy's inaugural MLS campaign, as Adi is expected to lead the attack and Waston the defense. They are two of the most MLS experienced members of a squad short on just that.
Their 2019 expectations are aligned as well, as neither believe that FC Cincy will simply be making up the numbers in the league this year.
"We don't want to join MLS just to be there and see what happens, we want to start a great year. Hopefully we can win from the beginning," Waston said before being asked what his 2019 goals were. "As a team? Getting in the playoffs and winning that trophy."
"The city is behind the club, the people love the club," Adi added. "We have a reputation of winning so now we just have to bring the same thing to the MLS level, try to work hard and make sure we give the fans what they want: winning games."
With a roster that pulls players in from their 2018 USL roster, players around the league as well as from abroad, the squad will need to coalesce quickly and form chemistry over the preseason.
"I'm proud to be able to come to the team as the first DP," Adi said. "Forever, this is going to be the history of the club. I'm very proud of that. ... We know it's going to be a tough year, we just have to come together, try to gel so when it comes to playing that first game, we'll be ready for the year. ... I think we're going to be able to pull off a lot of surprises."