“Amazing,” said Hagglund on Thursday. “I'm immensely proud that there is an MLS team in [Cincinnati]. The organization there, to bring a pro team to Cincinnati, is awesome.”
For the native son, Cincinnati is a “great” soccer town.
“Soccer is the first organized sport that you do as a Cincinnati native,” explained Hagglund. “By the time you're 4, you better have been playing in some peewee leagues or something like that. A lot of good clubs, a lot of good people in those clubs, that care about the sport, the kids, and the families.”
The 25-year old defender initially had to leave his hometown to chase his dream. First as a teen, to play in Columbus Crew SC's youth system before attending Xavier College in Cincinnati. And then again to begin his professional career, selected 10th overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by TFC.
Hagglund believes Cincy’s MLS team will inspire the coming generations.
“To think of little boys and girls being able to see high-quality soccer, not having to travel all the way to Columbus to see that, is really exciting for me,” said Hagglund. “There is a lot of young talent in Cincinnati.
“And I'm excited for the city itself,” he added. “They've always supported the team; they're going to continue to do that.”
That support at Nippert Stadium has been emphatic throughout their three seasons in the USL, catching national attention. An average attendance of nearly 18,000 in their inaugural 2016 season has only increased, rising to over 24,000 midway through the current campaign.
Though busy winning championships with TFC, the goings-on back home have not escaped Hagglund's eye.
“I haven't been to a game, but I've seen it,” he said. “The stadium is rocking. Every game – midweek, rainy, whatever – people come out every week. It's awesome to see.”
And that first visit, whenever it may be, will “for sure” be circled on his calendar.
“I'll be proud to be there,” said Hagglund. “It'll be fun to have family and friends there; the people of Cincinnati. [Having grown up there], I feel I know all of them a little bit.”