FC Cincinnati win USL regular-season championship ahead of 2019 MLS entry

FC Cincinnati made sure their final season in USL was a memorable one.

The 2019 MLS expansion debutants clinched the USL regular-season championship on Wednesday night, waiting out an hour-plus weather delay in the second half to defeat the Richmond Kickers 4-1 at City Stadium in Richmond on the strength of a brace from Emmanuel Ledesma and goals by Nazmi Albadawi and Emery Welshman.

Cincy's record now stands at 22-3-6 with three games remaining; they will seek to win USL Cup when the league’s playoffs kick off on the weekend of Oct. 20. They’ve already set a variety of USL records this year, including modern-era single-season highs in wins (22) and points (72), both eclipsing marks set by the 2016 New York Red Bulls II, who went on to win that year’s league championship.

FCC marked Wednesday’s achievement with champagne- and beer-soaked postgame celebrations in their locker room and will commemorate the milestone with their fans at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, as Indy Eleven visit for Cincinnati’s final regular-season home game.

Awarded an MLS expansion slot in May, Cincy will move up next year and will continue to play at Nippert until their new, 21,000-seat soccer stadium in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood is completed.