MILFORD, Ohio – FC Cincinnati unveiled their shiny new Mercy Health Training Facility on Wednesday, and all eyes are on a promising future.
After finishing their inaugural season in MLS in last place and setting a league record for most goals conceded in a season, the club has put renewed focus on a "rebirth" of sorts, with the new training facility leading the charge. The message was loud and clear within the state-of-the-art confines: FC Cincinnati aren't just happy to be members of MLS, they want to be the best.
The facility takes cues from clubs all over the world, ranging from European giants Chelsea and Tottenham, to standard-bearers in MLS like LAFC and Atlanta United. But there was another influence – the fans. In the hallway leading to the training pitch, there's an etched silhouette of FC's supporter section, the Bailey.
"When we designed this facility, the number one factor I wanted was to have the players every day when they walk out, know who they were playing for. The reason we're here is because of our supporters," said director of soccer operations Dan McNally at the unveiling.
Given the short lead time to launching in MLS, McNally acknowledged the lack of a permanent training facility was a factor in a difficult debut campaign for the club.
"There were so many different crazy situations to deal with, and it symbolizes how far we've come in a short period of time. We've been all over the city; our guys have been at school gyms working out, catering companies rushing to drop stuff off, guys having to walk through construction to training. It's a difficult environment. Now, we have everything we need to be successful," he said.
"It's impossible to explain how challenging it was. This will change everything for us. We're on the cutting edge now. One of the challenges we had our first year was getting used to the MLS schedule. The intensity of the games, the travel. This facility will help us have our players ready to perform better," McNally added.
Commissioner Don Garber, in attendance for the ceremony, agreed that the training ground situation had an impact on the club's 2019 performance.
"I give the club credit for taking it on the chin and getting the team up in time to balance our schedule," he said. "They didn't have the amount of time that LAFC and Atlanta United had to put a team on the ground. This will be a great calling card for the players coming in."
FC Cincinnati CEO and majority owner Carl Lindner III believes the facility sends a message to the soccer world that FCC's record last year was not indicative of the club's future ambitions.
"With this, we align ourselves with the elite clubs in North America," Lindner commented. "It's one of the top training facilities on the continent. Simply put, it's as good as it gets for our players. The world's talent will take notice at what we've done here, and will want to be a part of the movement."