2020 Season Preview: FC Cincinnati

There's nowhere to go but up for FC Cincinnati after a league-worst record in 2019... and there's plenty of optimism based on a busy offseason that has injected serious talent into last year's punchless attacking corps.

However, the team will have to navigate the departure of head coach Ron Jans just two weeks before the start of the season. Yoann Damet, who led the club as an interim in 2019, will look to keep preparations on course while a search for a new head coach begins. That selection will fall to GM Gerard Nijkamp, who has been plenty busy as is on the player recruitment front since his hiring last summer. 

With a brand new stadium on the horizon in 2021, the club is hoping that 2020 provides an exciting buildup for its incredibly loyal fan base which ranked third in MLS attendance in 2019. To do that, they'll need to show some real progress on the field and perhaps even contend for that final playoff spot in the East.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 24 points (6W-22L-6D), 12th in East / 24th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Rd. of 16 (vs. Saint Louis FC)

Star players

  • Allan Cruz — The Costa Rican was the revelation of 2019 for FC Cincinnati and, surprisingly, the club's top scorer. His energy, work rate and technical ability make him one of the top two-way midfielders in MLS.
  • Jurgen Locadia — The Dutchman is the prize catch of FC Cincinnati's offseason haul. A top European goal-scoring prospect with PSV Eindhoven, he struggled to find his footing in England after a big-money transfer. FCC will hope to get him back on track, in which case they'd trigger the purchase option on his contract in June.
  • Yuya Kubo — Another big part of Cincy's attacking makeover in 2020, Kubo's attacking versatility allows him to play anywhere across the attacking front. At 26, the Japanese international already has several years of experience in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland and will slot in as a starter in 2020.

Extratime Analysis: FC Cincinnati

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Haris Medunjanin — A key member of the Philadelphia Union in recent seasons, Medunjanin's vision, passing and cultured left foot will bring an instant playmaking boost to FCC's midfield. 
  • IN: Siem de Jong — The experienced attacking midfielder is coming off a couple injury-riddled seasons but has shown the ability to be a top player in MLS.
  • IN: Adrien Regattin — Overshadowed by the acquisitions of Locadia and Kubo, the experienced Regattin projects to be a big part of the new Cincy attacking trident. 
  • OUT: Fanendo Adi — The big money Designated Player was supposed to be the club's centerpiece forward in their 2019 expansion season. But after scoring just 1 goal in a mere 12 appearances, Cincy was content to buy out Adi's guaranteed contract. They'll see him soon enough, however, in the Hell is Real derby after he joined the Columbus Crew.
  • OUT: Leonardo Bertone — He will always be remembered for scoring the first MLS goal in Cincinnati history (and it was a beauty), but he never turned into the impact player the club needed in central midfield.  
  • OUT: Roland Lamah — The speedy winger was always fun to watch, but he just couldn't replicate the attacking production he generated with FC Dallas. 

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Bobby Edwards, Spencer Richey, Przemyslaw Tyton
  • Defenders (10): Saad Abdul-Salaam, Zico Bailey, Mathieu Deplagne, Greg Garza, Andrew Gutman, Nick Hagglund, Hassan Ndam, Tom Pettersson, Maikel van der Werff, Kendall Waston
  • Midfielders (11): Fatai Alashe, Frankie Amaya, Allan Cruz, Siem de Jong, Joe Gyau, Tommy McCabe, Jimmy McLaughlin, Haris Medunjanin, Rey Ortiz, Adrien Regattin, Caleb Stanko
  • Forwards (6): Rashawn Dally, Yuya Kubo, Jurgen Locadia, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks, Brandon Vazquez

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: After a miserable first year they’ve padded out their spine with veterans who have legitimate on-field knowhow, which should provide a major boost. So should the acquisition of two DPs, one of whom – Dutchman Jurgen Locadia, who will probably be the team’s center forward this year – was a $20 million transfer just two years ago.
  • Weakness: Even after all their acquisitions they’re still probably at an overall talent deficit most games, and are definitely going to be at an on-field-chemistry deficit given how many new faces are expected to play major roles in 2020. Of course, given how 2019 went, maybe that’s not a bad thing…

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 11th in East
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 10th in East
  • Calen Carr: 13th in East
  • Charlie Davies: 12th in East
  • Matt Doyle: 11th in East
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 12th in East
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 12th in East
Series: