FC Cincinnati

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FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati blue on orange shield.svg
Full name Futbol Club Cincinnati[1]
Nickname(s) Orange and Blue
Founded August 12, 2015; 3 years ago (2015-08-12)
Stadium Nippert Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio
Capacity 33,800[2]
Owner Carl H. Lindner III
General manager Jeff Berding
Head coach Alan Koch
League United Soccer League
2017 6th, Eastern Conference
Playoffs: Conference Quarterfinals
Website Club website
Current season

FC Cincinnati is a United Soccer League (USL) club based in Cincinnati, Ohio that began play in 2016. The team was announced on August 12, 2015. The club's ownership group is led by Carl H. Lindner III. Alan Koch is its coach.

On May 29, 2018, Major League Soccer awarded an expansion team to the FC Cincinnati ownership group. The MLS team is to begin play under the FC Cincinnati name in 2019 and move into a new stadium in 2021.


In May 2015, rumors of a new USL club in Cincinnati were reported by the media. There was speculation[3] regarding the relationship the team would have with the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as a former Cincinnati soccer club, the Cincinnati Kings, as Jeff Berding was named as part of the ownership group.[4] Berding was employed by the Bengals and on the board of the youth soccer club Kings-Hammer FC.[5] The Lindner family, of American Financial Group which is headquartered in Cincinnati, was reported as the owner of the new team with Carl Lindner III representing the owners at the press conference.[6]

Then on August 12, 2015, FC Cincinnati announced that John Harkes would coach the new club and that the club would play in Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.[7]

General manager Jeff Berding talks about FC Cincinnati's inaugural season.

On April 16, 2016, FC Cincinnati broke the USL attendance record for a game, with 20,497 in attendance for the rivalry game against Louisville City FC, and, on May 14, against another rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds, broke its own record with 23,375 in attendance.[8] On September 17, 2016, the team broke the USL record again, when they drew 24,376 for their game against Orlando City B. The team broke its own USL record once again on August 5, 2017, when they drew 25,308 for their game against Orlando City B.[9]

Don Garber raises an FC Cincinnati scarf during his 2016 town hall meeting

On July 16, 2016, FC Cincinnati set the record for highest attendance at a soccer match in the state of Ohio when 35,061 people came for an Exhibition game against Crystal Palace.

On October 2, 2016, FC Cincinnati hosted their first ever playoff match against Charleston Battery, losing 2–1 in the quarterfinals of the 2016 USL playoffs. In the process, the club broke the playoff and single-game attendance record at 30,187.[10]

On June 14, 2017, FC Cincinnati played their first match against a Major League Soccer team, Columbus Crew SC, during the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Cincinnati won 1–0, with player Baye Djiby Fall scoring the only goal of the game. In the process, Cincinnati broke the attendance record for the U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round with 30,160 tickets sold, only 5,000 behind their club attendance record of 35,061.

On June 28, 2017, FC Cincinnati played their second match against a Major League Soccer team, Chicago Fire, in the Round of 16 during the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Cincinnati would prevail 3–1 on penalty kicks after a 0–0 draw, with goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt stopping three of four penalty kicks. He totaled 10 saves during the match. The attendance of 32,287 was the second largest Modern Era crowd in U.S. Open Cup history. The match was televised nationally on ESPN.[11]

On August 15, 2017, FC Cincinnati were defeated at home in front of a sold-out crowd by the New York Red Bulls 3–2 in the US Open Cup semi-final. FCC was leading 2–0 in the second half before eventually losing in extra time.[12]

On April 7, 2018, the club set the USL attendance record for a home opener at 25,667 in a 1–0 loss to rival Louisville City.[13]

MLS expansion bid

The club began negotiations with Major League Soccer over a potential expansion franchise in early 2016, and Cincinnati was announced as one of ten cities that had expressed interest in the slots for teams 25 to 28.[14][15] MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited Cincinnati in December 2016 to tour Nippert Stadium and meet with city and club officials, complimenting the city and its fans.[16] FC Cincinnati formally submitted its expansion bid in January 2017, including a shortlist of potential stadium locations.[17]

On May 29, 2018, Major League Soccer announced that FC Cincinnati would join the league in 2019 as an expansion team.[18][19] A 21,000-seat stadium in the West End is scheduled to open in 2021.[20][21]

Team colors and crest

The team's primary colors are orange and blue, which are also used as a nickname for the team. The crest is a simple shield with a crown and the winged lion of Saint Mark the Evangelist holding a sword and a soccer ball.[22][23] The colors and crests originated with the Dayton Dutch Lions, the team's launch partner.[24]

The club's full name is Futbol Club Cincinnati, but is expected to change to "Fussball Club" in 2019 to honor the city's German roots.[25]


FC Cincinnati plays home matches at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, also home to Cincinnati Bearcats football. The stadium was designed for American football and underwent a minor renovation in 2016 to accommodate the soccer team, a few months after the completion of a major renovation by the football team.[26] FC Cincinnati limits stadium capacity for USL matches to approximately 25,000 with upper level sections covered.[27] The "Bailey" is the official supporters section in Nippert, with a capacity of 1,700 and regular displays of flags, tifos, and colored smoke.[28] Other sections of the stadium are catered towards casual fans and families, including sections with bleachers seating and club seating.[29]

The team is expected to move into a new stadium in 2021.

On June 26, 2018, the club announced plans to build a training complex in Milford, Ohio. The estimated $30 million project will occupy approximately 23.6 acres (9.6 ha) and will serve as the base for FC Cincinnati's soccer operations, including the MLS first team and future FCC Academy's training and performance activities. The facility is also expected to host between 6 and 20 soccer-related events a year, including first-team scrimmages, FCC Academy games and local soccer tournaments. The complex is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.[30]

Ownership and team management

General manager Jeff Berding, MLS commissioner Don Garber, club owner Carl Lindner III, and Cincinnati mayor John Cranley at the MLS franchise announcement in 2018

Former Cincinnati Bengals executive Jeff Berding is the president and general manager.[31] The CEO and majority owner of the team is Carl Lindner III, CEO of American Financial Group.[32] The club's ownership group also includes Chris Lindner (Carl III's son), David L. Thompson, Jeff Berding, Scott Farmer, Steve Hightower, George Joseph, Mike Mossel (who also is an owner of the Dayton Dutch Lions), and Jack Wyant.[33]

FC Cincinnati introduced former MLS player John Harkes as its first head coach on August 12, 2015.[34] Harkes was relieved of his coaching duties in February 2017 and replaced by assistant coach and scouting director Alan Koch.[35]

Supporters and club culture

FC Cincinnati's fan section in Nippert Stadium, dubbed "The Bailey"
Supporter group Die Innenstadt gathers outside of Mecklenburg Gardens, preparing to walk to Nippert Stadium for a match

FC Cincinnati has become the most supported lower-tier soccer club in the United States, setting the USL record by averaging 21,199 in attendance in the 2017 season.[36]

FC Cincinnati has six sanctioned supporters groups that represent different areas and cultures of the tri-state region and sit in the north-side supporters area in "The Bailey", a de facto standing section. The "German-themed" Die Innenstadt is based on Cincinnati's "inner city" neighborhoods including Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.[28] Die Innenstadt hosts its match day activities at Mecklenburg Gardens and watches away matches at Rhinehaus OTR. Die Innenstadt kicks off every match with a supporters march from Mecklenburg up University Ave. and march into the south side of Nippert Stadium.[citation needed] The Pride is the oldest supporters group, having been founded before the club was announced in August 2015,[citation needed] and are based at Ladder 19. Smaller groups are based on various common interests: The Den is a supporter's group geared towards families; The Legion is composed mostly of college-age members from the local universities; Lowen Des Sudens is made up of members from Northern Kentucky; the Queen City Firm consists mainly of supporters from Cincinnati's west-side.


River Cities Cup

Corben Bone of Cincinnati and Niall McCabe of Louisville fight for the ball in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup

FC Cincinnati's main league and regional rival is Louisville City FC, located a mere 100 miles southwest of Cincinnati along the Ohio River. The two clubs compete annually for the River Cities Cup in what is known to locals as "The Dirty River Derby". The rivalry has quickly become one of the most well attended and hotly contested match-ups in lower division US soccer.

The cities' two main universities (Louisville and Cincinnati) had a long-standing football rivalry and basketball rivalry that ended in 2013 due to conference realignment. Both teams went 1–1–1 against each other in each of the first two seasons of the rivalry (2016 and 2017), with Cincinnati taking the cup home in 2016 and Louisville City doing so in 2017, both on aggregate. Louisville City retained the trophy in 2018 by winning the first two of the teams' three regular-season matches.

Other rivalries

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds are located less than 290 miles away and were formerly the second closest USL team from Cincinnati. This rivalry has developed from the rivalry between the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. In the first-ever meeting between the two clubs, the Riverhounds-FC Cincinnati match set a then-USL record crowd of 23,375 fans. The May 14, 2016 match was dubbed an "Orange Out" and had Bengals players on the pitch before the match as honorary captains.

Cincinnati also has a rivalry with the Charlotte Independence, known as the Queen City Cup Challenge. The two "Queen-Cities" faced in the inaugural home match at Nippert Stadium for FC Cincinnati in April 2016. Cincinnati would claim the rivalry cup in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Cincinnati has a potential in-state rival in Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew.[37] The two clubs were drawn together in a US Open Cup match in 2017, known as Hell Is Real,[38][39] after a Christian-themed billboard on Interstate 71, the highway between Columbus and Cincinnati.[38]


On February 23, 2016, FC Cincinnati announced ESPN 1530 as the Official Radio Partner for the organization. ESPN 1530 airs all of FCC's regular-season home matches. FC Cincinnati also penned an agreement with Moerlein Lager House to present all games live on TV.

Tom Gelehrter, the voice of FC Cincinnati
Lindsay Patterson, sideline reporter

On March 22, 2017, FC Cincinnati reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to have WKRC-TV, WSTR-TV and CinCW 12.2 televise all home and away games, including playoff games. 9 games air on WSTR, 4 on CinCW, 2 on Local 12. Tom Gelehrter calls play-by-play with Kevin McCloskey and Paul Rockwood as color analysts. Lindsay Patterson serves as sideline reporter.[40]

For the club's first two seasons, all live USL matches were live-streamed on YouTube. A few weeks into their third season, however, the USL reached an agreement with ESPN to make ESPN+ its official live-streaming service starting on April 12, 2018. USL matches remain accessible outside of the United States on YouTube.[41]

FC Cincinnati broadcast its 2016 friendly against Crystal Palace live on Facebook.[42] The broadcast also featured special Facebook Live 360-degree footage.

Players and staff


As of July 31, 2018[43]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Evan Newton  United States
2 Defender Matt Bahner  United States
3 Defender Forrest Lasso  United States
4 Midfielder Tyler Gibson  United States
5 Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi  United States
6 Midfielder Kenney Walker  United States
7 Forward Russell Cicerone  United States
9 Forward Fanendo Adi  Nigeria
10 Forward Emery Welshman  Guyana
11 Forward Danni König  Denmark
12 Defender Pa Konate (on loan from SPAL)  Sweden
13 Midfielder Michael Lahoud  Sierra Leone
16 Midfielder Richie Ryan  Ireland
17 Goalkeeper Mark Village  Canada
18 Goalkeeper Spencer Richey (on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps)  United States
19 Midfielder Corben Bone  United States
20 Midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin  United States
21 Defender Dekel Keinan  Israel
23 Defender Blake Smith  United States
24 Forward Tomi Ameobi  England
27 Midfielder Fatai Alashe (on loan from San Jose Earthquakes)  United States
29 Defender Paddy Barrett  Ireland
32 Defender Justin Hoyte  Trinidad and Tobago
45 Midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma  Argentina
51 Defender Sem de Wit  Netherlands

Out on loan

No. Position Player Nation
8 Midfielder Will Seymore (on loan to Reno 1868)  United States
14 Midfielder Lance Laing (on loan to San Antonio FC)  Jamaica

Coaching staff

Alan Koch was promoted to head coach on February 17, 2017
Position Staff
Head coach South Africa Alan Koch
Assistant coach France Yoann Damet
Goalkeeper coach England Jack Stern
Scout and youth coordinator Jamaica Omar Cummings[44]
Athletic trainer United States Aaron Powell
Strength & conditioning United States Austin Berry
UC health United States Dr. Angelo Colosimo
United States Dr. Brian Grawe
Ripploh chiropractic United States Dr. Keith Ripploh

Former players and staff

Head coaches

Years Name Nation
2016–2017 John Harkes  United States
2017–present Alan Koch  South Africa

Club captains

Years Name Nation
2016–2017 Austin Berry  United States
2018–present Dekel Keinan  Israel


Seasons and records


Year USL Regular season Position Playoffs U.S.
Open Cup
Average attendance
P W L D GF GA Pts Conf. Overall
2016 30 16 6 8 41 27 56 3rd 3rd Conference Quarterfinals 3rd round 17,296
2017 32 12 10 10 46 48 46 6th 12th Conference Quarterfinals Semi-finals 21,199
2018 28 19 3 6 56 26 63 1st 1st TBD 4th round 25,194

International opponents


Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor Ref.
2015–2018 Nike Toyota [49]
2019 (planned) Adidas[50] Mercy Health Partners [51]


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External links

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