FC Cincinnati

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FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati blue on orange shield.svg
Full name Futbol Club Cincinnati[1]
Nickname(s) FCC, FC Cincy
Founded August 12, 2015; 2 years ago (2015-08-12)
Stadium Nippert Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio
Ground Capacity 40,000[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 currently coaches the team.


In May 2015, rumors of a new USL club in Cincinnati started to be reported by the news media. There was much 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]

Due to the successful first year, the club has generated national and international media coverage and is now regularly mentioned as a MLS expansion candidate. The club is actively pursuing one of the few remaining spots as the MLS expands to 28 teams. On November 29, 2016, MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited Cincinnati. In his day-long visit, he met with owners and management, visited the club's facilities, toured landmarks around downtown and Over-the-Rhine, met with supporters at a Town Hall meeting hosted by former MLS player and ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, and attended a black tie dinner with local business leaders.

On April 15, 2017, the club set the USL attendance record for a home opener at 23,144.[11]

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.[12]

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 semifinal. FCC was leading 2–0 in the second half before eventually losing in extra time.[13]


FC Cincinnati plays home matches at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, also home to the Cincinnati Bearcats football program. Nippert Stadium is a 35,000+ seat stadium designed for American football and recently renovated to accommodate soccer. FC Cincinnati artificially limits the stadium's capacity for USL matches to approximately 25,000 with certain seating sections covered with tarpaulins. The "Bailey" is the supporters section in Nippert where the most boisterous fans cheer on FC Cincinnati. The stadium offers a full complement of suites and club seating to go along with bleacher seating throughout the remainder of Nippert.


River Cities 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 city's two main universities (Louisville and Cincinnati) had a long-standing football 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 score.

Hell Is Real

Cincinnati also has an in-state rivalry with Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew.[14] The rivalry, which began when the two clubs hooked up in a US Open Cup match in 2017, is known as "Hell Is Real",[15][16] after a Christian-themed billboard on Interstate 71, the highway between Columbus and Cincinnati.[15]

Other rivalries

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds are located less than 290 miles away and are 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 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 for FC Cincinnati. At the away leg in Charlotte, FC Cincinnati claimed the first edition of the Cup on the away-goals rule, with a record of 1–1–0 and an aggregate score of 4–4.

Ownership and team management

FC Cincinnati officially introduced John Harkes as its first head coach on August 12, 2015. Harkes had previously acted as the New York Red Bulls assistant coach from July 2006 to November 2007. Ryan Martin was the top assistant coach along with goalkeepers coach Jamie Starr.

In February 2017, Harkes was relieved of his coaching duties and Alan Koch was hired as his successor. Koch was joined by assistant coach Yoann Damet.

Former Cincinnati Bengals executive Jeff Berding is acting as the President and General Manager.

The CEO and majority owner of FC Cincinnati is Carl Lindner III. 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.

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 clubs in the United States, setting the USL record by averaging 21,199 in attendance in the 2017 season[17]. FC Cincinnati fans display their support by painting Nippert in a shade of orange and blue in the red dominated facility.

FC Cincinnati has six active/sanctioned supporters groups in their inaugural season. The groups come from different parts of the tri-state. The "German-themed" Die Innenstadt is based on Cincinnati's "inner city" neighborhoods including Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. 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.

Another large supporters group is The Pride. This group is the oldest and was founded before the official club announcement in August 2015.[citation needed] The Pride spends their match days at Ladder 19 participating in the march meeting Die Innenstadt. Members of the Pride support the club during away matches at Molly Malones in Covington, KY.

The Bailey Bastards, also an officially recognized SG, consists of members from all over the Greater Cincinnati area, gathering at Hangover Easy on W Charlton Ave before meeting up with the march near Bogarts and settling into section 135 of The Bailey.

Smaller groups are based on various things the members have in common: 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 who spend their time pre-gaming at an NKY bar Barleycorns; the Queen City Firm consists mainly of supporters from Cincinnati's west-side. There are independent supporter groups as well. Queen City Mafia is not an official supporters group with the team and consists of people from all over the Tri-state area. QCM as it is frequently referenced is a small intimate group that feels more like a family than a supporters group.

The majority of these groups sit in the north-side Bailey, with the exception of the Legion who sit in the south-side. It is routine for the Bailey to be a "standing-section", where fans cheer passionately. The Bailey is led in chants by selected members of the various supporters groups.

Several chants and songs have been established by the supporters groups. After each FC Cincinnati goal, supporters repeat the chant "WE don't, WE don't, WE don't mess around, HEY!". It was started at a Die Innenstadt watch party for the second ever match, a friendly against KR Reykjavik. The chant was borrowed from an old game show on 700 WLW called Sports or Consequences in which host Gary Burbank would take questions from Cincinnati sports fans. If they got the question right, the hosts would celebrate by doing this chant. The show ended when the host retired in 2007, but many Cincinnati sports fans still remember the show fondly.

Members of the supporters groups meet several weeks before each match to compose "tifos" or other themed items for each match. Even though there are six or more supporters groups, the leaders and membership work together for a common good in supporting FC Cincinnati.

Attendance by season

Year Regular Season USL Game Average Post Season U.S. Open Cup Friendly Total
2016 259,437 17,296 30,187 8,668 35,061 333,353
2017 339,181 21,199 N/A 115,006 23,144 477,331

Broadcasting and coverage

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.[18]

All live USL matches are also streamed on YouTube.

FC Cincinnati broadcast its 2016 friendly against Crystal Palace live on Facebook.[19] The broadcast also featured special Facebook Live 360 degree footage.

Players & Staff


As of February 21, 2018 [20]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Newton, EvanEvan Newton  United States
2 Defender Bahner, MattMatt Bahner  United States
3 Defender Lasso, ForrestForrest Lasso  United States
4 Midfielder Gibson, TylerTyler Gibson  United States
5 Midfielder Albadawi, NazmiNazmi Albadawi  United States
6 Midfielder Walker , KenneyKenney Walker  United States
7 Forward Cicerone, RussellRussell Cicerone  United States
8 Midfielder Seymore, WillWill Seymore  United States
9 Forward Ameobi, TomiTomi Ameobi  England
10 Forward Welshman, EmeryEmery Welshman  Guyana
11 Forward König, DanniDanni König  Denmark
14 Midfielder Laing, LanceLance Laing  Jamaica
16 Midfielder Ryan, RichieRichie Ryan  Ireland
17 Goalkeeper Village, MarkMark Village  Canada
18 Goalkeeper Richey, SpencerSpencer Richey (on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps)  United States
19 Midfielder Bone, CorbenCorben Bone  United States
20 Midfielder McLaughlin, JimmyJimmy McLaughlin  United States
21 Defender Keinan, DekelDekel Keinan  Israel
23 Defender Smith, BlakeBlake Smith  United States
26 Defender Halfhill, GarrettGarrett Halfhill  United States
29 Defender Barrett, PaddyPaddy Barrett  Ireland
32 Defender Hoyte, JustinJustin Hoyte  Trinidad and Tobago
45 Midfielder Ledesma, EmmanuelEmmanuel Ledesma  Argentina
51 Defender de Wit, SemSem de Wit  Netherlands
92 Forward Haber, DanielDaniel Haber  Canada
99 Defender Josu, Josu  Spain

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 Jack Stern
Scout/Youth Coordinator Jamaica Omar Cummings[21]
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

Head coaches


Minor trophies


Year USL Regular season Position Playoffs Additional
Open Cup
P W L D GF GA Pts Conf. Overall
2016 30 16 6 8 41 27 56 3rd 3rd Conference Quarterfinals N/A 3rd Round
2017 32 12 10 10 46 48 46 6th 12th Conference Quarterfinals N/A Semifinals

International opponents


Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor Ref.
2015– Nike Toyota [26]


  1. ^ Hatch, Charlie (January 8, 2018). "Notebook: USL schedule update, a new club, NASL to play in winter and a Harkes update". cincinnati.com. USA Today. Retrieved January 31, 2018. 
  2. ^ FCC staff (July 16, 2016). "Record Crowd Watches FCC Take On Crystal Palace". Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  3. ^ Hollingsworth, Chad (May 10, 2015), USL to Expand to Cincinnati in 2016 
  4. ^ Monk, Dan (August 6, 2015), Cincinnati Bengals exec Jeff Berding trying to bring a new pro soccer franchise to town, WCPO-TV 
  5. ^ Switzer, D.J. (May 11, 2015), revealed: USL in Cincinnati, Wrong Side of the Pond, retrieved August 11, 2015 
  6. ^ Vicar, Nathan (August 12, 2015). "Details released about new FC Cincinnati pro soccer team". FOX10 News. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ Report: FC Cincinnati set to announce 2016 USL expansion, John Harkes as head coach, MLSSoccer.com, August 11, 2015 
  8. ^ Brennan, Patrick (May 14, 2016). "Another record crowd turns out to watch FC Cincy win". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Crowd count weekend soccer attendances". 
  10. ^ Kimura, Fumi (October 2, 2016). "Post-Season Ends In Loss To Battery, FCC Sets USL Playoff Record". Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  11. ^ Murray, Nicholas. "FCC Awed by Record Opener of 23,144". USL Soccer. Retrieved 17 April 2017. 
  12. ^ "PAIR OF UPSETS BY DIVISION II CLUBS HIGHLIGHT 2017 U.S. OPEN CUP ROUND OF 16". U.S. Soccer. Retrieved 29 June 2017. 
  13. ^ "FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls – Football Match Report – August 15, 2017 – ESPN". ESPNFC.com. Retrieved 2017-08-16. 
  14. ^ Reed, Tom (June 14, 2017). "It's feeling real in Cincinnati". The Columbus Dispatch. GateHouse Media. Retrieved December 27, 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Murphy, Pat (June 14, 2017). "Massive Predictions: Hell is Real - Will Hell freeze over or take over Columbus following this U.S. Open Cup Derby?". Massive Report. SB Nation. Retrieved December 27, 2017. 
  16. ^ Hatch, Charlie (June 14, 2017). "'HELL IS REAL,' and so is FC Cincinnati's threat to Columbus". FourFourTwo. Haymarket Media Group. Retrieved December 27, 2017. 
  17. ^ "USL Surpasses 2 Million in Attendance for 2017". 
  18. ^ "FC Cincinnati, Sinclair Strike Television Deal". FC Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016. 
  19. ^ "USL's FC Cincinnati-Crystal Palace Friendly to be Streamed Live on Facebook". Retrieved August 15, 2016. 
  20. ^ "2018 Roster". FC Cincinnati. Retrieved January 5, 2018. 
  21. ^ Kimura, Fumi (July 23, 2017). "Omar Cummings Announces Retirement". 
  22. ^ "FC Cincinnati Takes IMG Classic Title". United Soccer League. Retrieved February 28, 2016. 
  23. ^ "FCC downs Louisville to lift the River Cities Cup". Retrieved August 15, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Charlotte Earns Berth, Cincy Claims Queen City Cup". United Soccer League. Retrieved October 3, 2016. 
  25. ^ Reporter, Staff (September 30, 2017). "Schindler, Hildebrandt play key roles as FC Cincinnati claims cup, upsets Charlotte Independence 1–0". Northern Kentucky Tribune. nkytribune.com. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Cincinnati Unveils Jersey, Major Sponsorships". United Soccer League. Archived from the original on October 13, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015. 

External links

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