FC Cincinnati wins MLS expansion offer, to join the league in 2019



The MLS officially grew to 26 clubs on Tuesday night, and pledged to roll out 24 next season, as FC Cincinnati finally received its formal welcome to the league from commissioner Don Garber, ending an 18-month career to fill the first two of four planned expansion berths (excluding Miami). The announcement in an Over-the-Rhine brewery took place less than a mile from the West End site where FCC will open its new stadium in 2021.

The current USL club will start competing in the MLS next year, however, as the The high level league looks for an even number of teams. FCC will continue to play at the Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati, which has been at home since 2016, until its new 21,000-seat venue is ready. Recent expansion teams Orlando City, Atlanta United and Minnesota United have adopted similar approaches.

It is the stadium that sealed the agreement for FCC, which already brought a well-connected and well-connected local leader in Carl Lindner III and impressive admirer and proven support for the table. But that was not enough to save the 35th. The country's largest media market after Sacramento (No. 20) and Detroit (No. 14) – the other finalists in this round – and in a league of 26 teams. The location of the stadium had to be ideal. And suburban Oakley, the best club option last year, right? The prosperous West End was. Finally, after long negotiations with the city council and other entities, an agreement was reached last month that will allow Lindner and his partners to finance the stadium (as well as the reconstruction of a high school stadium now on the site), while The city Garber's enthusiasm for the West End was evident on Tuesday, as it referred to a couple of legendary European places.

"We have fought a lot in the last six months … to get a stadium that is unprecedented," he said. "This could be Bernabéu, this could be Anfield, you have a stadium that will be built in a large part of the community."

That community has been incredibly supportive, which is what took a city that was on anyone's radar of expansion in 2015 until Tuesday. Attendance at the USL in the regular season has gone from the average appeal of 17,296 in its inaugural season (2016) and a playoff crowd of more than 30,000, to a record high of 24,416 so far this spring. And the crowds during the last US Open Cup, which included more than 32,000 in a round of 16 against the Chicago Fire and 33,250 in the semifinal loss to the New York Red Bulls (both nights of the week), demonstrated the fervor and the football of the city. (19659002) "You should be incredibly proud of your meteoric rise as one of our most incredible football cities continents," Garber said at Tuesday's event.

After FCC starts playing next year, the expansion teams in Nashville (the other winner of 12 markets) and Miami (promised to David Beckham in early 2014) are expected to take the field in 2020. That will leave two places available. MLS has not established a schedule or procedure to fill them, but Sacramento, Detroit, Phoenix and San Diego are expected to be among the top favorites.

Sacramento Republic, which lagged behind Cincinnati when it became clear that owner Kevin Nagle needed additional investment, said the following in a series of tweets on Tuesdays: "This announcement does not affect Sacramento's ability to join the MLS We maintain regular communication with the league and Commissioner Garber and are working against the clock to ensure that a new principal investor finalizes our offer. "

The Cincinnati entry has also raised questions about the precarious state of the Columbus crew, whose owner, Anthony Precourt, wants to move the club to Austin, Texas. The crew was not a factor in granting a place for Cincinnati: if the tide changes in any way and the team remains in Columbus, there is the possibility of a heated and absorbing rivalry. If the crew leaves for Texas, FCC's potential to reach the future ns in Dayton and other communities south of the state capital increases. As far as MLS is concerned, Lindner and the market proved to be worthy independent of the difficulties in Columbus.

Garber addressed the issue before Tuesday's announcement.

"It's hard for me to say what I hope [from a possible Ohio rivalry]but I'll say there's no doubt that Columbus and Cincinnati would be great rivals together," he said, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer . "But we have a lot work to do to see what our future is in Columbus. "

Given the short track of FCC – which will open its first MLS preseason camp in eight months – there are some other issues that were not discussed during Tuesday's program. and that should be addressed relatively soon. The league mentioned in a press release that no decision has been made on which conference the club will join. This is the obvious destination, currently has 11 members while the western one has 12, but the entry of Nashville and Miami will create an imbalance in 2020. The determination of the future of the crew will probably be the first domino of alignment to fall.

There was also no mention on Tuesday about the schedule or rules of a potential expansion draft, and only suggestions about any possible brand adjustment. The blue and orange colors of FCC were everywhere and will almost certainly remain, while a crown (Cincinnati is Queen City) was used in the graphics of the league. The main icon of the club is the winged lion of San Marcos Evangelista. It is a traditional Christian symbol. The supplier of the Adidas league usually needs more than a year to prepare the uniforms, the kit and the merchandise, although in the past it has worked faster for a couple of clubs.

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