On Wednesday morning, FC Cincinnati announced the signing of former Premier League and Trinidad & Tobago National Team defender Justin Hoyte. Traditionally a right back, Hoyte appeared for FCC in the UC preseason match as a center back and left back. Hoyte is available for immediate selection and could join the team for their match this Saturday in Pittsburgh.
“To add a player that has Premier League experience is a major addition to our squad,” commented Head Coach Alan Koch in the FC Cincinnati press release. “Justin’s personality and humbleness for someone who has already achieved a significant amount in the game is enriching for our group. Our younger players can use him as a mentor as they grow their careers. I also know that Justin is incredibly motivated to be successful here in North America and I look forward to working with him. He is a versatile defender and will compete for a starting position in our team immediately.”
The former England Youth International played 13 seasons in the two highest divisions of English Football. An Arsenal Academy product, he has spent time as a senior player at Arsenal, Sunderland, Middlesborough, Millwall, and Dagenham & Redbridge.
In his time in England, Hoyte made over 230+ professional appearances including 83 in the Premier League and 127 in the Championship. Hoyte also represented Arsenal in 11 UEFA Champions League matches.
After making over 50+ appearances for the England youth national teams, Hoyte registered as a member of the Trinidad & Tobago Senior National team in 2013. Hoyte has been capped 18 times for the Soca Warriors, most recently in March of 2016. As an international Hoyte was able to play 14 minutes in a 2015 World Cup qualifier vs. the United States. He also starred as a Center back in a 6-0 shutout vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
What does this mean for the FC Cincinnati defense? Later in his career, Hoyte has moved to several positions across the back. In his last professional stop at Dagenham & Redbridge, the defender started as a CB and LB while transitioning back to a RB for his final 5 matches.
Just from his first appearance in the Orange & Blue, I would believe that Coach Koch is looking for him to play the CB role. It would seem unlikely that he would dispossess starters Austin Berry & Harrison Delbridge straight off. Could Koch be looking at a 5 man back line in the future? His mobility from being a full back could help alongside Berry & Delbridge.
Could Koch also be looking for Hoyte to replace Polak on the left? The starting LB has been one of the most improved players since the beginning of last season, but we have seen him have issues dealing with speedy wingers. I am not sure how fast Hoyte is, but in the short span at UC, he was able to make decent runs backward to stop counters.
Adding a player of Hoyte’s pedigree shows an additional step in the maturity of the club. Going out and signing someone who has played at the highest levels should only help in the quality of the roster. Look for Hoyte to come in and immediately challenge to get a spot in the Starting XI.