FC Cincinnati officially kicked off their 2018 season on Wednesday night with their first training session in the Sheakley Athletics Center bubble. While it is tough to gauge much off such a short session, there were several traits our staff were able to observe. The crew also recorded a special podcast reflecting on the evening. Please check out the show that includes interviews with Jimmy McLaughlin, Justin Hoyte, Kenney Walker and Matt Bahner.
Join Bryan Weigel, Boston Brazzell, and Bill Wolf as they recap FC Cincinnati’s first training session of 2018 followed by interviews with Jimmy McLaughlin, Justin Hoyte, Kenney Walker and Matt Bahner. The guys give their thoughts on who impressed, how the evening went, and who could impress in the future.
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What We Learned
Ledesma can play – One of FC Cincinnati’s newest signings impressed right away. 15 minutes into drills, our staff and several other spectators were trying to figure out which mystery player was nailing one-touch passes to his teammates and commanding others where to go so he could send his next ball. The bleached blonde player’s number was tough to make out, only that his number looked to be in the 40’s. Staff member, Bill Wolf was finally able to nail down that it was indeed Ledesma shining early on drawing, many media members to watch his group. He seemed comfortable on the ball and was quick in his decision making. Of course, gauging overall talent in these drills is tough, but he seemed to execute more quickly and efficiently than most on the roster.
We should have the biggest defense in the league – The size of Paddy Barrett, Dekel Keinan, and Forrest Lasso should easily make us formidable in the box. Not only are these guys tall, but they are built like a brick house. I was really impressed with the shape of Keinan. The 33-year-old has a lot of muscle to him, but also seemed to move quickly in drills. He did not have much of an offseason after moving from Maccabi Haifa and you could tell he looked fit. Both Lasso and Barrett moved the ball well in drills with the Irishman dazzling on several dribbles. While it appears tough to replace Berry and Delbridge, my initial impressions seem favorable of the bunch. If this corps is indeed good in the air, we should be scoring additional set piece goals in 2018 and hopefully not concede many.
Jimmy McLaughlin & Josu on the sidelines – First reported by Charlie Hatch of the Enquirer, Jimmy McLaughlin will be out two weeks with a left foot injury. The winger was at the session in a boot and told CST that it was “precautionary and I should be back in two weeks.” The lingering issue from 2017 will put Jimmy behind a bit for preseason, but with six weeks to get back into the squad, he was confident it should not be a problem. Another injured player, Josu, did return to the group for preseason. Josu had a procedure done on his right knee in November but is back in Cincinnati rehabbing the injury. He was doing some ball activity in his individual training and CST was told he was on a stationary bike on Wednesday evening.
Goalkeeping group is high energy – New GK Coach Jack Stern is not afraid to mix it up with his new group. New additions Evan Newton, Mark Village, and Spencer Richey worked with Stern for the majority of practice which included some ball drills, footwork, and shot stopping. However, my favorite part of their session was when they were attempting precision passes from about 40 yards away. Stern had the keepers attempt to hit the crossbar of the goal and the keepers were up to the task. This should thrill Nick Seuberling and Ben Knapp as we will attempt to have a 2nd Annual CST Skills Competition. The group seemed to mesh early and Coach Stern seemed happy with the initial work out.
Veteran Group – While there are 15 new additions to the squad for 2018, you could already see many of the guys communicating well on the pitch. Several moments stood out to our staff. Kenney Walker made sure on several occasions that his teammates were executing the drills properly. Another returnee, Matt Bahner seemed to mesh really well with the group and injected a lot of spirit on day one. Finally, Emmanuel Ledesma was always communicating where he wanted his teammates to be and where to go with the ball. Combine his skills with the execution shown by Naz Albadawi and Tyler Gibson, I feel pretty confident in the group. Not to be overshadowed, however, was Corben Bone. The midfielder is one of the smartest players on the team and had his way in several drills. I think several of these new additions could compliment Bone’s style well with close proximity combinations. While the midfield had many new additions, it sure didn’t seem like Corben was ready to concede any spots on day one.