FC Cincinnati continued its raid on former NASL players with the addition of left back/midfielder Blake Smith.
“Blake is a very technically sound, athletic full-back,” said Head Coach Alan Koch in the club’s press release. “He will give us another excellent option on the left side of the field. We are all excited to welcome him to the club and get him integrated with the team as quickly as possible.”
Smith spent the last two seasons with Miami FC of the NASL. In 2017, he appeared in 25 matches, starting in 21 while making 4 appearances in the NASL Team of the Week. Prior to his time at Miami FC, Smith was selected 8th overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact. He made 26 appearances for the club before a loan in 2014 to the Indy Eleven. In 2015 he played for the Swiss 3rd Division side Yverdon Sport FC.
2017 was somewhat of a transition year for Smith. After spending his career as a left-footed midfielder, including 30 appearances at that position in 2016, he made the switch to left-back and solidified his spot in the starting XI. Smith and Miami FC ended up as the Spring & Fall Season champions with the league’s best defense. Even with his move to the new position, he was effective going forward totaling 5 assists and a goal.
How does this impact the club?
The addition of Smith to the FCC roster opens up a lot of possibilities when assembling a starting XI for Coach Alan Koch. Coming into the preseason trip to Florida, it was assumed that the left-back corps would be Josu and newcomer Lance Liang. With Josu on the mend from offseason surgery, it left Laing as the only fit dedicated left-back on the roster.
At left-back, Smith gives Koch the two-player rotation he wants at the position and opens up the possibility of moving Laing back to a left-wing position where he has been so dangerous in during his career. If FC Cincinnati rolls out the rumored 4-2-3-1 formation, a starting XI that includes the midfield of Laing/McLaughlin, Albadawi, and Ledesma with the overlapping runs of Smith or Josu has to catch the attention of the league. Add in the fact that you could bring in Daniel Haber and one of the duo of Laing/McLaughlin off the bench late in a match should get every FCC fan excited.
The club now holds 3 of the top 10 leaders in assists from the NASL last season. Past results do not always predict future performance but if these players can replicate their production from seasons past, this squad should be one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the USL in 2018.
Current Roster (24)
Forwards (4)- Cicerone, Haber, Konig, Welshman
Midfielders (8) Albadawi, Bone, Gibson, Ledesma, Liang, McLaughlin, Seymore, Walker
Defenders (9)- Bahner, Barrett, De Wit, Halfhill, Hoyte, Josu, Keinan, Lasso, Smith
Goalkeepers (3)- Newton, Richey, Village