On Monday afternoon, FC Cincinnati issued a press release stating that 15 players from the 2016 roster are signed for the upcoming 2017 USL season. Notable inclusions on the list are Cincinnati native Austin Berry, CST Fan Vote Player of the Year Award winner Harrison Delbridge and former UC product Omar Cummings.
Check out the full list of returning players below. Cincinnati Soccer Talk has provided a table of the roster and will highlight all of the player moves during the off season. Read below as we give our thoughts on the initial signings for 2017.
Signed for 2017
Defenders (5) – Austin Berry, Harrison Delbridge, Derek Luke, Pat McMahon and Tyler Polak
Midfield (6) – Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin, Omar Mohamed, Francisco Narbon, Paul Nicholson and Kenney Walker
Forwards (4) – Omar Cummings, Antoine Hoppenot, Casey Townsend, and Andrew Wiedeman
Goalkeepers (0) – none
You have to give credit to the FC Cincinnati front office for locking up several of these players on long-term contracts. This list is filled with key contributors, including most of the central spine of the team with Berry, Delbridge, Walker and Bone returning.
Both starting wingers are returning as well. I thought both McLauglin and Wiedeman had played well enough to earn a contract with FCC or potentially with an MLS club. I am also excited that youngster Omar Mohamed is rejoining the squad. Mohamed had shown promise in his limited minutes and could look to compete for a starting spot on the wing in the preseason. He has some of the best foot-skills on the team and could benefit with more time.
It comes to me as a bit of a shock that both Cummings and Hoppenot are back, but in a good way. There was some doubt in my mind that Cummings could retire this off season. With his 2016 being filled with injuries, it will be left to see if he can still make a big impact in 2017. Hoppenot also had an injury riddled season. Coming into 2016, I thought that he had a chance to start up top before Okoli was signed. At worst he provides some quality depth. There were rumors that Casey Townsend was transferred to FC Cincinnati on a two-year contract. This seems all but confirmed that he was listed in this group. Again, it seems that the forward position will be filled with competition and I look forward to see who comes out on top if Sean Okoli does not return.
There were also several key players not included on this list topping them all seems to be USL MVP Sean Okoli and USL Goalkeeper of the Year Mitch Hildebrandt. Sources close to the club have commented that Hildebrandt is in negotiations with FC Cincinnati. His wife is a current coach on the Xavier Women’s Volleyball team, so I do believe that he will return for 2017. Okoli on the other hand is a wild card. Major League Soccer will be adding two expansion teams this off season and that will open up some 6-10 spots for strikers in that league. Don’t hold your breath that Okoli is returning and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in a clubs pre season camp. He is still only 23 years old and could be a good signing for several MLS clubs.
Other key contributors not on the list were midfielders Ross Tomaselli and Eric Stevenson. Tomaselli had not made many impact appearances in the final half of the season and could realistically be seen a moving to a different club. Stevenson made a good impression after returning from an off season injury and could still be feeling out his options in MLS. I do feel the Stevenson will end up back at FC Cincinnati.
Striker Luke Spencer was also not mentioned in the release. A fan favorite, Spencer found playing time hard to come by and I think it unlikely for him to return.
Do you have any thoughts about the signings or disagree with my thoughts? Call into our LIVE podcast tonight – Tuesday 11/15 at 8 p.m. Our phone number is 513-399-KICK (5425).
@BryanWeigel for @CincySoccerTalk
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