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CST Roundtable: More MLS Expansion and FC Cincinnati Signings

CST Roundtable: More MLS Expansion

CST Roundtable: More MLS ExpansionWe’re back for another installment of the CST Roundtable. If you missed last week’s roundtable, you can read it here. On this week’s docket, more MLS Expansion chatter and FC Cincinnati’s newest additions.

Now that we know the criteria for MLS Expansion. How much better (or worse) do you feel about FC Cincinnati’s chances of entering MLS?

Yosief Tzeghai
I’m feeling much better after hearing a solid basis for MLS. The reality of being left out of next expansion period hits hard with 4 teams vying for 10 spots, some cities will be left out. As long as the fans keep up the good work FCC is a soccer stadium away from one of the later half of the MLS bids. Garber made it clear at least a plan will need to in place for a stadium before Garber will ever give Cincy an MLS bid.

Brad Weigel
Honestly we pretty much knew what he was going to say so I feel unchanged. There are so many pieces up in the air for 9 of the 10 clubs that the only lock looks to be Sacramento. There are ownerships to improve or be decided (San Diego, North Carolina, Tampa) or stadium situations to settle (Cincinnati, St Louis, San Antonio, Detroit). I look forward to see what comes out over the next few months but unfortunately there will be 6 great soccer towns on the outside looking in.

Bill Wolf
I agree with Brad. Garber listed the 3 criteria when he visited Cincinnati. This is the same criteria he listed again. This is not new. What is new is that they are requiring an application and a formal process but I think that’s the reality of the amount of $$$ involved and the fact that 10 teams want 4 spots. If this was handled over drinks and a handshake, lawyers would be involved. MLS needed to step up their process and they did. Regarding the stadium, again, no surprise that we need an answer. Garber said as much during his visit here. The maybe new comment is that he expects teams 25 and 26 to be ready with their stadium in 2020. That means we need to have a very solid plan by end of January and be able to pull the trigger by end of 2017 if we get a franchise. Maybe I’m naive, but with Jeff Berding, the FCC ownership group and this city behind us, I just don’t see this as a showstopper. Garber made sure we knew what it would take. Now we do it. Looking at the competition, there are some concerns, but despite all of the bluster coming out of the NASL teams in the last few weeks, I don’t see that Cincinnati has changed “position” at all. Garber used us and Sacramento as examples. I feel like those two club are in the pole position. North Carolina (both sites) seem to be on the outside. They have an uphill battle to fight. Tampa never even came up during the call. St. Louis was called out for their stadium issue. San Diego was called out for a conflict with the NFL. It’s not to say that these cities can’t improve their position, but the clock is ticking and they have red flags. San Antonio has been in the queue for a long time with little attention. To me the best competition seems to be Nashville and Detroit. Garber’s comments on those locations were positive. I think if MLS pulled the trigger today, Sacramento and Cincinnati look to take 25-26 and Detroit and Nashville look best for 27-28. The only issue with the last 2 is they potentially unbalance the east – west.

Bryan Weigel
I think nationally our chances seemed to decrease, due to the lack of knowledge from several journalists on our stadium plan. Berding was quoted that FCC has explored some soccer specific stadium opportunities in the urban core, but they were not far down the line on that topic yet. I think that may have been some external politicking to hide what they may be trying to do. We have all heard rumblings about the SSS option in Cincinnati so I am not very concerned yet. Ask me this question at the end of January and I may have a different answer. Now lets bring in some factors here. Mayor John Cranley is up for re-election next fall. How great would it be for him to publicly come out in favor of this plan? Several of his opponents have been against his stance on the streetcar, but this gives him a chance to win some of these people back over in an important year. Bring in 3CDC, Messer or several other local firms and you may be able to build a consensus in the area for an urban based venue. I also have an outlier for you on a location. What about Corryville up by Clifton? There are several large tracts of land that are just parking lots. There are also several publicly owned properties that could possibly be land swapped. What ever FCC can accomplish in the next 40 days on this will be crucial. As of right now I have to say we are more likely as team 27 or 28, but if this stadium plan gets rolling, 25 & 26 are a shot. If I had to rank most likely I’d put St. Louis and Sacrament in 25 & 26 with Detroit, Cincinnati, Nashville and Raleigh for the final 2.

Nick Seuberling
I think the thing FC Cincinnati has going for it is it’s fanbase. St Louis gets no one to attend their USL matches. North Carolina FC in the NASL didn’t get fans to show up. Sacromento yes has a solid fan base but they’re only getting 11,000-12,000 fans per game due to the stadium size. Could they really average 20K a game which is what FC Cincinnati is hoping to do in 2017. Detroit, again, who shows up? When it comes to soccer in America you can’t use the phrase “build it and they will come”. Because we’ve seen that doesn’t happen. Miami Fusion? Chivas USA? Tampa Bay Mutiny? If the MLS is smart, they’ll take FC Cincinnati in that first round because they’ve already shown within 1 year that a fanbase ACTUALLY EXISTS here.

Bryan Weigel
Let’s discuss St. Louis. Yes, their USL attendance is middling at best. But, MLS wants to be there. It is a huge variable that frankly Cincinnati doesn’t have. FCC will need to combat this with providing a state-of-the-art urban stadium that provides another venue for USMNT, USWNT and other high profile events. If FCC don’t do this, they will not be an MLS franchise. The stakes have changed, the goal-posts have been moved. And 2017 will have to be huge!

Nick Seuberling
Ok but even if St Louis builds it, is there really a guarantee that people will show up? Would Orlando be in MLS today if fans hadn’t turned out in droves for their USL side? Right now of those 10 cities listed, the fact that FC Cincinnati has the fanbase is a huge boost. They’re close to equalling the season ticket total from Sacramento as is.

Bryan Weigel
That’s not the point I am making. And I do believe they will. It is more that MLS wants to be there. They will jump through hoops to get there. Kinda like Miami. They have extra leeway whereas Cincinnati has to be perfect.

FC Cincinnati announced two signings this week. Eric Stevenson has re-upped with the club for another year. Surprisingly, former Louisville City FC winger Kadeem Dacres has been signed by FC Cincinnati. How big of an impact are both of these signings for 2017?

Bryan Weigel
Stevenson can be a starter. I’m still not sure where Dacres fits into the XI, but he could go out on the right if Wiedeman moves centrally. Dacres brings pace, but the finishing ability is severely lacking. He had an amazingly low shots to goals percentage his season at 5%. McLaughlin was close at over 7%, but that will need to vastly improve.

Nick Seuberling
I think it’s a big boost to this team, you’ve taken a player from the team that finished 1 spot higher than you in the standings a year ago. They’ve also not brought anyone in this offseason. The one thing missing from this team a year ago was pace. Looking forward to seeing more speedsters come to town. Hopefully.

Boston Brazzell
Dacres adds a much needed style to FC Cincinnati. If I had to point to a primary 2016 weakness, I would point to a lack of speed. Dacres is a stand out burner. He will make a team pay if they forget to watch him. I don’t see Dacres as a 90 minute guy. He will be a utility player that we will see often come in or out as one of the 3 subs. I am glad to see Stevenson back and am interested to hear Bill’s thoughts due to his panic the last month while waiting for news.

Nick Seuberling
Yes Bill made no bones about it. He’s a huge Stevenson fan. I’m hoping we see more goals like his cracker in the playoffs!

Brad Weigel
I know Dacres is the new shiny toy in the bag but I’m more excited for Eric Stevenson. I might be wrong but I don’t believe that Dacres is the difference maker that I believe Stevenson can be. I’m interested to see how he does in his second year after a hip injury. We have seen a lot of players take a dramatic step up in level their second year back.

Bryan Weigel
Agree with Brad

Boston Brazzell
Be equally exited man, don’t limit your excitement in a free country

Nick Seuberling
They still need a striker, or two.

Brad Weigel
I don’t think we will see any more high-profile signings until the USSF determines who is the Division II league and what eventually happens with the NASL. Keep in mind that all these players and their agents are in a holding pattern because they don’t know what the next week looks like let alone next season.

Nick Seuberling
Even so, no matter the division they’re in, they still need bring someone in who can fill the big shoes of Okoli. There isn’t anyone on this roster that currently can.

Bill Wolf
Yes, I’m very excited about Stevenson. He didn’t always start but some of the most creative moments seemed to involve him. I think he lifts his head and sees things that some of the other players don’t always see. I see him as a strong option to add creativity to the pitch if he continues to improve and recover from his past injury. Dacres is exciting as well. I had him on my short list of players to poach. He isn’t very prolific as far as earning points, but I think his presence will often force back lines to attend to him and that will draw out the back lines and tire them out. I think Boston might be right and that he doesn’t start. He might be a player that gets brought in in the last 20-30 minutes when the defense has tired legs and he can run circles around them. I think both players can have a positive impact and both have the potential to notch a few goals, but as Seubs points out, we really need an impact striker (or two). It’s one thing to expect Stevenson to tally a few more points and to bring in Dacres to net a few as well (vs. Hopenot or Spencer, etc.), but these players will be part of the attack that need a target and we’re still missing that IMHO

Boston Brazzell
The FCC has a lot on their plate right now. Jeff Berding has said fielding a winning team is very high up on the list. I am not stressing about the striker position. It will happen and the FO has not given us a reason to bet against them in the last year.

Bill Wolf
Not disagreeing with you Boston. Just pointing out that the “real” impact will come from a striker. I love both of these signings but until we see all the parts plugged together, it is still an open question in my mind.

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