Former FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt has signed with Atlanta United of Major League Soccer, according to a report Friday evening from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Hildebrandt, wildly popular in Cincinnati and an original FCC signee, is expected to compete with Alec Kann as Brad Guzan’s primary backup in Atlanta, according to the Journal-Constitution. It is also possible Hildebrandt could spend time with Atlanta’s new USL affiliate in Gwinnett, GA.
Hildebrandt was an instant hit with FCC supporters. He’s most famous for the “Mitch Says No!” chants reverberated around Nippert Stadium after every save, and he celebrated every win at Nippert by leading The Bailey in a victory clap from the penalty spot. Just two weeks ago, he and Listermann Brewing released a beer collaboration, a New England IPA named “Thank You.”
Hildebrandt won USL Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2016 after recording 10 clean sheets, including four straight to end the regular season, and allowing just .86 goals per match with a 74.8 percent save success rate.
Earlier this season, in Cincinnati Soccer Talk’s Moment of the Year, Hildebrandt blocked three penalty kicks to help FCC snuff out the Chicago Fire at Nippert in the club’s memorable U.S. Open Cup run.
Despite his performance against the Fire, Hildebrandt’s performance dropped significantly in 2017, allowing 1.56 goals per match with a 67.7 percent save success rate and recording seven clean sheets in league play. He allowed at least three goals in the final three matches and four or more goals three times.
Just days after FCC’s quarterfinal loss to Tampa Bay in the USL Cup tournament, the club announced it would not renew the contracts of backups Dallas Jaye and Dan Williams. Hildebrandt was also without a contract — though the club said it was open to negotiations — leaving FCC without a goalkeeper on roster.
The club has filled those spots with Spencer Richey, on loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps, and former Vancouver Whitecaps 2 keeper Mark Village. This move seems to clear the way for Richey to become the club’s #1 pending any additional keeper signings.
CST’s top five Hildebrandt memories
5. Named 2016 USL Goalkeeper of the Year
4. Double save at Toronto FC 2 on April 24, 2016, landing No. 3 on that night’s ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 list
3. Celebrating every victory at Nippert Stadium by leading The Bailey in a victory clap from the penalty spot
2. The “Mitch says no!” chant after every save that began in The Bailey early in the 2016 season and soon spread throughout Nippert
1. Ten saves, including three blocked penalty kicks, in the U.S. Open Cup shootout victory over the Chicago Fire on June 28, 2017