Sources suggest that FC Cincinnati will bolster their offense with the signing of midfield-playmaker Nazmi Albadawi.
The 26-year-old out of Raleigh, NC spent the last 4 seasons in the NASL with his hometown team, North Carolina FC. During his time at the club, he made over 110 appearances while earning a spot in the NASL Best XI for 2016 & 2017. In 2017 he made 32 appearances (31 starts), led the team in minutes played (2815), and tallied 4 goals and 4 assists.
His pending signing could help address a position that has been a glaring weakness since the club’s only real #10, Eric Stevenson, left in early 2017 with a medical release. Albadawi’s addition should help FCC tremendously as they have struggled to create scoring chances the last two years relying too much on long crosses into the box. For 2017, the midfielder was second in the NASL with 56 chances created and gives Coach Alan Koch another weapon in his arsenal to put goals on the board.
One thread you have seen from most of the signings this offseason is that he has been labeled a “leader of men” and has a high motor. He was given the captain armband in 2017 with NCFC and should be a trendsetter on the pitch with a high work rate.
Albadawi was the subject of a Four Four Two article earlier this season by Jeff Rueter. In the article Rueter lists the midfielder as “possibly the best American talent in the U.S. lower divisions”.
He also quoted former MLS player Jeb Brovsky saying “With time and space facing goal, he will pick you apart… He does well if he can get in that pocket between the outside back and center back and get half-turned on the ball. All Nazmi needs is a coach to take a chance on him and help him grow. I think he can be very good in MLS.”
Where does he fit in 2018?
For most of the 2017 season, Nazmi was employed in the attacking midfield of their 4-1-4-1 but played mostly behind the lone striker ahead of the #8. If this rumor is true, look for Koch to slot Albadawi in the central midfield ahead of a Kenney Walker/ Tyler Gibson or Corben Bone paring in a 4-2-3-1 or behind the forward striker in a 4-4-2. Expect him to run at guys in the final third to create space for other players. He can also cover a lot of ground and can pick out a killer pass catching sleeping defenses off guard.
No doubt this guy has a lot of talent as stated by Brovsky. If FC Cincinnati were to gain an expansion slot to MLS in 2019/2020, it would be fair to expect that Albadawi would make the jump with the club.
@bradleysweigel for @CincySoccerTalk
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