Just when you think FC Cincinnati’s roster is near completion, it was leaked by reporter Jeff Rueter and now confirmed by FC Cincinnati that Coach Alan Koch pulled off another shock signing with the transfer of defensive midfielder Richie Ryan. The Irishman joins Cincinnati from NASL regular season champion, Miami FC where he started 29 matches totaling 2433 minutes.
— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) February 17, 2018
The 33-year-old is a two-time NASL Best XI team member including a 2017 selection with current FCC teammates Nazmi Albadawi and Emmanuel Ledesma. He has previously played for Sunderland during their time in the Premier League, Scunthorpe United and Boston United in England; Royal Antwerp in Belgium; Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers in Ireland; Dundee United in Scotland; Ottawa Fury, Jacksonville Armada, and Miami FC while in the NASL.
“Richie is an incredibly talented midfielder who has the skill-set to connect all players on the pitch through his vision and play-making ability,” Head Coach Alan Koch commented in the club’s press release. “His experience and leadership will be invaluable to the group as we enter the 2018 season. We look forward to welcoming him and his family to Cincinnati.”
Ryan fits in with Coach Koch’s theme of adding quality character players. The veteran wore the armband for his most recent stops in Ottawa, Jacksonville, and Miami. Ryan moved to Miami in the middle of the 2016 season with the Magic City club paying a $750,000 transfer fee (then record) and contract extension through 2018.
A product of Belvedere FC (Ireland), Ryan started his professional career at Sunderland. Ryan made two appearances for the club in the Premier League before moving to Scunthorpe. He has many accolades in his career including being named as the 2010 PFAI (Ireland) Players’ Player of the Year with Sligo Rovers when they won the FAI Cup and the League of Ireland Cup. Ryan was named captain for the club’s 2011 season.
The Irishman has had plenty of success in his stop in the NASL, making the 2015 Soccer Bowl with Ottawa and winning the 2017 NASL Spring and Fall Championships with Miami FC. Ryan is no stranger to FC Cincinnati as he went 90 minutes in Miami’s 1-0 defeat to the Orange & Blue.
This addition will probably rank as one of, if not the biggest move in lower level soccer in North America. The midfielder seemed to be staying with Miami in the NASL’s potential transition to a winter calendar, but the opportunity with FC Cincinnati will allow him to display his talents on a huge stage with the Orange & Blue. His signing brings the club to 8 international players. FC Cincinnati has not announced any corresponding moves or the purchase of an additional Intl roster spot.
What Role with Ryan Play?
Ryan comes to FC Cincinnati as one of the best deep-lying playmakers in D2 or perhaps top 10 among US clubs. Traditionally in the “regista” role ala Andrea Pirlo, Ryan will sit just ahead of the center backs most likely in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 linking play forward with his vision and precision long passes.
Adding the Irishman to the squad will assign three distinct roles in the midfield including Ryan’s “regista”. Koch will be able to directly to employ Albadawi in a #10 role behind the striker which should, in theory, allow Kenney Walker to roam the pitch (box-to-box) sniffing out counters or adding numbers into the attack. Ryan will act as the general, which will help organize Koch’s midfield. His ability of when knowing when to push the play or when to drop back and cover the defense will free up the other two mids in dictating play.
Cincinnati struggled to maintain possession in 2017 and Ryan will go a long way in remediating that. He is not a bruiser D-mid like Kyle Beckerman but will influence the match by dictating the lack of chances the opponent will get. Ryan’s passing skills along with veteran decision making will limit costly turnovers in the Cincinnati half hopefully cutting the number of goals conceded in 2018. His added defensive pressure will give the back four the added seconds to set up and become one of the top units in the USL.
Who Gets Left Out?
Corben Bone – I don’t think Bone will miss too many games. Corben has battled hard over the past two seasons to earn his spot and I think this move will continue to motivate him. Bone, in my opinion, is better as an attacking mid vs. having to be patient in a defensive role. Look for him to be a spot starter in Walker or Albadawi’s roles, or expect him to come off the bench with his insane work rate over the last 20+ minutes of a match.
Tyler Gibson – Let’s face it. This injury is probably why Ryan is here. The younger Gibson will have 4-5 months to heal and with Ryan in camp, there is less pressure for FCC & Gibson to push the injury. When Gibson does return to action in the summer, he will probably not go right into the XI, but will hopefully be able to spell the aging Ryan in several contests. Very possible that Gibson could also push Walker for time late in the year.
Will Seymore – Seymore was looked at as someone with immense upside and could have played a bigger role before Ryan. I still have faith that he will factor in a couple matches, but his playing time will drop with the addition of Ryan. They one good piece about this signing for Seymore is that he will have a great model to help improve his game.
Garrett Halfhill – The star of the second preseason match was most likely going to be a bench player or spot starter in CB or D-Mid roles. I don’t see much of a way for him to break into the midfield now. This is another player who could benefit from watching Ryan.
Regardless of who gets on the field or in the game-day squad, Ryan should have a tremendous impact on FC Cincinnati for 2018 and beyond.
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for the most up to date news regarding FC Cincinnati. CST will have match coverage of Thursday’s contest vs. the Indy XI. Check out @CincySoccerTalk for live tweets of the match.