During Monday night’s CST live show, GM Jeff Berding said FC Cincinnati was focused on winning in 2018. While the in-season roster moves have been fewer than last season, the staff is not against picking up pieces that can plug in and help. Veteran midfielder Michael Lahoud (@MikeLahoud) should be able to jump in quickly bringing experience to the squad from his 122 MLS appearances and 50 NASL starts.
“We are incredibly excited to bring Michael into the group,” said FCC head coach Alan Koch in the club’s press release. “We are adding another excellent player who is very versatile. We look forward to welcoming him to the team and getting him up to match fitness as quickly as possible. His addition will add to the excellent healthy competition that we already have in the group.”
Lahoud was the 9th overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by Chivas USA and ended with the Philidelphia Union. The 31-year-old most recently played two seasons with Miami FC and finished 2017 completing 90.3% of passes. He recorded 30 interceptions and assisted in four goals from the midfield role. Lahoud has been used in several roles by teams but is traditionally deployed as a defensive mid. Passing accuracy aside, Lahoud proved to be a stable part of setting up a defensive cover with eighteen clearances in Miami’s final NASL season. The midfielder did play 76 minutes in Miami FC’s US Open Cup defeat to FC Cincinnati in August.
Off the pitch, Lahoud is known for his volunteer work. He is active with the charity Schools for Salone, an organization that supports education and builds schools in his native country of Sierra Leone, West Africa. In 2015, he was a co-recipient of the FIFPro Merit Award for his efforts in bringing a school to children displaced by a civil war. Miami supporters also partnered with him on several occasions to raise money for this cause. In 2016, the NASL gave Michael Lahoud a Humanitarian of the Year award. Check out this Players’ Tribune article chronicling Lahoud’s journey to become a professional soccer player in the United States.
Lahoud recently featured in a March 25th friendly vs. St. Thomas University for Miami FC B. In that match, he played 60 minutes as a part of a CM trio in a 4-3-3 formation with the NPSL side scoring seven times and conceding none during his shift.
This is an interesting move for Technical Director Luke Sassano and Head Coach Alan Koch. A player of Lahoud’s caliber is almost impossible to turn down, but how and when will he be able to break into the current squad? If Coach Koch continues with three central midfielders, many would think he would have to battle Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Tyler Gibson (when healthy), or Will Seymore for the spot next to the former Miami FC teammate Richie Ryan. The addition of Lahoud may allow FCC to become more fluid on the field switching to a possession based-short passing style but Koch can also utilize Lahoud passing ability to break down defenses on the counter. This move seems to fall into the “win now” category. At 31, Lahoud could potentially move with FCC to MLS, but he is clearly an incredible addition to a USL club.
“The opportunity to add a player with his experience, quality, and versatility to our already deep roster is another step forward as we push to achieve our goals this year,” said Technical Director Luke Sassano. “His professionalism and mentality reflect our core player principles, and we look forward to his contributions to FCC both on and off the field.”
Even with Lahoud’s signing, FC Cincinnati would appear to have one extra international spot after the recent departure of Josu. That international spot purchased earlier this season should stay open as Lahoud holds American citizenship.
Scouting Report – Magic City Soccer’s Omar Moubayed (@Moubayed11)
We Reached out to Magic City Soccer (@MagicCitySoccer) and got their take after watching his time in Miami. “Mike Lahoud is the quintessential backbone of any club. There is a reason why he played in 30 matches in 2017 for Miami FC and started 29 of them only coming out of the game early in one occasion. Lahoud is dynamic in the midfield to play any of the wide roles and as a number six. Throughout the year there was a couple of occasions where Lahoud filled in at the fullback position when Nesta was in a pinch. His passing game is equivalent to a seasoned sniper, however, don’t expect him to find the back of the net. In 45 NASL games, Lahoud posted one goal and five assists with Miami FC but it’s the work that doesn’t show on the box score that will make Lahoud a fan favorite among the Cincy faithful.”
Check out Magic City Soccer’s story on Michel Lahoud announcing his departure from Miami FC.