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Mailbag: Transfers, squad rotation and PBS in 2026

In this CST mailbag, we answer questions about possible MLS transfers, squad rotation and Paul Brown Stadium as a possible 2026 World Cup stadium site.

Photo Credit: Alex Vehr

 

Last week CST solicited our audience for questions pertaining to FC Cincinnati’s transition from USL to MLS as an expansion team, MLS as a whole or any soccer questions in general. Here are a few of those questions answered in our mailbag. If you have an FCC, MLS or other soccer-related question, submit it to us via Twitter, Facebook or feedback@cincinnatisoccertalk.com.

Question from Nick Roth (@redlegsfan96): 

@cincysoccertalk @MLS @fccincinnati Should FCC decide to target an international transfer, who could we reasonably afford, and who should fans look for?

Answer:

Hi Nick, thanks for the question. As far as specific names go, at the top of many FCC fans’ wish lists might be current U.S. men’s national team players now playing abroad, such as Bundesliga players Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood. Players like these are longshots.

Though Pulisic is on the MLS allocation ranking list, and FCC will be sent to the top of the allocation ranking order next year, he’s been rumored in connection with a transfer to Liverpool and is otherwise simply unattainable for FCC in its inaugural MLS season. Wood is not quite as unrealistic but still a bit of a stretch.

We don’t know who he’s after, but FCC technical director Luke Sassano left for Europe after the official MLS invitation on May 29. According to a recent ExtraTime Radio podcast, FCC is looking to sign one designated player at the start of next year or during the midseason transfer window and a second DP in the transfer window. Also according to ExtraTime, the club is in search of a third, young DP (meeting certain age thresholds would avoid a $150,000 surcharge) as a possibility for 2020.

Question from Gary Randolph (@gsrandolph):

We have a busy schedule coming up but here shortly squad rotation is going to be less of a requirement and more of a luxury. Which players does that help and which does it hurt? Barring injury, do players like Seymore & Laing see the field other than an occasional Wednesday?

Answer:

This is a good question because the rest of the season will basically be an audition for next year’s MLS squad. Expect maybe five to eight current players to make the jump up to MLS. The best answer here is really a series of more questions.

Tyler Gibson is working on being match fit after recovering from his preseason injury. Where does he fit in the midfield? Michael Lahoud is a more-than-capable veteran who makes things run, much like Richie Ryan. Might Kenney Walker be squeezed out, at least for a bit? Nazmi Albadawi and Corben Bone are quite valuable, and the pairing of Emmanuel Ledesma and Danni Konig is arguably the club’s most important. And there’s Will Seymore, as you mentioned.

On the wings, Russell Cicerone has proven he deserves minutes on the pitch in the last few weeks. Ledesma roams where he’s needed but can start as a winger. Don’t forget fan favorite Jimmy McLaughlin or Daniel Haber. Lance Laing is still on the mend, but where does he go when he comes back, and how long will it take for him to be fit? Does Alan Koch put him back in right away or ease him in? And where — at left wing or left back?

There could be a fight for minutes on the back line as well. Sem De Wit was instrumental in the 120-minute clean sheet against Minnesota United in the U.S. Open Cup, and Paddy Barrett has also seen more minutes lately. As captain and center back Dekel Keinan said in the preseason, “We’re going to be tested on the pitch, so we have to show that we deserve to play. If we don’t show we deserve to play, someone else will take the position.”

That statement still applies — and for everywhere on the pitch. Koch and Sassano will definitely have some decisions to make in the coming months.

Question from Jeffrey Lebowski (@CaptainBowski):

@cincysoccertalk @MLS @fccincinnati Why is Paul Brown stadium listed as the potential World Cup location and not the new FCC stadium? Can they work out a deal to make the stadium extra special for the World Cup?

Answer:

The simple answer is attendance. Even at a capacity of 67,402, Paul Brown Stadium is the second-smallest U.S. stadium included in the bid. The smallest stadium capacity in Russia for this year’s World Cup is Kaliningrad Stadium at 35,000, well above the projected 21,000 beginning capacity of FCC’s West End stadium.

The new stadium would be a potential “team base” site for the 2026 World Cup, along with Nippert Stadium and the future FCC training ground.

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