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FC Cincinnati Adds Adi & Alashe as First MLS Signings

FC Cincinnati confirmed what was reported on Sunday, that Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers) and Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes) have been acquired in preparation for the 2019 Major League Soccer season.

FC Cincinnati confirmed what was reported on Sunday, that Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers) and Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes) have been acquired in preparation for the 2019 Major League Soccer season. Both players were in training on Monday and are expected to join the USL club for the remainder of 2018 season.

Fanendo Adi

FC Cincinnati has acquired Adi (pronounced fah-NEN-doh AHH-dee) in exchange for $450,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and $400,000 in MLS Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). Portland could also receive up to $100,000 in future TAM for Adi’s on-field performance, as well as a portion of any future international transfer value through the 2020 summer transfer window. According to MLSSoccer.com, a deal has not yet been finalized, but it is anticipated Adi join FC Cincinnati for the rest of the club’s 2018 USL season.

“We’re pleased to add Fanendo as our first MLS Designated Player,” president and general manager Jeff Berding said. “He’s a tremendously talented player who is also a standout citizen in the community. The fact that he has agreed to join us is a clear demonstration of his passion for leadership and winning. He will immediately begin to create his new legacy with another very special fan base. We can’t wait to see him out on the field at Nippert Stadium.”

Adi announced that he was leaving the Timbers after Saturday’s match after he reportedly asked for a trade. With a guaranteed compensation in 2018 of $1,933,33.33, the 27-year-old Nigerian forward will be FC Cincinnati’s first Designated Player in club history. His 54 career goals with the Timbers ranks second in club history but his form has dipped in 2018 netting just three times in new coach Gio Savarese’s system. He is a U.S. permanent resident and will occupy a domestic roster spot.

“Fanendo is a proven MLS star who has realized success year after year in Portland,” technical director Luke Sassano said. “We’re thrilled to have him join our squad this season, get acclimated to both Cincinnati and our club. We expect he will find success as he settles in. By bringing Fanendo onboard now, we hope to show players both within MLS and outside MLS that we are willing to commit early for to the right players to continue our established winning culture from day one.”

Fatai Alashe

Midfielder Fatai Alashe (pronounced fah-TIE  ahh-LAHSH-shay) joins FC Cincinnati on loan from San Jose for the remainder of the 2018 season and he will be added to the team’s USL roster pending league and federation approval. Alashe’s MLS rights were acquired from San Jose in exchange for $60,000 in MLS Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). San Jose will also receive future considerations if Alashe hits certain statistical benchmarks with FC Cincinnati next season in 2019.

“Fatai is a player who brings a wealth of MLS experience at a young age,” said Koch. “He’s shown his quality over the last few seasons in MLS and we envision him contributing to our team both short and long term. His character and persona will be a valuable addition to our locker room. As soon as he is back to match fitness we will integrate him into the squad.”

Alashe was the number 4 pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and was a member of the U-23 US Men’s National Team. In 2015, he came in second in MLS Rookie of the Year voting and earned a call-up to the 2016 US Men’s National Team January camp. Alashe has 85 appearances with the Earthquakes in four seasons.

Recently Alashe came under controversy when he got into a dust-up with Quakes head coach Mikael Stahre. The central defensive midfielder was substituted at halftime after being inserted into the match in the 41st minute. The Earthquakes say that Alashe suffered a groin strain but the 24-year-old was visibly upset and confronted Stahre on the sideline.

Both players rights were acquired under MLS salary guidelines.  GAM (General Allocation Money) and TAM (Targeted Allocation Money), are mechanisms that allow teams to spend more freely on players. These funds can be traded as assets and are used to “buy down” players salary cap hit.

When asked about the timeframe for Adi and Alashe to hit the field, coach Koch responded with, “they both had light sessions today….but we will integrate these players as quick as we can.”


The Deals

Adi will fill a Designated Player spot on Cincinnati’s 2019 MLS roster. The forward’s 2018 base salary was $1,275,000 with the Portland Timbers, with a guaranteed salary of $1,933,333 that includes a player’s base salary and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player’s contract. Adi’s original MLS contract was extended in 2016 using Targeted Allocation Money. Adi’s contract will carry the Maximum Salary Budget Charge (2018 – US$504,375).

His transfer fee of between $850,000 and $950,000 is a good piece of business for FC Cincinnati. Comparable players have fetched higher numbers in recent history with Columbus receiving $1,050,000 ($300,000 in 2018 Targeted Allocation Money, $450,000 in 2019 Targeted Allocation Money, $300,000 in General Allocation Money, 2019 international roster spot) for Justin Meram and Chicago receiving $1,200,000 ($900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, $300,000 in General Allocation Money) for David Accam.

Several MLS pundits have commented that a player of Adi’s quality could have been sold for more if he was not on such a high contract. His goal scoring form has dipped due to a mix of injuries in 2017 and a formation switch in 2018. This deal can easily be looked at as a steal if Adi returns to his 16 goal form in 2016.

Fatai Alashe is currently earning a base salary of $107,993 in 2018, with a guaranteed salary of $124,243. His transfer fee of $135,000, ($60,000 in MLS Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) along with performance bonuses) is fair as well. CB Jared Watts was traded for $100,000 in allocation monies in March, while backup forward Patrick Mullins was shipped to Columbus for $150,000 in allocation. This rate seems fair as Alashe is a competent midfielder who when in form can start over 20 matches for Cincinnati in MLS.


Impact

Should Adi return to form, he will be a game changer under Alan Koch. FCC’s manager has preferred a target striker system and he now has his man. Adi has a finishing rate of around 17%, averaging a goal every 2 and 1/3 games. The Nigerian should be a starter on day one for FCC in a hold-up role. Adi has relied on his pace, strength, and positioning to be one of the top scorers in MLS over the past five seasons.

Alashe is a buy-low move that could pay off from day one. This former USMNT call-up has the physical tools to succeed in MLS and was compared to former USMNT midfielder Ricardo Clark by longtime MLS coach Dom Kinnear.  Alashe finished second in the 2015 Rookie of the Year voting even though he is used more in a defensive role. His salary of $124,243 is still pretty reasonable. I’d expect for Alashe to compete for a spot in the 18 in 2019 with the starting XI not too far from reach.


@bryanweigel for @CincySoccerTalk

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