Adi’s Moment Finally Arrives for FC Cincinnati

Adi’s Moment Finally Arrives for FC Cincinnati

The FC Cincinnati community finally got the moment it had been waiting for. Fanendo Adi’s game-winning first goal sparked a team celebration and clinched a playoff berth.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Miller


FC Cincinnati announced the signing of Fanendo Adi as its first MLS Designated Player back on July 30 during the summer transfer window. A month later, Adi finally made his big splash — and how big it was.

The FCC faithful waited for Adi’s first goal, and the big moment finally arrived Saturday at Nippert Stadium. Adi scored in the 88th minute for a 2-1 comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. His late heroics clinched a playoff berth for the Orange and Blue.

The goal came when Kenney Walker passed ahead to Adi on the right side. Adi was nearly fouled outside of the box but muscled past it, shifted left into the box and shot between defenders. He celebrated by streaking to the FCC bench and embracing coach Alan Koch in a bear hug, sparking a team celebration.

“I think he (Koch) wants me here so much,” Adi said of his celebration after the match. “He has supported me, and that’s just to show him I’m very tight to him for everything he has done for me. It’s been a tough time for me, adjusting to the league, to the players and to the city as well, but he’s been there every day for me.”

“I’m very, very proud of him,” Koch said. “This hasn’t been an easy adjustment for him. He’s fought every single day and set himself and his teammates up for success, and you can see a lot of pressure was released. It was a great goal by a great player.”

The club kept an eye on his match fitness, subbing him in a few times during the long homestand in August, with a few shots on goal. He started for the first time last week on the road against Tampa Bay and then came on in the 75th minute Saturday in a position to score in front of the Bailey for the first time. FCC’s rowdiest supporters and indeed all of Nippert exploded with excitement.


FCC had something else to celebrate on Saturday night. The three points, coupled with North Carolina dropping points at home to Tampa Bay, cemented a spot in the USL playoffs.

Koch didn’t address the playoffs in Saturday’s postmatch press conference because FCC couldn’t confirm the club had clinched a spot until afterward. But Koch, typically stoic and reserved, allowed himself to relish the victory a bit even before club officials broke the news.

Goalkeeper Spencer Richey said club president and general manager Jeff Berding gave an “I don’t love Pittsburgh” speech before the match.

“It’s important for our club, it’s important for our city,” Koch said of the result. “Cincinnati and Pittsburgh obviously have a major sports rivalry in so many different sports. We’ve had some amazing battles against Pittsburgh so far this year, and (Saturday) was another one. I’m just happy for the guys. They deal with a lot — work very, very hard. We push them every single day. They suffered a little bit during the course of the game. It was tough — Pittsburgh’s very, very good. But when you weather that and you have individual moments of class that allow you to win the game, the guys deserve to enjoy it.”

It will be FCC’s third trip to the playoffs. The Orange and Blue had first-round exits to Charleston at home in 2016 and at Tampa Bay last season.


FCC will be without left back Pa Konate and midfielder Michael Lahoud next week at Louisville. The pair earned international call-ups and will play in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers on Sept. 9.

Lahoud returns to the Sierra Leone national team and will face Ethiopia in Group F play. Konate, a Sweden native, is using his one-time nationality switch and will play for his ancestral Guinea against the Central African Republic in Group H. Both Sierra Leone and Guinea are 1-0-0 in group play.

This marks the third straight year an FCC player has been called to serve on his national team. Former goalkeeper Dallas Jaye was selected for Guam in World Cup qualifying in March of 2016. Jaye was on the 18-man roster in Guam’s 1-0 loss to Oman but did not sub in.

Victor Mansaray was called up to Sierra Leone’s national team last June for an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Kenya but wasn’t on the 18-man roster for the match. Lahoud — like Mansaray, a native of Freetown — was selected for that match as a sub but did not come on.

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