The Staff of Cincinnati Soccer Talk is bringing back our End of Season Awards for the 2018 FC Cincinnati season. On Monday we released our 2018 Fan-Vote Player of the Year Emmanuel Ledesma. On Tuesday we released our 2018 Goal of the Year followed by Wednesday’s 2018 Funny Awards and today’s 2018 Moment of the Year. We will release the 2018 Staff-Voted Player of the Year on Friday. Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk as we look back on our favorite points of the 2018 FC Cincinnati season.
Watch the videos of our favorite moments of 2018 and why a staff member voted for that specific event:
1.) USL Regular Season Championship
Bill – Americans love playoffs — the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series. It’s exciting to watch a match knowing that the loser is eliminated and that on any given night, even a great team can be defeated by a lesser team. But this fails to recognize the truly great teams. The teams that during the long grind of the season find a way to rise to the top. When they face many teams with many different playing styles, they rise to the top. When facing injuries or suspensions, they rise to the top. Some teams peak at the right time for the postseason, but to rise to the top great teams have to be consistent winners for the entire season.
Undefeated in more than 90 percent of the matches it played, FC Cincinnati has broken USL records and proven it is a great team. It tied the record for concurrent games undefeated (22) with the possibility of breaking that record with its last regular-season match on Saturday. It has the record for the most consecutive wins (10).
When the team hoisted the Championship Shield over their heads at the last home game, that was more than a moment. The team sang and danced and shared its moment with the stadium, its fans and the city. It celebrated the months of training and the grind of match after match and the collective effort it required to get results — results which propelled the Orange and Blue to the top of the table weeks before the end of the season. Results that proved there is no better team in the USL.
2.) First Road Match at Indy Eleven
Bryan – I will admit that this was my first ever road match as an FC Cincinnati supporter. Coming off the win in Charleston, many FCC supporters were trying to gauge whether that match was a fluke and if this team was for real. When I arrived in Indianapolis that afternoon and went to the pre-match pub, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Nearly 1,000 FCC supporters were crammed into this bar or overflowed into the alley and parking lot. It was incredible! The hype was real, and there was a buzz to this crowd. As the supporters marched into Lucas Oil Stadium, almost every Indy fan turned, and their jaws dropped. More than 1,000 traveling supporters filled three sections and parts of others to bring a tremendous atmosphere to the game. Several other things stood out to me for that match. I won’t forget Emery Welshman’s goal off a great Emmanuel Ledesma cross, or the PK save from Evan Newton. This was also the match where Jack McInerny laid out Kenney Walker, and I’m not sure many can forget that. That 1-0 result was huge for FCC and helped give the players confidence going forward. Easily my favorite moment of the year.
3.) MLS Announcement
Nick – When FC Cincinnati launched in 2015 as a USL expansion franchise there were brief mentions about the club’s goal of ultimately reaching Major League Soccer. At that time, MLS expansion was in its infancy and many larger media markets were jockeying for position in the expansion race. FC Cincinnati had barely even played a game yet. Two seasons of eye-popping recording-breaking attendance and a magical U.S. Open Cup run in 2017 propelled FC Cincinnati towards the front of expansion line. After some long, hard-fought, drawn out battles with Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati, a stadium deal was agreed upon in the coveted West End. Despite having to wait more than five months from Major League Soccer’s original expansion timeframe, May 29 finally became a day that will go down in Cincinnati lore. MLS and commissioner Don Garber welcomed Cincinnati as the 26th MLS expansion franchise in front of a raucous crowd at Rhinegiest in Over-the-Rhine. After 40 years, Cincinnati once again became a three professional sports team town.
4.) Fanendo Adi Goal vs. Pittsburgh
Ken – To me the biggest moment was Fanendo Adi’s goal against Pittsburgh. You see, Cincinnati’s professional teams of recent memory have lacked the ability to overcome deficits or hold onto a victory in big games. Remember the Bengals’ recent playoff loss to another Pittsburgh team or any number of primetime games, the Reds’ collapse after a two-game lead over the San Francisco Giants, and even FCC’s loss to Charleston in 2016. Moments like that are what Cincinnati has become accustomed to, victories that were in our grasp but just slipped away. However, this team is different. It has embraced the challenges and has overcome them time and again. The Adi goal to me was a sign FCC had a winner’s mentality. FCC showed it is able to overcome adversity, and not against some middle-table team but a well-coached team and a defensive stalwart at that. Adi’s goal was the crescendo of the evening. The score provided three crucial points in a game they struggled to get a grasp, but it also was soul-crushing to the opponent and its fans — a feeling Cincinnati knows all too well. The goal and victory showed Cincinnati it has a team that finds ways to win and not lose. Thank you Adi and FC Cincinnati!