This past FC Cincinnati season was memorable in more ways than one. This club once again broke multiple records, to end their final season in the USL. With the club now focused solely on its transition into MLS, one thing is certain, this club is unlike anything we have seen in this city. While the Bengals and Reds have prominent spots in the city’s sports landscape, FC Cincinnati has thrust itself into the Cincinnati sports spotlight.
FC Cincinnati has risen up the ranks in the Queen City, not only for its play on the field but what it has done off the field. What this club means to myself, my family and friends will never be matched. We don’t know what the future holds, but I know this club has made a measurable mark on my family and friends. I know that my situation is like many others when it comes to attending FCC games. Every game at Nippert Stadium is an event for my family and my neighbors. The rush to get to our seats. The rush to see the Bailey march into the stadium. Aside from the game itself, these are the things they love to experience at an FC Cincinnati match.
One of the things that will stick with me is the fact the club and its players showed my kids what it is like to have fun in sports. All of three of my boys look at FC Cincinnati in the highest regard. Every day this summer, my boys would be pretending they were FC Cincinnati players while playing soccer in our backyard. Every day, they are wearing their FC Cincinnati jerseys while playing soccer with the neighbor kids. When my oldest son scored a goal in his youth soccer game, he celebrated just like Jimmy McLaughlin. That is the impression this club has left on my family.
The most amazing thing about this team is its commitment to its fans. After every home game, players would be out for almost an hour, signing autographs for their fans. No matter how many times they got autographs, my boys loved going down to meet the players again and again. The players made them feel like they were special. They adore Jimmy McLaughlin, Spencer Richey and Emmanuel Ledesma. Getting a chance to meet their heroes is one of the greatest moments in their young lives. Countless times, we have seen players walking through the parking garage. Each time, those players have acknowledged my boys. For children, the first impression of meeting an athlete is crucial, and FC Cincinnati players continuously go above and beyond.
Over the last three years, you could see this city embrace this club and this club embrace this city. The players seemed to love their time in the Queen City. That love continued to grow from 2016 and blossomed this year in my family.
FC Cincinnati is truly a special club. They have touched my family in such a positive way, I couldn’t be any more grateful. Now, with the transition to MLS in full force, I remain hopeful this club will maintain that special place in the hearts of my family and friends. A major key to keeping that special place is maintaining player identity, as my colleague, Paul Barvincak writes here.
Follow Chris on Twitter @iamchrisasbrock