FC Cincinnati has finalized what fans hope to be the key addition to its roster for the 2021 season.
Former MLS Best XI playmaker Luciano Acosta is joining the Orange and Blue, according to the club’s press release on Wednesday. The Argentine was acquired via transfer from Liga MX side Atlas FC and will occupy a Designated Player slot. FC Cincinnati will send D.C. United $250,000 in general allocation money for Acosta’s MLS rights plus the potential for future GAM based on agreed-upon incentives, according to a club press release. Acosta’s contract is for three seasons with an additional option season, according to the release.
“Lucho is a proven attacking midfielder in Major League Soccer and is a welcome addition to our team,” FC Cincinnati general manager Gerard Nijkamp said in the release. “He was a vital player for D.C. United in his four seasons in the league and we are confident a player of his talent profile is a strong complement to our current roster. We look forward to welcoming Lucho to Cincinnati as we continue building for the upcoming season and beyond.”
This move has had many twists and turns after initial interest in Acosta was first reported by the Athletic’s Pablo Maurer and Sam Stejskal.
Kristian Dyer of Sports Illustrated and MLS Multiplex stated that Atlas will receive $3 million as part of the transfer in what is another big splash for Nijkamp.
Expect Acosta to be a key presence in FC Cincinnati’s attacking third, meshing with Brenner and Jurgen Locadia. The transaction comes with ideal timing — FC Cincinnati just began preseason training last week and should have Acosta when they travel to Orlando for a series of friendlies from March 23 through April 3.
Acosta has two goals and an assist in 23 appearances with Atlas in the 2020-21 Liga MX season. He’s an MLS veteran, logging four seasons with D.C. United, most recently in 2019. During his time there, he notched 24 goals and 28 assists in 126 appearances.
Speaking to reporters on a videoconference call on March 8, FC Cincinnati coach Jaap Stam said the club needed one extra player in the midfield. Acosta would be that player, but Stam also said an addition on the back line is needed, and an additional attacker is desired.
As announced Wednesday by MLS, FC Cincinnati begins its 2021 season April 17 at Nashville SC and begins play at West End Stadium on May 16 against Inter Miami CF.
-Rob Peirce contributed to this report.