Santiago Arias “happy for the opportunity”

FC Cincinnati continued its preseason in Clearwater, Florida as Cincinnati Soccer Talk was able to speak with head coach Pat Noonan and new FCC right-back signee Santiago Arias. Here are a few takeaways from that conversation.

Brenner was a main topic during the press conference. 

Summarizing the forward’s offseason, we haven’t seen much of him lately. Brenner was linked to a couple of transfers right before the closure of the European transfer window on February 1st. He was practicing on the side for about a week when reportedly negotiations between FCC and EPL’s Nottingham Forest broke down. This was no doubt a hard blow for Brenner as he once again had an opportunity to move on to Europe evaporate. After the failed transfer negotiation, Brenner has seemingly disappeared from the club. Many speculated on whether he had stepped away out of frustration. This week FCC informed us that Brenner was in his home country Brazil dealing with a family matter.

Noonan clarified Brenner’s current status during the press conference. 

“Transfer stuff is now in the past, it’s more just family related,” Noonan said during the press conference. “So, you know, we are in communication with him. And, you know, it could be as early as 24 hours, but we just have to continue to communicate and make sure on his end that the family matter gets into a place where he’s comfortable coming back and joining the group.”

It is, of course, not ideal to have one of FCC’s key players out in the middle of the preseason. Brenner was in great form before the transfer negotiations. He had a great game against Austin FC finishing with a goal. Now there is some mystery to his current form and how long it may take to get back to that level.

“We’re hoping to get him back as soon as possible in a way where he won’t have lost too much fitness or sharpness, but we’ll handle that when we get him back,” Noonan continued. “You could see it even on the field today, the things that he’s able to do with the ball and the way that he sees and reads the game, he could have certainly helped us.”

Following the Brenner topic, Arias was available for questions. 

The team’s new fullback has been on trial since early to mid-January. The former Atlético Madrid right-back was even named to FCC’s preseason squad. Earlier conversations with Noonan indicated that the club felt good about bringing him in with the club on Thursday, February 9th, announcing Arias’ formal signing with FCC.

“We needed to assess his health, obviously, coming in having been off for quite some time (ankle injury), you want to see the quality, which we expected, but it’s the health of the player and so going through the medicals and all the tests and exams, you know, that was all really good feedback, and a clean bill of health,” Noonan said on the topic of why the trial was so long. 

The right-back said, that on the physical side, he is “100 percent,” also adding that his injuries are fully behind him and it’s been more than a “year-and-a-half” since his last one. 

Concerning Arias’ chemistry with FCC during the trial period, Noonan said that Arias made an “immediate connection” with the team and that they understand where he’s come from, with Noonan specifically mentioning his personality off the field and his play on it. 

Noonan also said that this signing adds experience, quality on the ball and good decision-making in the same area, also saying that he thought Arias would be a player that could go up and down the flank. He also said that “he’s (Arias) a winner,” also divulging that he thought that was an important factor. 

Arias also mentioned the league’s rising skill level during the press conference, where he said that MLS “is raising the level a lot.”

“I have spoken to many players who are here,” Arias said. “I also know some from Colombia who have gone through the league, they have told me a little. I also know because I watch games. I see that now very, very good players are coming … So that is why it seemed interesting for me to resume football here, and I think it is an excellent option not only for me but for many players who have just thought that the MLS league is a low league.

Arias also said it was “important” for him to come to Cincinnati, saying that the club trusted him following the time when he was without a team. 

“So, I’m happy for the opportunity and to prove everything at the beginning of the season,” Arias said.

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