Cincinnati Soccer Talk staff predicts 2024 FCC season

As is tradition, multiple members of the CST staff will be placing their predictions for the upcoming season. Also listed will be that person’s prediction from last season if they did so.

Boston Brazzell-9th last season

Last year’s first-place finish was a bit surprising. We all thought FC Cincinnati would be pretty good but if you think about the length of the season and how skilled overall a club needs to be to earn first place, it hurts the head. It takes skill, quality, luck, key players not getting injured and others stepping up when inevitably someone does. I’m not sure all those dominos will fall the right way again. I’m entering 2024 the same way I entered 2023. I expect FCC to be good and have a home playoff match. In a way, making the playoffs and winning MLS CUP is a lesser feat at this point in time than winning the Supporters Shield. Saying a club will be first in a tournament of limited participants and limited matches is just better odds than saying they will beat every club in MLS (or even just the East) in season-long points. For that reason, I back FCC off a bit and say they finish top 4, and to avoid a cop-out answer, I’ll narrow it down to 3rd place.

Jeremy Miller-1st last season

I wasn’t at all surprised by the shield last year as I had predicted it in 2023 pre-season. It’s tradition at this point for me and I’m not stopping now but anyone can look at the pieces in place and see how everything can line up for another run. Boupendza is now in his second year and that’s what players need to really go off so the Golden Boot is now in play. In addition to another shield, FCC will also be taking the Cup.

Jonathan Foster-4th last season

I know others weren’t surprised, but I still think there is a lot of luck that goes into winning the Supporters Shield beyond just having a good team. Some of the luck is player health and some is schedule congestion. We have seen several teams have successful seasons, then struggle to match that performance with an early season run in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and I expect FCC to encounter the same troubles. Now, I don’t think they miss out on the playoffs like Seattle did a few years ago, and expect that they comfortably make the playoffs, but I think it is hard to envision them hosting a playoff game this year. I mean, I think it would be hard to host a playoff game this year regardless, because the East is really really good, but with one extra tournament, it just means more chances to stumble into a hole that will be hard to climb out of later in the season.

Impact Player: Matt Miazga. Last year ended with Miazga sitting in the booth due to his actions. The team has been noticeably better with him on the field, and he has become the vocal leader on the field for the team. If we are going to rise to the heights we can this year, then it’s going to require Miazga leading the defense and being on the field.

Justin Blair-3rd last season

In 2023, we knew what we had coming into the season. With our dominant attacking trio and an improved defense, competing for a top Eastern Conference table position was the expectation. Coming into 2024, FCC has question marks. Moving on from Brandon Vazquez, Santiago Arias, Junior Moreno and Yerson Mosquera is not an easy ask. The signings of Corey Baird, Pavel Bucha, Miles Robinson and hopefully Luca Orellano feels like we have plugged those holes, but we all know it doesn’t quite work like that when humans are involved. Relationships, understanding each other and playing for each other are key when building any team, let alone a championship-caliber one. I think FCC will need to lean heavily on the leadership this locker room already has with its players and coaches to pull this thing together. The talent is certainly there to lift a cup but it will take time for that chemistry and understanding to marinate. Between that maturation period for FCC, there are several competitions we need to consider. The U.S. Open Cup will probably still hold the same value to FCC in 2024 as more of a development cup tournament. The two continental tournaments in CONCACAF Champions Cup and Leagues Cup will probably hold more significance in prioritizing who will be available to compete. Will all those competitions considered; I believe FCC will have a lower output in the 2024 points race. I think we can rule out repeating as Supporter’s Sheild Champions for 2024. I could easily see us finishing anywhere from third to sixth in the east. But for the sake of making a prediction, I’ll settle on fifth place.

Impact player: Obinna Nwobodo will be called on to do double duty this season with the absence of Junior Moreno. Moreno was typically a stable presence in the midfield that rarely got caught too high up the field. With the addition of Pavel Bucha and potentially Luca Orellano, the overall attacking mindset of the team has shifted. Nwobodo will be called on to be the dominant do-it-all central defensive midfielder. I have no doubt in his ability and feel like the added load will spotlight him enough to crack the MLS All-Star roster.

Geoff Tebbetts-1st last season

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