Where we left off last year
2023 season: 69 points, 1st in the Eastern Conference
Life in MLS has been quite the journey for FC Cincinnati. After joining as an expansion team ahead of the 2019 season, Cincy finished at the bottom of the league for three-straight years.
With a change in front office leadership and on-field management, 2022 saw the club make a marked improvement and finish fifth in the East. Last year, the second with Chris Albright as the leader in the front office and Pat Noonan as manager, featured a Supporters’ Shield and a run to the Eastern Conference final. How’s that for a turnaround?
FC Cincinnati no longer resemble anything close to a bottom-feeder. They’re now a model MLS club.
What changed in the offseason
- Miles Robinson, CB: Miles Robinson is an elite center back in MLS. Full stop. By signing him as a free agent, Cincinnati established themselves as a premier destination within the league and found themselves an upgrade on Yerson Mosquera. With his athleticism and some useful passing, Robinson will be a major asset in Pat Noonan's 3-4-1-2 shape, sweeping up behind the backline and starting possession sequences from deep. The 26-year-old isn't a DP in Cincinnati, either.
- Corey Baird, ST: With Brandon Vazquez off to Monterrey, Cincinnati needed to add (at least) one more option up top. Baird has never been anything more than an average MLS forward and he will change the attacking dynamic, but merely fine players have a way of looking good on great teams.
- Pavel Bucha, CM: Joining from the Czech Republic, Bucha will slot next to Obinna Nwobodo as a No. 8 in central midfield. The 25-year-old doesn’t work wonders on the ball, but can progress with his right foot in possession and likes to get forward to crash the box.
- *Luca Orellano, W: Arriving from the Brazilian top-flight, Orellano is a quick, dribbly attacker. According to FBref, the 23-year-old finished in the 91st percentile in successful take-ons per 90 minutes among wingers and attacking midfielders in Brazil last season. Though he doesn’t have experience playing as a wingback, Orellano could take Santiago Arias’ place on the right side of the defense. Still, he’s left-footed, which could make him an awkward fit for that spot. Transitioning to the left wingback role once Alvaro Barreal moves to Europe feels like a better long-term fit.
* Deal is yet to be announced but is likely to happen.