Before the 2019 MLS season kicked off in Cincinnati, the consensus was that the goals would have to come from veterans Fanendo Adi and Darren Mattocks. Adi and Mattocks, on paper, were proven goalscorers in MLS taht knew the league. Mattocks was coming off of a 10 goal campaign in D.C. despite the fact that he didn't play half the season once someone by the name of Wayne Rooney showed up. Adi for his part had scored 50 goals for the Portland Timbers in 120 appearances before moving to FC Cincinnati.

The combined for just 5 goals last year.

It was a disaster on offense.  And on top of the inability to generate goals, Mattocks and Adi didn't quite endear themselves off the pitch as well.  Adi's legal saga is well worn ground for FC Cincinnati fans, having received a DUI while he was recovering from injury. And sources familiar with issues involving Mattocks have said he wasn't the most reliable in training sessions towards the end of the season. A tough season full of bad luck will do that to a player. And you can see why FC Cincinnati would want to move on.

For their part, FCC has already waived Fenando Adi.   While it was originally, and incorrectly, being talked about as a buy-out; a similar yet different roster move in MLS to remove a player. And when it comes to Adi and Mattocks, that difference is key.

Adi being waived means all the other teams in MLS had the chance to put in a bid, how much would they be willing to pay Adi to play for their team.  To my knowledge, there is no minimum here. Whichever team bid the most will then have Adi on their team.  But Adi still makes his full salary he would have with FC Cincinnati, it's just that FC Cincinnati picks up the difference between the salary he would have received and what the highest bidder bid. A weird, MLS only rule in the world of soccer, but helpful in the case of FCC.  That was until the Columbus Crew were the team to put in the winning bid.

Sources familiar with Karma, the universal causal law by which good or bad actions determine the future, are confident Adi will score a hat trick against FC Cincinnati in at least one leg of the Hell is Real derby, maybe both. You can feel it, I can feel it, we all can feel it. But there is a silver lining.  

FC Cincinnati still has their "once per season buy-out option" available. And that option seems destined to meed Darren Mattocks this preseason. This means FC Cincinnati just eats the cost of his salary, but it won't count against their salary cap in 2020.

And this is why Mattocks is the canary in the transfer mine, if he is bought out, that means FC Cincinnati have found a suitable replacement for him in the transfer market.  If they don't? It means they will go into the season with Mattocks as a viable attacking option.

A re-tooled roster with manager Ron Jans at the helm with an entire preseason to instill his attacking game-plan is likely to produce better results. Likely. At the moment, the club could really use reinforcements on the wings and at striker. And given how Mattocks performned on and off the pitch last year, I would not expect him on this roster come Match Day One.  But the transfer rumor mill has dried up and the few targets that we are aware of, Gaston Pereio and Shinji Kagawa in particular, have turned down moved to the Queen City for the time being.

So while fans sit and wait to see who the club will be bringing in to exercise the demons of last season, a lot is going to be riding on Mattocks's roster spot and salary cap charge.