A moment for a true story.

When I was in middle school, both of my parents lost their jobs at the same time. This wasn’t a freak occurrence or anything – they worked at the same company, and that company had a round of layoffs. They had a handful of kids, two of which were toddlers, and no income or

significant savings to fall back on. Even though I was young, and had no part in managing the finances, I was well aware of the stress on them and their relationship.

One day, a more popular kid approached me and shared his thoughts about my parents, their value to the economy, and my family’s income bracket. Now, to be clear, this was fair criticism. My parents were, in fact, unemployed. They had, in fact, met whatever criteria was used for the layoffs (presumably, they would not have been laid off if the company had viewed them as more valuable). And, it was true, my family did not have money to spare. So, I agreed with my bully that my parents were failures, and we had a good laugh.

OK, that last part is a lie. Instead, I put my hands around his throat, he pushed me back, and we scuffled until a teacher broke us up and gave us an in-school suspension.
All this is to say that it might not be all about soccer when I see shit like this

and it really pisses me off.

Mind you, the thread above had nothing to do with FC Cincinnati, it was about the NFL playoffs. Nevertheless, a member of FC fandom felt the need to gratuitously and needlessly drag one of our own players, our highest profile player at that, all for the prize of a retweet from Matt freaking Doyle. Be Best, people.

Look, I’ll be the first in line to call for Nijkamp’s head, complain that none of last season’s heralded signings came even close to meeting expectations, and demand that Berding be shipped off with the last vat of Dixie Chili. But one thing I will not do (like say “fooser”) is join in with a group of outsiders in attacking our club. And I certainly will not initiate such a conversation just for a measly like or retweet from, again, MATT … DOYLE. A man in his 40s who spends his time (when he’s not posting breathless commentary about that time an MLS team strung four consecutive passes together) sharing pictures of his cats and writing Elizabeth Warren fan fic. (I actually like Matt Doyle fine, although he should change his Twitter avatar.)

Has our team been bad the last two years? Sure! But any idiot can look at a table. A real brain genius fan, however, can tell you why, if a few things had swung the other way, FC’s rosters would have actually been … fine.

You think I’m kidding? [Takes a deep breath…]

Going into the 2019 season, FC Cincinnati had some real ballers on its roster. Unlike many expansion teams before it, FC had a bona fide MLS designated player – Fanendo Adi, who is still the second all-time leading goal scorer in Portland Timbers history, who has two thirds of the goals of Diego Valeri, in less than half as many games. In addition, FC had a goalkeeper who had started in La Liga and in the European Championship, arguably the best left back in MLS (Greg Garza), an MLS Best XI center back (Kendall Waston), another center back who started for an MLS champion (Nick Hagglund), and a right back duo that included a longtime starter in Ligue 1 (Mathieu Deplagne) and another MLS champion (Alvas Powell). Rounding out the roster were players who had won the Carabao Cup (Roland Lamah), scored 10 goals the previous season (Darren Mattocks), played against Ronaldo in the Champions League (Leonardo Bertone), won the Premier League with Arsenal (Justin Hoyte), and appeared for the US Men’s National Team (Kekuta Manneh, Eric Alexander, and Caleb Stanko). Just after the season started, FC added Kenny Saief – a player on a big-time Belgian team who many people were clamoring to start for the Nats. This was, by any objective standard, a very talented roster, without even getting into rising stars like Allen Cruz and Frankie Amaya.

And that roster showed out. After a rough first game, FC found itself firmly in playoff position by early April, riding the best expansion start in league history, when the injury bug bit. In the 78th minute of a home draw against Sporting Kansas City, Garza went down. In 2019, FC went 4-4-5 in games where Garza played, for 1.3 points per game. Extrapolated for a whole season, that is 44.2 points – New England made the playoffs that year with 45 points.

And Garza wasn’t the only problem  Waston (the captain), Mattocks, Cruz, and Powell all missed significant time with injury or their national teams, and none of them had more than 25 appearances in the league.  Let me know when you find an MLS team that looks good missing five starters for much of the season.  

I’m not saying it was a perfect roster build. You can find flaws in anything if you look hard enough. Adi never  performed as a DP, it would have been nice if Saief hadn’t had to leave the team after only a few games, and we should have hired an experienced MLS coach to put together a system that could compete in this league. But…

Sorry, I blacked out. What was I saying?

Oh yeah – if I see any of you taking sides against the family in public again, I’m [CENSORED - FOLLOW ME ON PARLER].