Three seasons of Major League Soccer action has left fans of The FC with the worst feeling of all: The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day. The chants that filled us with hope had now been changed, like an evil Weird Al song. “Cincinnati here we go into the depths of despair and regret” ringing out across the Barley. No matter what the capos tried to do, this is all that runs through my mind during "Titi Woop Woop."

Looking back, we were foolish to expect anything different. Just 4 or 5 windows, y'all. Just 4 or 5 windows. However, fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. FCC eased some fears with a splashy offseason signing, the kind teams like us aren’t supposed to make. The holy triumvirate of Fanendo, Jürgen, and Brenner rose to the heavens on clouds of orange and blue, looked down, and saw that it was good. Beyond that, a Chelsea youth academy product graced us during the preseason. Our preseason darling. Our two first named midfielder maestro. How could he abandon us in such a dire time? Little did we all know, he was just setting the stage for his glorious return to save us from the clutches of tree-based kitchenware, but our savior from Bath was too late.

Then the season began. Early goals against Nashville had FC fans believing in the impossible. Holding on for dear life for a tie foreshadowed the harsh truth. So many feet upon which the grass felt a whispery tale of treachery upon which they laid upon for days upon days of games. Losses quickly piled up, with the cries of “Jaap Out!” growing more powerful by the week. Sure, it's easy to look at FCC and think they exist in hell, stuck in perpetual torment and suffering. But in truth FCC exists in a sick form of Dante's purgatory. Bound by the sins of their past, surrounded by the images of those who they should be, and forced to climb the mountain.

More moves were made, with more veteran players joining the fray. “Vermeer should be starting every game ever no question best keeper in this clubs history. Best points per game as a keeper as wellJaap would say to anyone listening. A legendary USMNT player was soon arriving as well: Geoff Cameron is my spirit animal. Anyone who hits ammonia before they walk on the field is not to be messed with! The record didn’t improve. I just… I don't know, man… For all the talk of progress, there was lots and lots of yikes and ope’s, and undeniably they've made a dog's breakfast of it. Training was its own bizarre creature. As the forwards practiced their shots in the distance, Yuya Kubo solemnly stared off into the distance from the midfield, seemingly uninterested in the tackling drills. His defeated gaze had the look of a captive lion, remembering The Hunt, the smell of prey, the freedom.

Jeff Berding sat, engine running, in his SUV outside the fccincinnati training grounds. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Dutch had come here to destroy the losing culture, not join it. He knew what he had to do. Jaap was out. The reason the Dutch system didn’t work is because we didn’t commit to it Totally. A new coach bump would surely change the course of a true roller coaster of a season - except for the fact that the roller coaster was more of a thrill ride and that ride was Drop Zone without the brakes. An unmitigated disaster. 

The team began to gel without Andrew Gutman, which surprised many. Gelling is good, but losing persisted. But rest assured, Frankie Amaya hasn't played any better since leaving. Fans moved beyond results, and collectively decided to forget who’s a better GK, experiencing new depths of the human psyche match after match had left them questioning reality itself. Results with unbelievable scorelines, with Sunday morning’s the perfect time to rehash what went wrong. This most recent game, for example; It was the sort of morning in which you wondered if you were hallucinating or the sky really was a weird post-tornado green. 

Then you opened the window and saw the devastation and realized that nothing will ever be the same. Could the ever smiling FC mascot even endure this? Gary believed in the orange and blue light, the orgasmic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning—So we beat on, spoons against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Lest we forget the occasional bright spot. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, it did utter “Let’s Go Brandon” as it touched Vasquez with its appendage of noodles. Vasquez, he did take this blessing and did make many goals. A whoosh of time goes by and we return to Yes! I am finally dead inside. Ope, more hope. Please make it stop.” But still, why in the hell didn't Brandon Vazquez get more starts earlier in the season? Dude is a stud.

Soccer.

Another loss endured, basement cemented. Season tickets renewed, pain accepted. Tyrone Marshall had given it his all, and even showed what could be possible for the next manager. Who knew playing players in their natural position would help them perform better? Nights like Wednesday against Nashville will cast a long shadow on the offseason. The cold air was symbolic of the chill every fan felt in their soul. When the fourth goal went in there was no more anger, just laughter and acceptance of the inevitable. Get prepared for an endless off-season followed by a very similar roster in 2022. Watching Vasquez and Haaglund ease into their ice baths for a friendly game of trivia became a welcome opportunity to reflect on my own icy resistance to embracing this roster.

Can we bring the Dutch to the ICC to put them on trial for war crimes committed by them against our club? It’s the question on all of our minds. Man who avoided following Cincinnati sports for decades until FCC joined MLS is found to be the last sporting soul in the tri state has NOW officially been crushed by the city’s legendary curse. It's a special kind of mental captivity to be up with 2 goals and know we still won’t win. It’s that captivity we must free ourselves of.

As Ben Lundt slowly put down the phone, a thought came to his mind…. Maybe it wasn’t Pat Brennan that he was angry with, but God himself. Our God knows brighter days are ahead. We’ll take our losses. We’ll take the jokes. We’ll take the insults and the finger-pointing laughs in the face. I look forward to the day when we get to make the jokes, laugh, and blow out other teams 6-1. But,  until that day, Cincy Til I Die. We have a lot more wooden spoon winning to do. 

To quote Bo Burnham, “I feel like shit. A big ol motherfucking duffel bag of shit.”

The tombstone of this season will have a poem carved on it:
Joey in the middle, Ja'marr up top.

Yes! I am finally dead inside. Ope, more hope. Please make it stop.

Trußt the prōcess.