Will Albright Have Nijkamp's Resources?
Tomorrow, Chris Albright will be officially introduced as FC Cincinnati’s next general manager. Albright brings with him years of experience building solid MLS teams utilizing the league’s esoteric rulebook and roster mechanisms. Albright's previous team, the Philadelphia Union, has been a successful franchise without splashing cash on large transfer fees or salaries. A budget conscious general manager certainly feels like a course correction for FC Cincinnati.
But would it be an overcorrection?
FC Cincinnati, despite three years of terrible results, has always been a club not afraid of aiming high and spending to match. The FC entered the 2021 MLS season as a top 5 spending team. Ownership has always committed to spending big to win. The list has been done to death, but the West End Stadium, the Milford training center, the recruitment of a footballing legend as manager, all make Cincinnati the home to one of the most ambitious clubs in MLS. You can fault this franchise for not winning but you can’t fault them for not trying.
But will this level of investment continue with Albright?
Albright is the perfect hire if Cincinnati’s ownership is looking to pull back on the free-spending powers of the previous GM. Albright's track record of building trophy winning teams on a budget would be appealing to an ownership group that has been burned for two years now. And you have to wonder how long will Lindner and Whitman be willing to spend on a bad team? His appointment alone is not a sign of the team not looking to invest, but it's hard to to consider it a option going forward.
However, a word of optimism. In MLS there are cheap teams that don’t try to spend very much money at all, there are teams that focus exclusively on their academy to produce players to compete (and to sell), and there are free-spending teams who are happy to break the bank. What there hasn’t been in MLS is a team willing to spend big money on players and cultivate academy talent. FC Cincinnati has already signed two homegrown players in their first three years and a promising u-19 team in the academy. If Albright can somehow combine the budget-friendly academy build of Philly with the free-spending budget FCC gave Nijkamp, MLS could be looking at a new type of team, and one that would be positioned to dominate the league.