As FC Cincinnati prepares for its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, the club took another step closer to 2019 with their five selections in the Expansion Draft.
Prior to Tuesday afternoon’s selections, head coach Alan Koch and his technical team have been busy building their foundation ever since MLS Commissioner Don Garber awarded them an MLS expansion club.
The build for MLS began on the final day of last summer’s transfer window, when FC Cincinnati added Fanendo Adi as its first Designated Player from the Portland Timbers. The newcomers weren’t done as they landed 24-year-old Fatai Alashe from San Jose.
Union fans have been watching Cincy’s roster build with interest since Philly will be welcoming the newcomers to the Eastern Conference next season. While some newer clubs have aimed to spend heavily as they enter the league, others have sought to build off personnel that helped them succeed in the lower divisions of American soccer.
FC Cincinnati carries over 11 players from their 2018 USL squad, following in the footsteps like Minnesota United in 2017 which had eight players in their inaugural season from carry over from the NASL. Now they add into the mix six puzzle pieces from today’s Expansion Draft in Darren Mattocks, Roland Lamah, Eric Alexander, Hassan Ndam, an additional international spot courtesy of a trade with the Colorado Rapids for Kei Kamara and Greg Garza via a trade with Atlanta.
The Union protected eleven players, but key pieces from the 2018 roster had to be exposed for the draft. Cincy passed over Haris Medunjanin and Warren Creavalle, however, and that means the Union retain the rights to those players going forward. Creavalle is out of contract but Medunjanin is signed through the end of the 2019 season. Players out of contract, such as Creavalle, can still be retained by the Union prior to the Re-Entry Draft later this month.
Now let’s take a brief look at how the expansion draft unfolded to get a better idea of what type of opponent FC Cincinnati is shaping up to be in 2019.
The first pick of the expansion draft, Mattocks is another weapon and brings experience to FC Cincinnati in the form of 34 goals and 11 assists in 161 appearances between Vancouver, Portland and D.C. United. The 28-year-old is coming off a career-high 10 goals in 25 appearances with D.C. United, scoring on over half of his shots on goal.
FC Cincinnati ramped up the intrigue of the draft with their selection of Vancouver’s Kei Kamara. The No. 9 selection from the 2006 MLS SuperDraft won’t be appearing in the Queen City as the club announced that they will trade the forward to the Colorado Rapids for an international slot.
The final three selections are expected to wear the blue and orange with midfielders Eric Alexander from Houston, Roland Lamah from Dallas and defender Hassan Ndam of New York Red Bulls rounding out the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft.
While FC Cincinnati had traded one of its selections, they still walked away from New York City with five players as they announced the acquisition of Atlanta United defender Andrew Garza for $200,000 in GAM and $250,000 in TAM.
2018 FC Cincinnati Roster
GK: Spencer Richey,
D: Greg Garza*, Justin Hoyte, Forrest Lasso, Hassan Ndam, Blake Smith,
M: Fatai Alashe, Nazmi Albadawi, Eric Alexander, Corben Bone, Roland Lamah, Emmanuel Ledesma, Jimmy McLaughlin,
F: Fanendo Adi, Kei Kamara(traded to Colorado for an international spot), Darren Mattocks, Emery Welshman
Selected in 2018 MLS Expansion Draft
*acquired via trade