FC Cincinnati are one of the major success stories in American soccer in the last decade. Scratch that. Probably in the top five, ever.
Their home opener as a Major League Soccer franchise on Sunday proved that fact beyond doubt.
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Ever since they burst onto the scene in their debut season in 2016, FC Cincy have stunned everyone along the way at every major milestone point. Their incredible levels of support in the USL saw them average over 17,000 fans for three-straight seasons (their last USL season saw an average of 25,717 to set a new league record), and they had huge crowds of over 30,000 for U.S. Open Cup games and a big friendly against Premier League side Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016.
This is something that has been created from the bottom up, and a team which feels genuine. Three years ago nobody would have said Cincinnati, Ohio was a hotbed for soccer. Now, it is one the hotbeds.
So, we expected something big for their home opener against Portland Timbers and Cincinnati delivered on and off the pitch.
Their first-ever MLS win celebrated wildly by a crowd of 32,250 fans, and the strong bond the club has created between themselves and the various supporters groups is wonderful to see. It is reminiscent of what MLS have at home games for the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, LAFC and Atlanta United to name a few of the recently successful expansion franchises.
Of course, Cincinnati still have a way to go to match the likes of Portland, Seattle and Atlanta in terms of success on and off the pitch, but they have made an exceptional start.
Before, during and after their 3-0 victory over the Timbers, the FC Cincinnati fans delivered a cauldron of noise inside Nippert Stadium which really makes you wonder why they would need to move to a soccer-specific stadium nearby.
There’s no doubt the new stadium they are building in the West End of Cincy will be awesome, but the spiritual home of this club is at the football stadium of the University of Cincinnati and is a huge part of their story.
Whatever happens in the years to come, FC Cincinnati will always look back on March 17, 2019 as a wonderful celebration in their history. It was the day that Cincinnati arrived as a soccer destination in MLS and it is clear it will become a key city in the rise of the sport in the U.S. in years to come.
Below are a few videos which set the scene throughout a memorable day for everyone connected with FC Cincinnati.