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FC Cincinnati to make MLS debut in 2019

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We’re unsure the cat was in the bag for long at all, but it’s out now: FC Cincinnati will join Major League Soccer and debut next Spring.

The team’s status as a “2019 expansion club” was announced  at the Rhinegeist Brewery on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

FCC currently plays in the USL, and the club will remain as FC Cincinnati and continue playing at Nippert Stadium until its new soccer-specific stadium is completed in 2021.

In a press release, owner Carl Lindner III called it a “triumph for the continued renaissance of this incredible city.”

Watch the full press conference here:

U.S. Open Cup fourth round draw: New York Derby, Minnesota-Cincinnati

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Major League Soccer enters the fray as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup reaches its fourth round.

There are four all-MLS matches in the bunch, including another round of the Hudson River Derby between NYCFC and the New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: Next USMNT-Mexico date set ]

Elsewhere, Portland hosts San Jose, Chicago visits Columbus, and Real Salt Lake entertains Sporting KC.

Open qualifier NTX Rayados earn a date at Houston Dynamo, while PDL side FC Golden State Force will visit the LA Galaxy.

NPSL side Miami United hosts Orlando City as an MLS side travels to visit a fourth-tier side.

The rest of the match-ups feature USL sides vs. MLS teams.

[ REPORT: FC Cincinnati to join MLS in 2019 ]

The winner of the U.S. Open Cup gets a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Full schedule (June 5-6)
New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC
Louisville City (USL) vs. New England Revolution
DC United vs. North Carolina FC (USL)
Philadelphia Union vs. Richmond Kickers (USL)
Miami United (NPSL) vs. Orlando City SC
Atlanta United vs. Charleston Battery (USL)
Minnesota United vs. FC Cincinnati (USL)
Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire
Nashville SC (USL) vs. Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston Dynamo vs. NTX Rayados (LQ)
San Antonio FC (USL) vs. FC Dallas
LA Galaxy vs. FC Golden State Force (PDL)
LAFC vs. Fresno FC (USL)
Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Sacramento Republic (USL) vs. Seattle Sounders

Report: MLS to finally grant FC Cincinnati an expansion place

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Major League Soccer is set to be special guests in Cincinnati next week, and it’s likely the league’s executives will be coming with a big offer.

According to a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, MLS commissioner Don Garber, along with Cincinnati mayor John Cranley and FC Cincinnati officials will hold an announcement at local craft brewery Rheingeist, likely bestowing an MLS expansion place to the USL club. The report states that FC Cincinnati would join MLS in 2019, which would likely mean FC Cincinnati would remain at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium for the short-term until their soccer-specific stadium is built.

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If true, it’s the end of a long and labored process that has been stuck in the mud the past few months since MLS announced Nashville was getting an MLS expansion franchise. At the time, FC Cincinnati was also expected to get one of the two available expansion slots, but the club didn’t have a concrete stadium plan at the time.

Back in December, when Nashville was awarded its franchise, FC Cincinnati was looking at three stadium sites, including one across the river in Northern Kentucky. FC Cincinnati eventually settled on a site on the west end of the city, with the club paying a big cost to fund community initiatives to win over Cincinnati city council.

Ultimately, the stadium deal was contingent on earning an MLS expansion slot, one that looks like it is coming to fruition.

It’s been an incredible four years in Cincinnati, from when the club was announced in August 2015. Although soccer at a lower level hadn’t found success in the city, FC Cincinnati took the city and USL by storm, regularly averaging more than 15,000 fans at Nippert Stadium (while the league attendance average was around half of that). The rise of FC Cincinnati coincided with the decline on the field of both the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals, leading FC Cincinnati to become a household team in the city.

The run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals in 2017 was another notch as the team looked to see whether it could earn an MLS expansion bid, knocking off both the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire along the way. While FC Cincinnati hasn’t come close to winning a league title, just the fact that the club’s been able to get so many people into the stadium is a win in it of itself.

Now, FC Cincinnati is entrenched in the city and with the billionaire backing of the Lindner family, they could be the next MLS expansion success story.

FC Cincinnati receives stadium approval if granted MLS bid

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The path to Major League Soccer looks to have gotten a whole lot clearer for FC Cincinnati on Monday.

[ MORE: Who has improved the most under Pep Guardiola at Man City? ]

The Cincinnati budget and finance committee voted to pass a stadium plan for the current USL side by a margin of four to three, in the event that FC Cincy is granted a place in MLS.

Meanwhile, the City Council voted five to four in favor of the plan.

The vote results in a $34.8 million infrastructure package that will go towards the development of a future stadium for FC Cincy, who is currently aiming to become the 26th franchise granted entry into the top flight of American soccer.

The stadium would be in Cincinnati’s West End, and would be a $200 million project, all of which is privately funded.

Last week, the club agreed to a land-swap deal with the Cincinnati Public Schools in order to secure the land necessary for their stadium project.

Cincinnati schools OK land swap with FC Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI (AP) Cincinnati Public Schools have agreed to a land swap with the city’s professional soccer team so the club can build a new $200 million stadium on the site where a high school stadium now sits.

[ MORE: Toronto makes CCL Final ]

The school board approved the swap Tuesday. As part of the deal, FC Cincinnati agreed to build Taft High School a new $10 million stadium near the school’s current stadium in the city’s west end.

The deal is contingent on the minor league team getting an invitation to join Major League Soccer.

The school board initially rejected the offer because the team was seeking to make reduced property tax payments on the new stadium. The team later agreed to pay about $25 million over the life of the stadium.