Fanendo Adi spoke clearly and didn’t mince words.
“I don’t think the media have to forget I requested a trade, I requested to leave,” Adi said
The remark was about he and FC Cincinnati hosting the Portland Timbers on Sunday night. For the club, the match is historic and marks the date when MLS officially arrives at Nippert Stadium.
But for Adi — and Alvas Powell — playing Portland means playing against their previous club on their new team’s big day.
Before Sunday, both Adi and Powell had never played a former club. Adi spent five seasons with Portland. Powell spent six.
But whereas FC Cincinnati acquired Powell last December via a trade, the move was subtler than Adi’s big switch to Cincinnati.
Adi became the Orange and Blue’s first Designated Player last July when was acquired from Portland. That’s when he suggested a move.
“The coach wanted me to stay, I was the one that said I wanted to leave” Adi said.
He arrived at a club awaiting its MLS beginning.
The Nigerian forward played the remainder of the 2018 season in the USL before headlining the 11 players who also joined the club in MLS.
Now, they’re here, and Sunday’s game is the big coming out party. It’s a match to celebrate for FCC; for Adi and Powell it’s a night to reunite with old friends and former teammates.
“We are at a higher level now,” Adi said of Cincinnati in the first tier. “The crowd is also going to be a different reaction playing against better players, better teams, so all that put into perspective. …It’s obviously going to be a game against a very good team, but right now I’m working for Cincinnati, so it’s a game where we want to show ourselves, impose ourselves on them and try to get our first three points.”
Both Cincinnati and Portland enter Sunday with one point from their first two matches. Both have a draw and a 4-1 loss. But what separates them most, is their recent history. FCC are still a few months removed from the USL. The Timbers are months away from losing the 2018 MLS Cup final to Atlanta United FC.
In 2015, Adi and Powell were on a Portland side that won
MLS Cup. Now, they’re at a new club still awaiting its first home game. That it arrives against their old team is a coincidence, Powell said.
“It’s going to be weird,” the Jamaican right back said. “It’s my old team, I’ve been here for a long time and I know pretty much everyone. It’ll be weird for a little bit. But I’m on a new team and I like my new team, so I’m always going to give my best and leave it all on the field.”
Playing at Nippert should be normal for Adi, though. After all, he’s already played with FC Cincinnati in their stadium. Powell is still awaiting his first game there. What Adi did highlight, however, was if the match was in Portland, it might carry more emotions toward his former club. Instead, Sunday is all about FC Cincinnati.
“It’ll be great,” Adi said. “I think a lot of emotion, but I’m playing in Cincinnati. I think if the game was going to be in Portland it would be a little bit different. But playing it here in front of our fans is going to be extra motivation for us to win the game. We’re just going to enjoy the game.”