Avionne Flanagan’s introduction to FC Cincinnati and its rabid fanbase was unforgettable.
During his sophomore year at the University of South Florida in 2018, the Bulls were in town to face the Cincinnati Bearcats. That same weekend was FCC’s clash with Nashville SC in the USL Cup Playoffs.
“I was drawn to the city of Cincy in just the brief moment I was there,” Flanagan recalled. “FC Cincinnati had a big home game in (Nippert Stadium) there the same exact weekend, so I was able to see the atmosphere in Cincinnati and the fanbase. I even had a couple fans heckle my college team because we were from Florida.
“I really enjoyed that small moment and I’m really looking forward to joining the new expansion franchise and see if we can improve.”
If Flanagan’s first impression was the passion from FCC supporters from outside Nippert, now he’s working to earn an opportunity to represent the club inside West End Stadium.
The 21-year-old defender was the 29th pick in January’s MLS SuperDraft – Cincinnati’s second of four players selected that day. But unlike the other players chosen by the Orange and Blue, Flanagan is the only drafted player who enters camp on a trial basis hoping to sign his first professional contact.
Calvin Harris, whom the club took with the second overall pick, signed a generation Adidas contract with MLS and is already on the squad. As for Flanagan, he reported to the Mercy Health Training Center this week as a trialist throughout preseason before the club makes a decision on his future.
A player who’s primarily a left back, he can also be utilized as a left winger – a role similar to Joseph-Claude Gyau’s during the 2020 MLS season.
“As a player coming out of the University of South Florida, our coaching staff made it a priority to make sure we could play in numerous positions,” Flanagan said. “I love getting forward. I’m an attack-minded back who loves to use the width to my advantage and bring a little different dynamic to the game. I flourish in 1-v-1 opportunities and I’m not going to shy away from individual battles.”
The left back finished his collegiate career last month for USF and made 51 total appearances for the Bulls during his four-year career. He also scored four goals and provided eight assists. After getting drafted by Cincinnati, he continued playing and training with USF this winter before reporting to MHTC.
Flanagan might have the most clearly-defined role of any SuperDraft player entering a preseason camp for Cincinnati. While he still needs to earn a contract to join the Orange and Blue, he’ll have numerous opportunities to impress the FCC coaching staff while the club trains and plays friendlies at the team’s Mercy Health Training Center and in Orlando, Fla., the team announced Wednesday.
As of now, Flanagan is currently the backup left back behind newly-acquired Ronald Matarrita, a Costa Rica international who played for New York City FC from 2016-20. While Matarrita is the assumed starter, Flanagan can earn his way onto the roster and can be mentored by one of the top fullbacks in the Eastern Conference.
“Coming out of college, I was able to make a name for myself in my conference and the NCAA,” he said. “It’s very important for me to take this opportunity to soak it all in, but still be aggressive and be a player that comes in every day willing to work, put my head down and make an impression.”
Join the Orange and Blue when they move into their new home. FC Cincinnati 2021 Season Tickets start at $20 per game and are available for purchase. Being a Season Ticket Member gives you the best opportunity to secure your place in history for our inaugural season at West End Stadium. Click here for more information or to register your interest in 2021 season tickets.