down the hatch

Welcome to “Down The Hatch,” a weekly mailbag about FC Cincinnati and their time in MLS. This is Charlie Hatch, the club’s Digital Host and Writer.

Questions can be submitted here or on Twitter by tweeting to @charliehatch_.

Here’s our third addition. Thank you for the questions and feel free to send more!

(Note: I know most of the conversation around FC Cincinnati supporters this week has focused on the new streaming deal. As a result, I’ll answer those questions first.)
Nathan: Why do you think DC United fans got such a huge price break for @FloFC and FC Cincinnati fans none? Why hasn’t the team addressed this with the amount of backlash over the past 72 hours?

First, I can’t comment on D.C. United’s deal with FloSports because I haven’t seen it and don’t know the full details. I also don’t know all the details surrounding FC Cincinnati’s deal. What I can tell you is this: FCC got the best service available to accommodate the greatest amount of their fans in the designated broadcast region.

Wednesday night, the club released a full description about the deal with FloSports. Here’s a video of Berding’s comments. Here are takeaways from that speech.

Phillip: My parents live in Dayton and I brought them to two games last year including the season finale. They loved attending but now they can’t watch games on tv without paying an outrageous fee for subpar service and quality on flo sports. They love soccer but aren’t going to pay when they already have cable. Why did the club agree to flo and restrict areas like dayton when that is where more potential fans are like my parents?

First, the thought-process on subpar service from Flo seems to be based on an outlier from D.C. United last week, in its first-ever broadcast for that club. That FC Cincinnati announced this contract the same minute D.C issued a statement is simply horrific timing. There are some important take-aways that the first weekend provided and, according to conversations and discussions I’ve heard, means we can get a step of ahead of those potential issues on our end before our first Flo stream on March 24.

As for FCC’s stream, I’m told that — as has been the case since the club’s launch — the club will produce the telecast, which allows for absolute control of what goes out from the stadium. There’s also more cameras and emphasis put into a matchday broadcast than every before. You’ll see that.

Based on Berding’s remarks Wednesday night, the club did its best to expand the opportunities to watch matches. The agreement with Flo provides a chance to watch the matches through a stream. Without a stream, that wasn’t possible to anyone outside of the immediate Cincinnati area who had access to Star64.

Tom: How does the club plan to address fan concerns about FloFC costs and poor connectivity during match streams?

The club issued a statement from President and General Manager Jeff Berding on Wednesday night. I linked to the video above.

Jesse: Does the supporters council actually exist? If no why? If yes, why wasn’t the streaming topic discussed?

I asked Jeff Berding about this and he said this would be something that would have been something brought up with the larger Fan Council. He told me, however, that we’re in a weird spot between the ending of the 2018 group and the launch of the 2019 group. In lieu of that, we also did not have a meeting with our Supporters Council or with leadership of the groups in the time between this deal coming together and its announcement. So there just was not an opportunity to bring it to the fans as the club does with most of its initiatives.

@Bobethy: What’s the status of Manu? Doghouse? Knock? Just lower on Koch’s depth chart?

Currently, it seems as if Emmanuel Ledesma is lower on the depth chart. There’s generally a talent gap between MLS and the USL, but I don’t think that’s a gap for the reigning USL MVP.

That said, Manu has played a much more attack-minded game in his time in FCC and has been caught defensively a few times. In the USL — with the team we had last year — he thrived against weaker defenses and we had such a strong team, that didn’t necessarily need him to contribute as much defensively some games, especially the way he was contributing at the offensive end of the field. In MLS, however, defenses are better and two-way players are the norm, especially in the midfield.  

If you look at the lineups the past two weeks, Eric Alexander and Allan Cruz both played outside of their normal central midfield role, but their games are more balanced — or even more defensive-minded — than Manu’s. That could explain them playing over him in Seattle and Atlanta. Of course, now he’s also competing against Kenny Saief, a U.S. international, too.

Lora: Kenny Saief’s loan is only 4 months. Is there an option for him to stay longer?

Yes, and yes. Saief’s loan is through the summer window, but there’s a purchase option on the loan agreement.  

Mike: When can FCC supporters get their hands on the full range of FCC Adidas clothing and accessories/gear the team wears and uses (other than home and away kits)?

I’m not sure if it’ll ever be full range — it’s understandable if some things are player-only. That said, there’s a big selection of Adidas gear online or in our downtown store. I know black crew neck with the “Gary” logo is available in the store. Players wear that on travel days.

Chris: What does the team typically eat before matches? Do they eat as a team or individually?

The team usually eats collectively for meals, and always for pregame meal. I asked some fellow communications staff who travel what is offered and was told there’s usually a large salad bar, fish (typically cod or salmon), chicken and/or beef, pasta with pesto or marinara, brown rice, several different roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocado, fruit and protein shakes, plus some bread options. There’s also coffee and tea, as well as juices and water.

Noah: How many tickets are counted as a sell out?

In 2019, it’s 32,250 for FC Cincinnati games.

It’s changed a few times the last few years based on stadium configurations. We all remember the epic attendance for the Crystal Palace friendly in 2016, which was 35,061. Nippert was remodeled after that season and soccer capacity was cut down to 33,250 — which we announced for the 2017 U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss to the New York Red Bulls. Last year’s largest crowd was 31,478 against Indy Eleven in the final regular-season USL game in club history.

This year, with re-adjusting the seating layout for MLS and cutting the general admission seating, the capacity is now down to 32,250. We’ll see if Sunday’s game reaches that mark — sounds like we’re very, very close.

Kevin: What is your personal favorite chant from the bailey?

Honestly, I never thought about this until now. When I covered FCC for The Cincinnati Enquirer, I never thought about the chants beyond knowing their lyrics. Obviously, that’s different now.

I’ll say “FCC The Orange And Blue.” In terms of significance, it’s synonymous with the Supporter’s March. I also loved the banner in front of The Bailey at the end of last season.

Buuuuut I do need to mention “The Nati” because my dad loves “Cielito Lindo” and the Mexico National Team. (It’s a long story…)