It is the holiday season, and FC Cincinnati find themselves in a position they’ve been in before, but not at this point in the calendar.
For the second season in a row, The Orange and Blue are fighting for a spot in the MLS Cup Eastern Conference Finals against Philadelphia Union. Last year though, the matchup took place over a month earlier on October 20, thus ending the year well ahead of the holiday season.
Now, with a new MLS calendar, the season rages on into the later parts of the year and intersects directly with the winter traditions. Namely, Thanksgiving.
Many celebrate the November holiday in different ways, and there isn’t exactly one way to celebrate. Some gather as a family for feasts of turkey, mashed potatoes and other staples (like FC Cincinnati will do as a team this week), while others prefer solitude and quiet reflection.
Either way, a universally accepted tradition is using the time to reflect on the year that has passed and find things to be thankful for. Fortunately for FC Cincinnati and their most faithful fans, there is plenty to be thankful for both right now, in the recent past, and the future to come.
“I'm thankful for what we have here at FCC,” head coach Pat Noonan said Wednesday. “We are in front of incredible support from our fan base, from the community, and I think the players and the staff members feel the same way.
“It feels like we have something special here and the hope is that we can continue it and find ways to enjoy more success moving forward because this has certainly been a nice year for our club. We're looking to end it in a strong way and hopefully everybody has a good Thanksgiving.”
FC Cincinnati will train Thursday as their quest for the MLS Cup continues. With the Supporters’ Shield already secured, being thankful for the trophy is firmly on the fans this time of year. In order to best focus on the task at hand, The Orange and Blue have to move those awards to the back of their mind, but the success mentioned by Noonan is worth noting. In addition to the shield, FC Cincinnati have won MLS Coach of the Year (Noonan) and MLS Defender of the Year (Matt Miazga).
For the first time in a long time, the core of FC Cincinnati is locked in and committed to the Queen City. Contract extensions for Pat Noonan and Chris Albright mean the braintrust in the coaches box, executive suite and midfield are all in place.
The things FC Cincinnati and their supporters have to be thankful for are not limited to the soccer pitch, though. FCC have been active members of the community, doing work to enrich themselves and the community. Ray Gaddis, the 2022 Proctor and Gamble Humanitarian of the Year, recently organized his second annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive to give out over 100 meals to families in the Cincinnati community. Alec Kann, the 2023 Proctor and Gamble Humanitarian of the Year, has excelled in his work with the Boys & Girls Club in making weekly visits to centers around Cincinnati. Dominique Badji has run camps for youngsters at Milford’s Mercy Health Training Center. The historic Thanksgiving Day Race will end at TQL Stadium. The list goes on, FCC, both as an organization and team, have ingrained themselves in the community.
This holiday season, things are happy and bright. So feast well Thursday, but come hungry on Saturday. There’s more to celebrate this year, and we can’t celebrate it all until we're done.