CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati center back Forrest Lasso was voted the United Soccer League’s Defender of the Year for the 2018 season, the league announced this morning.
A USL All-League First-Team honoree for the second consecutive season in 2018, Lasso was a key figure in an FC Cincinnati defense that helped the Orange and Blue claim this year’s USL Regular Season Championship.
Lasso received 48 percent of the vote to receive the award, with Louisville City FC center back Paco Craig finishing second on 39 percent and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC center back Joe Greenspan finishing third on 13 percent. The 2018 USL Awards were voted on by team management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2018 USL regular season.
Lasso made a smooth transition to FC Cincinnati’s squad this offseason as he finished third on the team in minutes played and finished first in the league overall with 223 clearances, first among defenders in aerials won with 172 and second in blocked shots with 32.
“It’s a special accolade for me personally,” Lasso said. “I think if you look at our backline, our defensive unit, our keepers, our holding mids, it took all of us. You ask anybody who plays the game, defending starts at the top, so even our 9s, 7s, 11s, they all did the job. But for me individually, it’s a special moment.
“It’s something when I first entered the league back in 2015, I saw the guys that won Defender of the Year and thought I can do that. So, it’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind. But, when it came to gameday, it was the last thing I was thinking about. I was trying to think about our team success and making sure the guys to the left and right were on the same page, which at the end of the day made my job a little bit better.”
The 6-foot-5 center back also posted standout numbers elsewhere, winning 74.3 percent of duels over the regular season (214-of-288) and 82.7 percent of aerial duels (172-of-208) while recording 47 interceptions, 17 tackles and 88 possession recoveries.
“Forrest had achieved a high level of success in the league when we brought him to Cincinnati, and we’re so pleased to see how he raised his game to become one of our club’s foundations this season,” FCC President Jeff Berding said. “Game after game, he made highlight-reel defensive moves and shut down an opposing team. No matter who he played alongside, we counted on Forrest to be a big presence and he delivered. Adding in his dedication on the training pitch, as well as his commitments in the Cincinnati community, we are so proud Forrest has been recognized as the league’s top defender this season.”
Lasso was one of FC Cincinnati’s three USL award finalists. Alan Koch was among the three finalists for Coach of the Year, which will be announced on Tuesday, while Emmanuel Ledesma was one of four finalist for USL Most Valuable Player, which will be announced Wednesday.
The next time Cincinnati takes the field, it will be as MLS’ 24th team in 2019 when the club debuts in the top professional league in the U.S. and Canada. Season tickets for the 2019 season are now on sale at fccincinnati.com/tickets. The club will unveil its MLS later today at a ticketed event at the Woodward Theater in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati. For more information about FC Cincinnati tickets - including 2019 season tickets - call 513-977-KICK (5425) or visit fccincinnati.com/tickets.