Hagglund leads strong backline to first MLS playoff berth


Following the conclusion of the 2022 MLS Season, FC Cincinnati technical staff voted on and awarded FC Cincinnati players with several end-of-season awards. This week, FCCincinnati.com will reveal the winners of this year’s team awards. Cincinnati’s own Nick Hagglund was awarded the team’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Nick Hagglund returned to FC Cincinnati on a new deal in 2022, one that kept him securely in the Queen City beyond one season for the first time since he returned to his hometown in 2019. The defensive stalwart and now club ambassador was prepared to accept a new role this season, one that maybe saw less playing time and more of an influence on the team’s culture.

Instead, he became a fixture in a defense which was massively improved and helped propel the club to their most successful MLS season, finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference and winning their inaugural Audi MLS Cup Playoff match.

“I’m proud of this season,” said Hagglund. “I’m proud with how we started and where we finished. In terms of all the effort, all the things that had to come together, no one expected this group to be where we are at.”

Hagglund featured in a much more prominent role this year making 31 starts for the Orange and Blue. Hagglund logged 2,719 minutes in 32 league appearances, both significant career highs. He featured in all six shutout performances this season, and he was the only player to start all 13 league wins for FCC this season.

“It was exciting to give the fans a rewarding season and an experience where you see them smiling,” said Hagglund. “It’s great that we were able to put something out there that the city was really proud of, and to see people putting up flags and wearing orange and blue, it was really special."

The Cincinnati native even contributed on the offensive end, scoring his third career goal for FC Cincinnati against Charlotte FC on Sept. 3 and adding two assists, one of which came on Decision Day Sunday against D.C. United.

Hagglund, who was part of FC Cincinnati’s inaugural MLS roster, attributes this year's success to the transformation inside the locker room. “We brought in good guys,” said Hagglund. “Dom Badji, Ray Gaddis, Alvas Powell, those are all guys that have seen the league and know the league.

“There are good guys in the locker room. When things might not be going their way, or they may not be getting starts, they are all still in support of the team. They’re going to give their best effort in training and give their most to the team. Having guys in the locker room to keep the group together through the ups and downs, that’s a character thing.”

Hagglund ended the year leading the team in clearances (136), headed clearances (71) and interceptions (43).