Nijkamp pleased with FCC’s 2021 MLS SuperDraft class


In his first media availability since last week’s 2021 MLS SuperDraft, FC Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp said he was pleased with the club’s latest draft class and hopes the four prospects can work their way into the team’s future.

“The four players we wanted, we got,” Nijkamp said. “That’s always a good thing, especially (given the unpredictability of a draft).”

Those four players included the top player on FCC’s draft board – Calvin Harris – who the club selected second overall. Harris is a Generation adidas signing who spent two seasons at Wake Forest playing as a dynamic forward.

“We added a promising attacker in Calvin Harris,” Nijkamp said. “He’s only 20 years old and a (Generation adidas) player, so his salary is not affecting our cap. That means he gets time to learn, improve and develop and be an important player for our future. (This also) creates more flexibility for us by freeing up the salary budget for other players.”

Generation adidas players, like Harris and former No. 1 pick Frankie Amaya, are excluded from the team’s salary cap, allowing FCC to allocate more money toward signing players before the MLS transfer window closes in May.

With the 29th pick, the club also drafted Avionne Flanagan from the University of South Florida. Flanagan, who played multiple positions in college, will enter preseason as the backup left back behind Costa Rica international Ronald Matarrita.

Both Harris and Flanagan will report to the Mercy Health Training Center on Feb. 22 and will participate in the club’s preseason plans. From there, Nijkamp and head coach Jaap Stam will decide if the players will remain on the senior squad.

Cincinnati’s two additional selections were midfielder Jonas Fjeldberg (University of Dayton) and Matthew Vowinkel (Hofstra) with the No. 54 and No. 56 picks, respectively. They will return to college and play their senior seasons – their first competitive matches since 2019.

“We will monitor them and see if they will get a trial later this year in our club when we start our second team,” Nijkamp said.

FC Cincinnati do not have a second team currently, but the GM’s comments suggested there could be an announcement later this year.

SuperDraft picks react to joining FCC

“It’s just a real big feeling of excitement and I’m just grateful for the opportunity that FC Cincinnati have given me,” Harris said after being selected. “The conversations I’ve had with (Director of Scouting and Player Recruitment Hunter Freeman) and the staff have been really good. Now, I’m just excited to look forward to the future and working hard.”

Flanagan’s SuperDraft day began when he was on the USF practice field with his college teammates. Hours later, he was watching the draft board with roommates when his name popped up. He said a smile hasn’t left his face since.

“For me, these last couple of weeks are just making sure I can be the best player I know I’m capable of being going into the report date and the start of preseason,” the defender said. “I want to come in and make sure I show the coaching staff and all of my teammates all my strengths, and constantly work on any weaknesses.”

Vowinkel, who FCC selected with their final pick, said a lifelong dream came true when he was drafted.

“There’s nothing I could’ve asked for more than just being drafted and at least being a part of MLS,” he added.

With his senior season beginning later this Spring, Vowinkel said he can use the college games to his benefit before linking up with the MLS side.

“It’s definitely a plus,” the striker said. “I get to come to Cincinnati fully ready to go. Being able to play the college games, it allows (the FCC technical staff) to see me a little more before I get there. It would be to my benefit. When they see that they’ll see how to get me going and implement me into the team.”