In a city where postseason wins are unfortunately few and far between, Saturday afternoon was a moment to highlight FC Cincinnati postseason success and the players who achieved it.
On Saturday afternoon, club re-aired the win in penalties over Nashville SC from the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs, while former players joined the Buffalo Wing & Rings Second Screen Experience with FCC play-by-play voice Tommy Gelehrter and broadcast analyst Kevin McCloskey.
Forrest Lasso, Emmanuel Ledesma and Richie Ryan were the guests on the show, which can be watched here. These were some of the best talking points:
Lasso on playing for both teams in the rivalry
“It’s funny because they hated Nashville, and then I went to Nashville on loan and they hated Cincinnati,” the center back said. “I had to be both sides of that. Buy my job was to wear the jersey I had on at the time, so it was kind of cool and a unique experience. I got to see a lot of emotion and pleasure on both sides.”
Both clubs are in MLS now, of course, and Lasso thinks there will be a big rivalry between the sides once the clubs face one another in the league for years to come.
“It’s going to be massive,” he said. “I think with bringing soccer, such a massive sport, to the region, it gives someone something to hold on to.”
Nashville is currently the second-closest MLS city to Cincinnati after Columbus.
Ryan: “The balance within the squad was perfect.”
This comment highlighted how strong FC Cincinnati’s 2018 roster truly was. Not only did the Orange and Blue have that 23-game unbeaten run, but they had consistent talent across positions that made it difficult just to make a matchday squad, let alone the starting lineup.
“You had younger players who were able to learn from the older players,” Ryan said. “Forrest for example, as well as Paddy (Barrett), they were learning from Dekel (Keinan), who has experience at the highest level. He’s played for his national team numerous times.
“Going back to the run we went on, winning just breeds confidence,” Ryan continued. “You go on an unbeaten run for five or six games, then you look around the changing room. And you just think, ‘We’re not going to lose today.’”
Manu on his passionate relationship with Danni König
The friendship started off on rocky footing.
“We don’t know each other and then he thinks I come to Cincinnati to take his place,” Ledesma said about König.
Ledesma said it took time to get to know his teammates and their playing style – the first few weeks of the season – but once the team started gelling, there was no stopping the Orange and Blue.
“I give him a deal,” the Argentinean recalled. “I say, ‘I’d like to do the dirty job running everywhere, trying to fight him, do everything, but for sure, I’m going to give you an assist, just one pass. Just make sure you score the goal.’ He said, ‘Deal.’”
König went on to score 11 goals that season and is tied with Ledesma for the most goals in club history. As for Manu, he set the USL’s single-season assists record with 16.
Their chemistry on the pitch was one of the best partnerships that year, even when König’s minutes were limited once Fanendo Adi arrived in late July.
König eventually left Cincinnati late during the season, citing personal reasons. Before going, though, he said goodbye to all of his teammates near the locker room, except for Ledesma.
Instead, the duo walked toward the other side of the field, hugged each other and cried. They still keep in touch, but neither of them is currently playing professional soccer.
“I miss every second of that year,” Ledesma said.