FC Cincinnati’s preseason ended Saturday night when the club lost 3-0 to Columbus Crew SC in the Carolina Challenge Cup. On Sunday, the club returned to Cincinnati.
With the 2019 MLS season opener Saturday night at Seattle Sounders FC, the regular season training schedule and preparations have arrived. That doesn’t mean there isn’t time to reflect on the preseason, however.
Here are three players who impressed this preseason:
“The best way for a player to train is in the same position every single day because that makes you comfortable going out and doing one job,” FCC Head Coach Alan Koch said. “The reality for Justin and several players like Justin is they have the flexibility that we can use them in different positions, so that’s why we played them in different positions and training in different positions.”
In 2018, Hoyte played right back for FC Cincinnati almost exclusively. In 2017, he started the season at left back and eventually assisted in the team’s back three.
Throughout the seven-game preseason, Hoyte fluctuated once more. His first and last appearance came at left back, but he was the center defender in the back three on multiple occasions and also played right wing back against Indy Eleven.
With left back Greg Garza injured all preseason, Hoyte’s versatility helped out when rotating with Blake Smith. Hoyte also helped Hassan Ndam and Forrest Lasso get comfortable playing with the new group.
Hoyte’s ability to play multiple positions productively across the backline is a good asset for FC Cincinnati entering its first season in MLS.
Similar to Hoyte, Ulloa showed his versatility within Cincinnati’s midfield this preseason. A vocal presence who keeps order between the team, the center mid seamlessly played alongside different midfielders and in different roles.
The Orange and Blue acquired him from FC Dallas this offseason, meaning Ulloa left the only professional club he’s played for. That he’s come into Cincinnati and played well with new teammates and tactics is an encouraging sign entering the regular season. He also played 45 minutes wearing the captain armband, which highlights his leadership ability.
“I like learning new things all the time,” Ulloa said. “I think it’s good for me to have that in my arsenal and good for the team. Whoever I play with or whoever steps in that position has to be ready to adapt and build those preseason relationships all together away from home and get to know each other so on the field it can show.”
In five preseason appearances, the Jamaican forward scored three goals, including on his debut in a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact. Preseason or not, that’s a strong output for any player and even better for someone joining a new team — like Mattocks.
FC Cincinnati selected him with the first pick in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft from D.C. United after he scored 10 goals in 25 appearances.
During preseason, Mattocks used his pace and ability to take on defenders in the open field. In front of goal, he capitalized on his opportunities and showed he can be a reliable addition to the Orange and Blue in MLS.