Friday was another landmark day for FC Cincinnati.
Fresh off of announcing the the club’s inaugural season schedule in the midweek, FC Cincinnati officially introduced its second class of signings to the city and media at club offices in downtown Cincinnati.
Along with Club president Jeff Berding and majority owner Carl Lindner III, head coach John Harkes personally welcomed and presented five of the six players first introduced via a media release on January 21st. And one by one, Harrison Delbridge, Antoine Hoppenot, Omar Mohamed, Andrew Wiedeman and Omar Cummings were given the chance to beam for the cameras while holding their very own blue and orange shirt.
Watch the announcement below.
Those five — plus the not yet arrived Alvaro Anton Ripoll and Jimmy McLaughlin — will join up with the other ten players from the first class announced in December for the team’s first mandatory preseason practices next Thursday.
This newest group of signings bring a wide variety experience to the Blue and Orange.
That experience starts with the greenest of rookies in midfielder Omar Mohamed. Coach Harkes explained how the youngster from Columbus was spotted while Assistant Coach Ryan Martin was working with Columbus Crew under 23’s last summer. Just 19 years old, Mohamed is signing his first professional contract with FC Cincinnati.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Harkes also welcomed the leadership qualities of veteran professional Omar Cummings. The 33 year old forward brings a wealth of experience to the new club that includes 35 appearances with Jamaican national team and 185 games and 42 goals in Major League soccer. But perhaps even more interesting, Cummings also brings experience in the Queen City — he played collegiately for both Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati.
Harkes wasn’t the only person in the room excited to see Cummings. Among the guests at the player presentation was UC men’s soccer head coach Hylton Dayes, and he spoke glowingly of the player that helped him lead the Bearcats to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. “Omar is a special person, and a special player. He’s not only the best player to put on University of Men’s Soccer uniform, but he’s also an even better person.”
Coach Harkes agreed. “Having Omar at this point in the season is critical for us. Not only does he bring a lot of experience to the game, but [also] on and off the field. To the community… for him, this is a big homecoming.”
Omar took it a step further, calling the city his “second home”.
But the day was about much more than just the two Omars. When speaking about all the players the team have assembled so far, FCC president and general manager Jeff Berding was buzzing too.
“I want to recognize John Harkes and Assistant Coach Ryan Martin, who have done an outstanding job of building this roster. We started this in August with an idea in mind. But obviously you have to build and make it a reality. But seeing this actually come to be has been really fun and exciting.”
The player announcement itself comes in the middle a really exciting stretch for FC Cincinnati, coming on the heels of an intense four-day player combine at Wall 2 Wall in Mason. A select group of players were brought in for the coaching staff to evaluate as the team looks to fill out the remaining roster spots.
Too, the club released its inaugural 2016 season schedule in the United Soccer League (USL) on Tuesday. That announcement also came a week after the club announced its first ever home game — on April 9th against Charlotte Independence — and that it would be hosting the USL X youth player combine the following weekend when regional rival Louisville City will be coming to town. And of course, mandatory practice begins this coming week ahead of the team’s preseason trip and tournament in Florida in mid February.
And in adding the five guys introduced on Friday to the great talent already signed, the club feel like they’re well prepared for the grueling weeks ahead.