Everything is 20/20 in hindsight.
Like a highlight reel certain images are replayed in my head, some with different outcomes. The good ones remain, the bad ones replaced. Thoughts of missed opportunities linger and haunt my memory. I’m caught looking ahead to next season while still burdening myself with the final loss. Luckily, time waits for nothing and continues to move forward as we should.
While so many positive topics are discussed about our first season, since our last game most conversations reoccur and conclude similarly. We shout, "It was so great!”, continue "We wish it didn’t end so fast!" and conclude with, "What a great first year!” Sentiments that are surely genuine and always appreciated.
Although at what point do we move on? Burn the misfortune of the past season and rise from the ashes. Okay that was cheesy, but you get it. We have so much to look forward to. The light in our rear view is bright, but what’s ahead requires our full attention.
After seven seasons as a professional soccer player, I’ve uncovered one certainty. No season will ever be the same. Don’t worry - it’s a good thing. Throughout the transition from one season to the next the inevitability of change is challenging, but exciting in the same right.
The evolution of this club has been exceedingly successful. Like any new system, idea, or organization, a learning curve is required in order to mold a smooth functioning mechanism, and that’s the beauty. We’ve ebbed and flowed together to come to a stance with our feet firmly under us. Now we can stand tall.
However, like our experience, the pressure builds with time. The expectations we’ve enveloped with the success of our first season come with collateral. What is the saying? ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ That might be a far-fetched comparison, but let me explain.
We broke the attendance record this season four times, over-taking our own record three times. You, the fans, set the standard for soccer support in Cincinnati and widely across the nation. You’ve stepped into that role emphatically. You’ve marched into the record books and memory of every team that set foot on Nippert Stadium. I look forward to watching you embrace and expand.
Now, complimenting what you've built in the stands, the players must respond too. Simply, we need to win. We understand that our responsibility to become a consistently winning side is first and foremost. Second, and this is the easy one, we must remain gratefully in awe of you. Our responsibility continues to revolve around the awesomely loyal people in the stands. You are the reason the crest exists. You are the reason my heart races and my eyes widen when I step onto that field.
Finally, on a much larger scale, our collective power as a club now holds an expanded responsibility - to show the world we can build from the ground up and not only survive, but thrive. So, as you can see, this has become bigger than any one group or person. Collectively, we are responsible for the spotlight we have been given. To not only preserve it, but brighten it.
They say it’s lonely at the top. I hope there’s room for 35,000.