Last Sunday, on a cold and blistery December morning, nearly eighty players gathered at the University of Cincinnati's Sheakley Athletic Center for the club’s official 2016 open tryout..
A diverse group of participants came to test their luck at impressing FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes and his staff. Eighteen different nationalities were represented in total -- Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Jordan, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, the UK and the US to be specific -- and they traveled in to Cincinnati from all over the city, state, region and country.
"My staff and I were extremely excited to see the response in numbers and quality of the players on display in this year's FCC Open Tryout," offered Coach Harkes. He continued, "As a club, we are always striving to be the best. This dedication entails a genuinely inclusive approach with our roster development, including working to be aware of players in our community and beyond."
After registration was completed, things got going on Sunday when the group itself was split in two, with each subgroup participating in a morning and afternoon session.
The morning sessions featured technical and fitness evaluations before giving way to small sided play, while the afternoon sessions each featured a full 90 minute match for players to show their abilities in a realistic game environment.
As for what the coaching staff thought of talent on hand, Harkes had high praise for those who braved the cold temperatures inside the bubble.
"Players with passion, technique, tactical acumen and dynamic physical ability were on display, giving the coaching staff much to think about."
Club President and General Manager, Jeff Berding, was also on hand for the day. After joining Coach Harkes and his staff to evaluate the players on hand, Berding shared his thoughts.
"This tryout in 2015 was the first ever soccer event our club put on, and it was a really big deal for us at the time and we were proud that two participants made the final roster. While it's incredible to see how far FC Cincinnati has come in the year since, these tryouts remain just as important to our plans for the club ahead of our second season. The fact that so many talented players want to be a part of what we're doing here is a testament to their dedication to the game, and we thank them for giving their all here today."
Harkes shared similar sentiments, "I personally want to thank our staff, and the players/families that made the incredible journey, both near and far, to share in our vision. It is always a dream come true when you sign a professional contract, and a very special moment for players and families. We wish all of the players the best of luck here or beyond."
Whether any of last Sunday's participants will have that moment remains to be seen. But we should all stay tuned over the weeks and months to come to see if they get their shot for the Orange & Blue.