CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma was voted the United Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2018 season, the league announced this afternoon.
Ledesma received 39 percent of the vote to receive the award, with Louisville City FC forward Cameron Lancaster finishing second on 33 percent and Orange County SC’s duo of midfielder Aodhan Quinn and forward Thomas Enevoldsen finishing tied for third with eight percent each. Eight different players in total received votes for the award. The 2018 USL Awards were voted on by team management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2018 USL regular season.
This is FC Cincinnati’s second USL MVP in its three-year league history. Sean Okoli claimed the honor in FCC’s inaugural USL campaign in 2016.
The Argentinian set a new USL single-season record for assists in a season with 16, besting the previous mark of 12 set by Chris Wehan (Reno 1868 FC, 2017) and Matthew Dallman (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, 2013). In addition to his assist total, Ledesma also recorded 16 goals, making him the first player in the league’s modern era to record at least 15 goals and 15 assists in a single season. Ledesma’s total of 32 combined goals and assists surpassed the previous mark of 29 held by two previous USL MVPs in Orlando City SC’s Kevin Molino (2014) and Louisville City FC’s Matt Fondy (2015).
“I would not be in this position without my teammates, and this award is really about them, too,” Ledesma said. “They were excellent all season and the reason we were so successful on the field. I’m so, so happy that this recognizes the hard work everyone did this year. I want to say thank you very much to every single person who works at the club and obviously the fans, too, who have made FC Cincinnati such a special place to play.”’
Ledesma was a two-time USL Player of the Month (June, September) and was a seven-time member of the USL Team of the Week, including a Player of the Week nod in Week 10. Additionally, he was the USL’s fan-voted Midseason MVP. He routinely produced highlights for the Orange and Blue, tallying a league-high eight times from outside the 18-yard box. He finished the regular season with 66 chances created and a USL-high 21 big chances created. Ledesma was instrumental in FC Cincinnati’s 23-match regular-season unbeaten streak, recording 12 goals and nine assists in that span.
“Emmanuel has been a sheer joy to watch create his magic on the field this season,” FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding said. “We knew we were bringing in a special player, but it has been great to see how quickly he settled into Cincinnati and how fast our community and fans embraced him. To have the year he did – the record-setting assists and the number of goals, not to mention the importance of many of his goals and assists to secure games for us – he truly had a season for the ages. We firmly believed Manu should be the USL Most Valuable Player this season, and we’re so proud to see that the rest of the league agreed.”
Ledesma was one of FC Cincinnati’s three USL award finalists. Forrest Lasso was named USL Defender of the Year on Monday, while Alan Koch was announced as USL Coach of the Year on Tuesday. FC Cincinnati was the only team to have multiple USL award winners for the 2018 season.
The next time Cincinnati takes the field, it will be as MLS’ 24th team in 2019 when the club debuts in the top professional league in the U.S. and Canada. Season tickets for the 2019 season are now on sale at fccincinnati.com/tickets.
For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati. For more information about FC Cincinnati tickets - including 2019 season tickets - call 513-977-KICK (5425) or visit fccincinnati.com/tickets.