CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati has signed midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma ahead of FC Cincinnati’s debut season in Major League Soccer.
As a foreign player, Ledesma will occupy an international roster spot on Cincinnati’s 2019 MLS roster. He is one of four players currently signed to the 2019 roster, alongside forward Fanendo Adi, midfielder Fatai Alashe and midfielder Corben Bone.
“This feels really good, this is something that I have been working towards since signing with FC Cincinnati,” Ledesma said, “Two years ago, it was my first season in the USA and from the beginning I was thinking about MLS. To be fair, at the beginning, it felt that MLS was so far away, but now it is so close to me and I am really, really happy. I am very excited.”
An Argentine playmaker, Ledesma has scored 65 goals and added 40 assists across 260 combined appearances in his 11-year professional career. In FC Cincinnati’s third and final United Soccer League season, Ledesma had a sensational year where he scored 16 goals and added 16 assists en route to winning the USL Most Valuable Player.
“Manu proved to be a difference maker on a number of occasions for us last season,” FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch said. “While he had a special season at the USL level this year, I know he is driven to have greater success at the MLS level next year. We value not only talent, but his character to reinforce the special culture we have created in Cincinnati and believe that Manu provides both components for our group.”
Ledesma signed with FC Cincinnati’s USL franchise on Jan. 24, 2018 ahead of its third season in the league. He had his best-ever professional season in 2018, setting USL single-season records in assists (16) and combined goals and assists (32). In addition, Ledesma became the first player in the USL’s modern era to notch at least 15 goals and 15 assists in a season.
In 31 matches played, with 30 starts, he led all FC Cincinnati players in both goals (16) and assists (16). On the season, he posted four multiple-goal games and three multiple-assist efforts. Four of his goals were game-winners, while five of his assists set up the game-winning goal. He also finished inside the league’s top 10 in chances created. Ledesma was a two-time USL Player of the Month (June, September) and was a nine-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.
Ledesma’s professional career began in 2008, when he debuted with Queens Park Rangers of the English Championship on loan from Italian Serie A club Genoa. He spent the first four years of his career between Italian and English sides including QPR (2008-09), U.S. Salernitana 1919 (2009), Novara Calcio (2009-10), FC Crotone (2010) and Walsall (2011). In 2011, Ledesma had a loan spell with Argentine side Defensa y Justicia. The Argentinian spent the next few years exclusively in England, where he played with Walsall (2012), Middlesbrough (2012-15), Rotherham United (2014-16), Brighton and Hove Albion (2015) and Brentford (2016). Ledesma concluded 2016 by playing a half season in Greece’s top division with Panetolikos. He made his debut in the United States when he played for the NASL’s New York Cosmos in 2017, followed by his USL stint with FC Cincinnati in 2018.
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.
Transaction: FC Cincinnati signed M Emmanuel Ledesma as a free agent on Nov. 26, 2018.
Jersey Number: 45
Birthdate: May 24, 1988
Birthplace: Quilmes, Argentina
Hometown: Quilmes, Argentina
Last Club: FC Cincinnati (USL)
MLS Roster Status: International Player
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent on Nov. 26, 2018.