Garber: Sunday A “Heartwarming Day” For MLS

MLS Commissioner Don Garber wasn’t sure if Cincinnati was a soccer city. After all, previous soccer clubs came and went, and speculation around future MLS expansion never included the Queen City simply because there was never a sustainable team.

But then he visited the city on Nov. 29, 2016, after FC Cincinnati’s first USL season. That night, he spoke with FCC supporters at Woodward Theatre and said it was the first step in potentially becoming an MLS expansion franchise.

On Sunday afternoon, Garber stood on the Nippert Stadium concourse and took in Cincinnati’s first Supporters’ March as a top-division club.

“It was fun,” he said at halftime during FCC’s 3-0 win against the Portland Timbers. “I’ve only attended one other supporters’ march and that was in Seattle. I vowed I would never do that again. I say that with a smile because there’s an energy in those marches and it’s not about the guys in the suits.

“It’s really about them and them showing their pride in their club and in their city and in their colors. This was good to be a part of.”

Garber’s first visit to Cincinnati focused on MLS potential. On Sunday, he witnessed MLS reality in the Queen City – along with a sold-out crowd of 32,250 that saw FCC pummel the 2018 Western Conference champions.

“What a really, really special day for the city of Cincinnati, for Major League Soccer, for FC Cincinnati,” he said.

Earlier in the day, he visited the West End to walk the site of FCC’s future soccer-specific stadium. It opens in 2021.

Later, he got lunch in Over-The-Rhine, which he considered vibrant and exciting. After that came the Orange and Blue’s home opener, which Garber said was unlike previous ones he’s seen.

“I’ve had a lot of first matches for new teams and every one is particularly special,” he said. “But there something even more special here because it happened so quickly.

“I never really thought of Cincinnati as a real soccer city. And to see them standing for the first 45 minutes, I’m sure they’ll remain standing for the remaining 45 minutes in coming out and showing their love for the team. We’re very pleased and it’s a heartwarming day for us at MLS.”