Lasso Earns Clean Sheet In First MLS Start

When Forrest Lasso signed his first professional contract with the Charleston Battery, initial appearances required him to play out of position just to receive playing time. The center back was used as an aerial-threat forward late in games.

Later, when Charleston became an affiliate for Atlanta United FC, Lasso sometimes lost his starting job because Atlanta sent a player down for additional playing experience. Previously, he’s called it frustrating.

Even when this 2019 preseason started, Lasso was consistently the club’s third center defender in the back three. But when the team changed to a back four, Lasso lost his starting spot and had to work his way back into Head Coach Alan Koch’s plans.

Perhaps that backstory made Sunday afternoon all the more special for Lasso.

After earning his first MLS start, Lasso and FC Cincinnati earned their first road win in their new league with a gritty 2-0 performance against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.

“Today is honestly the top one,” he said for best moments in his career. “I had some special moments in college and last year we had a handful of special moments, but again, no disrespect to the USL, but that was the USL. Now, I’m at the highest level I’ve played in in my personal career.”

Playing alongside Nick Hagglund in the back four, Lasso helped the Orange and Blue improve to three games unbeaten and record a second-straight clean sheet. FCC have gone 265 minutes without conceding, which is second in MLS behind D.C. United.

Some of that is a testament to Lasso.

Against New England, he produced 11 clearances, three blocks, two tackles and an interception. He also won Cincinnati possession three times.

“Not surprised (by Lasso’s performance),” Koch said. “He’s shown big moments for us already at this club. He did exactly what we know he’s capable of doing. He embraced that opportunity and I’m very, very happy for him.”

Lasso helped FC Cincinnati’s backline become a proverbial brick wall last season in USL play. During the record 23-straight unbeaten matches, he played the majority of minutes and matches. That level of success – and reliability – helped him receive his first MLS contract. Now that he has one appearance, he’s showing why he belongs in the country’s premier division.

“We did our job,” he said. “I can speak personally, I can speak for the back four, I can speak for the back 11. We got the three points, we got the W, but we also got the clean sheet. That was my job and I did it. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but we got it done, so I can be happy with that.”

Lasso started in place of Kendall Waston, who captained FC Cincinnati in the first three games. Waston is currently with the Costa Rica National Team. 

When he returns, it’s uncertain how a full-strength backline alters playing time for Lasso and other defenders. Regardless, he’s shown he can come step in when needed and earn points for Cincinnati.

Through four games, the club has seven points. The next match is Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union at Nippert Stadium.

Given FCC’s current form, it’s exciting looking ahead. But performances like Lasso’s against New England serve as a reminder why it’s just as exciting to enjoy the present.

“(Sunday) was a dream come true,” Lasso said. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. I got a clean sheet so I did my job.”