From MLS Dreams To Reality: A Year In Review

A year ago Wednesday, Jeff Berding stood on stage in a packed Rhinegeist Taproom and delivered the words he dreamed of saying years ago when he sat at his kitchen table scribbling visions of FC Cincinnati.

The club that started on a legal pad in 2015 was joining MLS in 2019. It was a reason to celebrate, exhale in relief and continue dreaming of the future.

A lot happened between 2015 and that day in May – including a second-tier club outdrawing MLS teams in attendance and “that” 2017 U.S. Open Cup run.

But a lot’s happened since May 29, 2018, too.

First came the 23-game game unbeaten streak that shattered previous notions of success in USL. The Orange and Blue finished the 2018 campaign with the best regular season in league history.

Following that came a groundbreaking at FCC’s future homes: the $250 million, privately funded West End Stadium and the $30 million privately funded Mercy Health Training Center. 

MHTC was announced as a vision last summer, is being constructed into a world-class facility to house the first team and an academy. That academy had its first tryouts Tuesday night.

In short, so much has followed the formal launch in MLS. So much more will continue taking shape in the weeks, months and years ahead.

If the three USL seasons proved anything, they showed FC Cincinnati are a club that routinely shatter expectations and provide supporters with reasons to believe into the future.

Often, it feels like things are never done simply. That’s because they aren’t.

When Berding, the club president, wanted to establish an MLS club, he wanted to join the league within four years because Orlando City SC, another former USL club, needed five years.

Even Cincinnati’s first goal this season was something that may never be replicated again: a sublime volley from Leo Bertone that saw the ball fall from the sky, then fly toward the net. That a goal of such class happened 13 minutes into the club’s inaugural MLS game didn’t feel like fate as much as another reminder that expectations for this team are trumped again and again.

Of course, everything’s not perfect. Currently, FC Cincinnati sit 12th in the Eastern Conference standings with an interim head coach. And answers to questions that are currently open are expected in the coming weeks. 

Perhaps this is the first time in Orange and Blue history that’s been the case. If not, the other instance was the speculation surrounding an MLS expansion bid.

That turned out well.

If Cincinnati has proven anything, it’s the amount of success that happened so quickly. There’s no reason why will stop anytime soon.