The first matches in FC Cincinnati Academy history kick off this weekend when the Under-15 and Under-17 Teams play Saturday against Minnesota United FC in Blaine, Minn.
These matches are part of the DA Cup, which is a tournament to help identify the best youth teams in the country. Think of this as a teenage version of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
But for Cincinnati, it’s the first weekend in what hopes to be a prosperous future for the Academy and creating a pathway forward for FCC’s potential MLS Homegrown players.
“We’re excited for this first game,” U-17 Head Coach Ricardo Páez said. “We’ve prepared hard for almost five weeks of training, and we’re looking forward to getting results, but especially playing good soccer and develop these players. We have a lot of value in them.”
U-15 Head Coach Joshua Neff provided similar comments ahead of the first competitive matches.
“I’m excited for us to finally play a real game,” Neff said. “It’s good for us to have the two preseason games, but I think it’s better now for us to play regularly to have a fair assessment of where we’re at. Playing an MLS team in the very first game is a good barometer of where we stand.”
As he said, this weekend will be a barometer for the FCC Academy to see where it matches against another MLS academy. That it’s in a group stage match for a cup should up the ante.
FCC will have matches in three of the next four weekends. One weekend – Sept. 21 and 22 – sees two matches in as many days. Of these weekends, three games are against MLS competition.
In short, just as FC Cincinnati are in their inaugural season, the FCC Academy have their first year, too. Hopefully this weekend jumpstarts success.