(Writer’s Note: I know I can’t speak for everyone at FC Cincinnati, but I hope these words match the thoughts and opinions of the team and its supporters.)
The news was devastating. After 102 competitive matches with FC Cincinnati through three USL seasons, only you and Corben Bone were selected to join the team for a fourth season – and a first MLS campaign. Yet before that MLS season could even begin, you tore your ACL a week before the club’s offseason training and were ruled out of playing in 2019.
So, as FC Cincinnati, the club you’ve been with from its start, made their maiden voyage in the league they always dreamed of playing in, you could only watch from the sidelines. And, as all of us know, you often didn’t watch good soccer.
But if there’s any solace, it’s that you’re potentially coming back. While your spot on the 2020 roster isn’t definite, it could be yours to earn, just like you earned after three years of exciting, hard-working play on FCC’s wings in 2016-18.
As one of the club’s first players, you didn’t know what you were signing up for. No one did. All you knew was you had another playing opportunity. Whatever would happen next, you were ready.
But then when that next came, you were one of the forerunners on everything special the Orange and Blue achieved.
In that first season, you literally played every match. Players like you were why a team like Crystal Palace could visit Nippert Stadium. And in 2017, you were part of the magical U.S. Open Cup run to the semifinals. No one will ever forget “that jump” after you converted your penalty kick against the Chicago Fire.
And no one forgets what you offer: pace down the flank, but an attacking ability to create by cutting inside and making a play. That’s why you’re the Pennsylvania Messi.
And that’s why FCC’s fan favorite from the first three seasons could be back for year five. Imagine the scenes if you were one of the first and last Cincinnati players to play at Nippert Stadium. With Corben Bone moving on, you’re the only “OG” who could still make that dream a reality.
You didn’t have to be there in 2019. You didn’t have to train on the side of practice while your teammates sprinted and dribbled past you. That probably felt like torture at times, but it showed your willingness to stand by your teammates, even if all you could provide was encouragement.
The beauty of your ACL injury recovery – and potentially another opportunity with Cincinnati – is you can provide a lot more in 2020.
When the preseason kicks off and the team has its first friendly matches, you’ll be one of the players fans root for the most – just like it’s always been.
Hopefully this isn’t a goodbye. In fact, maybe it’s the start of a new beginning. If it’s half as special as your first few FC Cincinnati seasons, just imagine what’s to come.
See you soon, and thank you, Jimmy.