down the hatch

Down The Hatch: Oct. 11

Hey, FC Cincinnati fans.

With the season finishing last Sunday and the 2020 initial roster plans coming out Wednesday afternoon, this seemed like the perfect time to answer your roster questions about the club’s present and future the best I could. Remember, these are MY PERSONAL thoughts.

Questions can be submitted below, on Twitter by tweeting to @charliehatch_ or by emailing me at


Before I proceed, the club had two DPs in 2019. Fanendo Adi was a Designated Player, while Allan Cruz was a Young DP. Both have guaranteed contracts to return in 2020. But with the club and Adi both saying they’re interested in going in different directions, per The Athletic and The Enquirer, that could change things.

That said, I do think FCC could bring in another DP next season, even if it’s a Young DP. This roster needs improvement and a move like that shows improvement – as long as that player is productive.


FC Cincinnati haven’t announced anything yet regarding a team in the USL, but Jeff Berding noted at the Town Hall in early September that they’re looking at the team’s development pyramid and what that means at the post-Academy age groups.

In my opinion, adding a USL team will come in the future. Because the Academy isn’t producing significant numbers of players that need professional experience yet – like North Texas SC of FC Dallas – there’s no rush for a USL One team in 2020. That will change over time as players continue to develop in the club’s youth system.

What’s more likely, to me, is the club creating an affiliate in the USL Championship or USL League One. That means FCC won’t have to stock a full team roster, and can loan players and recall players with relative ease.


All of the above?

Look, this team needed something to play for at the end of the season, and that player meeting after the Toronto FC loss made it clear plans were to switch to a results-based approach to end the season. Thus, the team played more defensive.

Yes, I think part of that was simply because this club lacked players suited to play the high press coach Ron Jans wants and what General Manager Gerard Nijkamp is seeking to create. But a high press isn’t always doable, as we saw, and as such, FCCopted to try to prevent other teams from scoring rather than create chances – thus going more defensive in the last weeks of the season.

Truthfully – in my opinion – that defensive style was how FCC’s 2019 roster was intended to play. That changed in May with the first coaching change, but the playing style of the players didn’t, and thus, we saw a hybrid. I think FCC drifts closer to a high press in the long term, but there will be short-term matches with defensive tactics.


FC Cincinnati won’t have to release a protected list for another month, so there’s still time for the club to formulate that 12-man list (or up to 12 players). Who the club decides to leave unprotected is hard to say, and there are some contractual elements that I’m not privy to that affect those decisions.  


No. If a team has a player drafted by either Inter Miami or Nashville, then the club cannot lose another player. The maximum number of players a club can lose in the expansion draft is one – but they do get $50,000 in compensation General Allocation Money (GAM) if a player is chosen. 


  1. I didn’t mean to give anyone a heart attack, but anyone surprised by the “Thank you, Jimmy” story didn’t read the story before freaking out – especially with the news earlier Wednesday afternoon. :) 1.5 – Jimmy McLaughlin is negotiating with the club, meaning there’s a mutual interest in seeing his return. We don’t know the terms until they’re released.
  2. I think FCC approach every window hoping to sign a notable name, but if that doesn’t seem like the right approach to build the team, it won’t happen. One big name won’t change a club that finished last in the league. There needs to be collective improvement.
  3. Emmanuel Ledesma’s contract is in the same situation as McLaughlin’s. Again, there’s interest in seeing both return in 2020 – but that’s never guaranteed until all the paperwork is finalized.


I think the Orange and Blue will actively move players if it’s right for the team. As former coach Alan Koch always said, “Every player has a price.” If another team meets that price, it’s time to sell.

I think it’d be realistic to see 2-5 players on the last not return – whether through trades, Expansion Draft, etc. That number could be too high or too low – but I just don’t see that full list coming back.


It’s tough to give examples of specific potential signings since so much goes into those decisions – including budget, scouting, contract situations, etc. That said, you can look at what the club has done so far under Nijkamp to see what might be likely this offseason. I can give an example. FC Cincinnati want fullbacks that are fast and can get forward to help on attacks, in addition to being solid defenders. Greg Garza fits that mold, and Andrew Gutman’s arrival on loan solidified that. I expect moves like that. Gutman provided depth, but a style similar to Garza and one that fits what FCC want to achieve.


1.Up top, I personally think at least one, maybe two players leave the club through some sort of mechanism. With players going out, that means there is room for more to come in, and, hopefully, make an instant impact. You’re right, though, that someone can’t come instantly with so much depth.

2.Victor Ulloa’s contract expires at the end of 2019, whereas Leo Bertone and Caleb Stanko are on guaranteed contracts. So, unless Stanko and Bertone are sold, they were expected to return in 2020. With Ulloa’s contract expiring, Nijkamp decided not to renew the center midfielder’s contract.