Position Breakdown: Goalkeeper

With the inaugural season in MLS complete, FC Cincinnati can turn their attention toward 2020. Keeping that mentality, here’s a glance at which players will return next season, based on their respective 2019 campaigns:

Przemysław Tytoń

MLS appearances: 15

MLS starts: 15

Minutes played this season: 1,350

Few players had as fascinating of a season as “Titi,” who arrived in Cincinnati having not started a competitive match since October 2017. With that in mind, former coach Alan Koch said the preseason was about getting Tytoń sharp through preseason appearances. With Spencer Richey recovering from a groin injury, the starting goalkeeper spot was one of the few positions with a starter cemented.

When then the season started, Tytoń played the league opener at Seattle Sounders FC, but he was dealing with an injury concern he picked up during preseason that forced him to miss several games. Once healthy, he became the backup goalkeeper through July. After starting at San Jose on May 4, Tytoń didn’t start another league match until July 28 at Toronto FC. (He played in both 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games.)

But once the former Poland international returned to the lineup – when Richey suffered a back injury in early August – Tytoń remained the starter the remainder of the season and delivered one strong performance after another.

Arriving needing minutes, he ended the season with plenty of them – and momentum to help push into the offseason. There was a time when Tytoń trained with a small, local team in Poland just to stay fit. Now, he could be FCC’s goalkeeper of the future. It’s an impressive turnaround, and something to remember entering the 2020 preseason.

Spencer Richey

MLS appearances: 19

MLS starts: 19

Minutes played this season: 1,710

There are two ways to gauge Richey’s season. The first is that he recovered from a groin injury that nagged him in 2018, only to become the clear-cut starter before a back injury in late July ended his season prematurely. That’s an optimistic viewpoint. The other view says he’s been effective, but injured, and would need more consistency moving forward.

The reality, though, is Richey went from 2018 USL backup to becoming arguably the team’s MVP the last half of 2018. When the campaign ended – and his loan from Vancouver Whitecaps FC did, too – the Orange and Blue brought him along for their future. And once he was given his opportunity, he seized it and never looked back.

Before 2019, Richey had only played once in MLS previously. Starting in week two, he started and appeared in 19 of FCC’s first 22 games. He played all but one league match under Yoann Damet’s tenure as interim coach. But after a back injury, he didn’t play again after July 21.

Now that the season is over, Richey is back to full health and taking part in the team’s postseason training. Of the 34 regular-season games last season, the goalkeeper duo of Richey and Tytoń only made a matchday squad together 15 times (44%). If Richey and Tytoń are both competing for the starting spot in 2020, they both need to stay healthy as well.

That said, what Richey achieved this season was a strong campaign at the highest level of soccer he’s competed. That’s an impressive achievement, and should be the final prognosis of his 2019.

Jimmy Hague

MLS appearances: 0

MLS starts: 0

Minutes played this season: 0

The zeroes in his statistics are pretty misleading. Yes, Hague did not make his MLS debut after being selected in the SuperDraft in January, but he provided stability as a backup this season in a position that saw change throughout the year. Through that, Hague’s role did not change.

Hague was on the bench for 19 games this season, meaning he was a play away from his MLS debut. That he was part of the game day environment meant there was a belief in the young prospect. Now, with his first year as a professional concluded, how can he build on that and potentially earn his Cincinnati debut in 2020? That’s the biggest question surrounding Hague entering the offseason after a commendable 2019.

*Ben Lundt

MLS appearances: 0

MLS starts: 0

Minutes played this season: 0

*Lundt is on loan to Louisville City FC in the USL Championship.

After signing an MLS contract on Feb. 6, Lundt was loaned to Louisville on Feb. 7. So he never played for the Orange and Blue, and he hasn’t played for Lou City since early June because of an ankle injury.

However, from the time Lundt got to Louisville until his injury, he was the cemented starting goalkeeper for the two-time reigning USL champions. That the club had that much faith in Lundt’s potential should be seen as promising.

Louisville’s season is still ongoing, but it’s worth looking ahead into 2020. Can the German goalkeeper stay on the FCC roster throughout next season? That’ll be something to watch for.