When FC Cincinnati announced their initial roster moves, the club’s decision on its loan players would be revealed at a later date. That was Thursday.
On Thursday morning, the Orange and Blue announced Logan Gdula and Hassan Ndam will have their contract options executed, while Derrick Etienne Jr. and Forrest Lasso will have their respective options declined.
Here’s my take:
Before assessing each individual scenario, it’s worth noting three of these players were signed by different roster-building group than what currently exists.
The fullback was second on FCC’s draftboard last January (behind Frankie Amaya), so his talent was clearly valued.
Come 2020, Gdula enters his second professional season seeking his MLS debut, but now with experience. In 2019, he had three loan stints: one with Phoenix Rising FC and two with the Hartford Athletic. He also spent time in Cincinnati between stops in Hartford.
As a rookie, he played across the Athletic backline, meaning he’s more dynamic now than he was when Cincinnati drafted him No. 13 overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
Can he use that experience to help earn an MLS debut? That’s the big question for Gdula moving forward.
FC Cincinnati selected Ndam fifth in the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft because they had firsthand experience playing against him and saw the potential he possessed. Ndam played no small part in seeing Cincinnati eliminated by New York Red Bulls II in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs.
Which is why Ndam’s ability should translate to MLS experience.
Having recently turned 21, the Cameroonian defender is the team’s second-youngest player and is still in the early stages of his professional career.
Despite being on loan with the Charlotte Independence last season, he spent the majority of the year training in an MLS environment at the Mercy Health Training Center. Can that experience lead to an MLS roster spot and minutes for the Orange and Blue?
Derrick Etienne Jr.
When the Haiti international joined FC Cincinnati on loan from the Red Bulls, GM Gerard Nijkamp remarked it was significant that FCC held an option to buy Etienne.
Roughly around the same time, I wrote that I felt Etienne and Joseph-Claude Gyau were competing for a 2020 roster spot. After all, they were signed the same day and occupy the same position.
For Gyau, he played more and more as his time progressed in Cincinnati. By the season finale, he was a cemented starter. As for Etienne, his role reduced when he had international duty and missed the Sept. 7 match against Toronto FC. After that, he missed the next two games with a hamstring injury.
While he’s a talented young player with potential, the club opted not to pick up Etienne’s loan purchase option.
After earning 2018 USL Defender of the Year honors with FC Cincinnati, he joined the club in its transition into MLS. But when the season started, he played a backup role as Kendall Waston and Nick Hagglund started ahead of him.
Lasso ended up making a handful of appearances for Cincinnati in 2019, but then went on loan to Nashville SC in late July. His departure coincided with Maikel van der Werff making his first of 11 appearances with FCC.
Looking at FCC’s current depth at center back, the club has Waston, van der Werff, Hagglund and Ndam. If Lasso stayed, that would’ve meant every rostered center back from the 2019 team would return in 2020.