© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bertone was the midfield buoy in 2019

Leo Bertone arrived at FC Cincinnati with an impressive resumé.

His last match in Europe was against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in the UEFA Champions League. And in his MLS debut, he scored the club’s goal of the year just 13 minutes into the season.

But what Bertone provided throughout Cincinnati’s inaugural MLS season wasn’t one highlight-reel moment after another. Instead, it was the small details being done efficiently.

The Swiss center midfielder possesses a passing ability that can slice through opposing teams. If there’s space for an extra touch or pass, Bertone can effectively use it. And when FCC are out of possession, he can win the ball back to regain momentum.

Perhaps that’s why in a season of constant change, Bertone’s role was unchanged.

In 2019, he made 25 appearances, including 22 starts. His lone goal was against Seattle Sounders FC in the season opener, and he also provided two assists.

But what Bertone provides best is dependability.

© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As the season progressed and tactics tinkered, the midfielder played both in a box-to-box role and as a deeper, defensive midfielder. Come 2020 – and based on how the 2019 season ended – the latter position will likely be where Bertone starts, with Frankie Amaya and Allan Cruz playing in more advanced roles.

That was the trio deployed in FC Cincinnati’s last win – Sept. 14 at the Montreal Impact – and the one that would’ve earned the club three points in the home finale if the Orange and Blue hadn’t conceded in stoppage time to draw, 1-1, with Orlando City SC.

Expect the trio to start together in 2020, especially as Amaya becomes more comfortable as a professional player and Cruz and Bertone return to the league for a second year after spending their first adapting to the country, language and competition in America.  

If so, that’ll be noticeably different from 2019, when the midfield selections changed weekly due to tactics, injuries and simply an abundance of center midfielders.

“It can be good or not good,” Bertone said of midfield competition. “If you have a lot of midfielders, then the (competition) is big and everyone has to fight. It will be a different season. We can only do better and we learned from this season.”

Last season was filled with change – for the club and Bertone. In 2020, it’s the hope that less change is a positive for all. If that’s the case, Bertone’s stability and consistently should be pivotal for the FC Cincinnati midfield, and in turn, the team’s quality.