© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing the Medunjanin pick

(Note: The Orange and Blue signed Haris Medunjanin on Dec. 5. He was initially drafted by the club on Nov. 25 during the MLS Waiver Draft.)

Nothing’s official until Haris Medunjanin signs a contract, but once that’s sorted, FC Cincinnati have just added more competition in an area of the park that was already the club’s strength.  

On Monday afternoon, the club selected Medunjanin with the first pick in the MLS Waiver Draft. Now, the Orange and Blue just need to agree to a contract with the 34-year-old center midfielder who played in Philadelphia the last three seasons.

What Medunjanin provides…

In 2019, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international led the Philadelphia Union with 10 assists – twice the highest individual total at FCC last season.

But more impressively, Medunjanin played every minute for the Union in 2019: 34 games and 3,060 minutes. While that’s an astonishing feat, it reiterates his value as a player.

Playing as a holding midfielder, he connected the backline with the Philly midfield and thrived in a possession-based system for three seasons. So, as Cincinnati look to build a pass-first identity, acquiring someone who thrives in that system and can play literally every minute might be considered a perfect match.

Plus, he was frequently the Union’s set-piece specialist in 2019.

© Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

How this impacts the FCC midfield…

The Orange and Blue recently traded away a defensive midfielder, Victor Ulloa, so the position had a vacancy on the roster.

But looking at coach Ron Jans’ potential starting XI, it’s possible to envision a midfield trio of Medunjanin at the base behind Allan Cruz and Frankie Amaya. A double pivot could also be deployed that sees Medunjanin play alongside Leo Bertone or Caleb Stanko.

Having players comfortable in possession is an asset. For a team that wants to dominate possession in matches, it’s a necessity. Drafting Medunjanin to ensure that is good business.

Why FCC supporters should be excited…

On Monday, analyst Matt Doyle wrote:

“I mean, Medunjanin really is a wizard at manipulating the shape of the entire opposing defense and then getting the ball into wingers in space.”

This pick is exactly what the MLS End-of-the-Year Waivers process is intended to do.

After FC Cincinnati finished last in the league in 2019, they had the first pick and selected someone who can make an instant impact. And because Medunjanin is out of contract, he and the club can negotiate a deal that’s the right price for both parties.

Back in September, Philadelphia coach Jim Curtis said, “I believe (Medunjanin’s) been a Best XI player and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.” Well, maybe he’ll get that credit in Cincinnati – assuming contract terms can be agreed upon.