They say “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Since entering MLS two seasons ago, FC Cincinnati has been Big NAME Hunters. Unfortunately, they‘ve had the accuracy of your average stormtrooper. They’ve missed the mark on big name stars such as Gaston Pereiro, Mario Gotze, and most recently Papu Gomez. You gotta give the front office credit, they’re going BIG, But Is that a feasible option for an MLS team that is 2 for 2 in wooden spoons? Maybe not.
To be fair, they’ve been close. PSV and Gaston Pereiro himself were ready to sign at the dotted line. It was Gaston’s shady agent Paco Casal who torpedoed the deal. He had made a deal elsewhere for Gaston, not wanting his prize client to go to MLS. For the other stars FCC didn’t get past the offer stage. You could argue that even their “Hits” have been misses. Namely Siem De Jong, and Jurgen Locadia (so far).
Most recently FCC reportedly went all in on Papu Gomez with a rumored 10 mil per year salary offer. But Papu chose less money to stay in Europe with Sevilla. That‘s disappointing for we Cincy fans, but can you blame him?
Put yourselves in the shoes of these players. If you have an option to play in one of Europe’s top leagues or the option to come to MLS‘s worst team (hurts, but we are) for more money, which would you choose? It would have to be A LOT more money. Cincinnati is a great city. It’s safe, clean, a great place to live and raise a family. We don’t have L.A. or Miami’s perfect weather and beautiful beaches, or the big city life of NYC or Chicago. We’re a smaller market, in Ohio. We need other things to draw these stars to our town. We do have some things going for us however.
FC Cincinnati has a big time ownership group that is willing to splash some cash, a training center that has been compared to that of legendary clubs, a state of the art soccer specific stadium just a couple months from being completed, a Legendary player for a coach in Jaap Stam and a fanbase that rivals the best in all of MLS. What we don’t have? A winning tradition. Even with all those great attibutes, signing a big name European star is going to be an uphill battle until we can show that we are just that one player away from competing for a championship.
So what do we do? For starters, why do we HAVE to only go to Europe for signings? There’s plenty of talented players right here in MLS or in South America that would be much easier to sign. Well, our GM Gerard Nijkamp is a European guy. Thats what he knows, that’s where his connections are. To be fair, he has started to look to South American leagues. The young talented winger Alvaro Barreal who hails from Argentina was exciting in the short amount of time we saw him. He’s also signed Ronald Matarrita from NYCFC this off season.
Maybe they should get some base hits first before they start trying to hit that home run signing. You don’t have to have a superstar on the club to win games. Maybe they build a solid, balanced team that wins some games before they go try to sign a European superstar. After missing on Papu Gomez, that may be their only option. FCC has spent a lot of time and attention on Gomez and Europe’s transfer window closes on February 1st. The club has MAJOR holes to fill in the roster, most importantly a #10. It’s not a “Wish” as Nijkamp would say, it’s a ”NEED”. We’re looking at another wooden spoon if we don’t fill that position. We’ll see if there’s a plan B, C... We hope so. Assuming that Nijkamp will continue to favor Europe, this week will be very telling.
Do FC Cincinnati keep hunting the big Name? Will they miss out again? Maybe they have solid players waiting to sign as that “Plan B.” The answer lies in whether or not two smacks with the wooden spoon and missing yet another shot at a superstar, will cause them set their sights elsewhere. But hey, Remember that Stormtrooper that shot Princess Lea in Return of the Jedi? Anything is possible. Mr. Nijkamp, you may fire when ready. Sooner rather than later please.
By: Rob Burkhardt