Updated: Apr 3
Ladies and Gentlemen, we got him! FC Cincinnati have FINALLY announced the signing for Center Attacking Midfielder Luciano Acosta. Reports of FC Cincinnati‘s interest in Acosta surfaced over a month ago, and the deal was rumored to be done weeks ago. Following reports stated however that those rumors were premature. Even after Acosta’s Liga MX club Atlas announced the player’s transfer to FC Cincy, reports surfaced again that something was still holding up the signing. Finally, FCC has made it official.
The deal, as reported by MLSMULTIPLEX is expected to involve a transfer fee of $3 million to be paid to Atlas FC. Reports had stated that GM Gerard Nijkamp was looking to sign Luciano as a high level TAM player. With the transfer fee and Acosta’s salary, he is expected to be a Designated player. The deal with Atlas FC is only half of the equation however.
A deal also needed to be made with DC United, who owned Acosta’s player rights. The Washington Post’s Steven Goff posted: “Officially, D.C. United acquires $250,000 in General Allocation Money from Cincinnati for Luciano Acosta’s MLS rights, with "additional compensation based on mutually agreed upon incentives between the clubs by 2022." Goff stated “In reality: up to $325k this year, plus $225k next year.”
Acosta returns to MLS after leaving DC United last year for Mexican club Atlas FC. During his time in the league “Lucho” was one of the best midfielders in the past five years. In 126 games, Acosta tallied 24 goals and 35 assists. Much of that success was when he was when legend Wayne Rooney was with DC as well.
It is the hope of FC Cincy and their fans, that Acosta will thrive under a similar relationship with newly signed Brazilian Striker Brenner. Acosta and Rooney often tore defenses apart at DC United. They played so well together that a deal for Acosta with PSG in Serie A was close to being finalized. It was so close to being done that Luciano had traveled to Paris already to finalize the deal. The two clubs failed to make a last minute deal, and Acosta’s PSG dreams were dashed. He returned to DC United, now without Rooney, and struggled to regain his previous form. Whether his struggles were due to the anger and disappointment of missing his shot at the big time, or the fact that he didn’t have Rooney to aid him is unknown. One could not blame him for being upset.
After a lackluster final year in D.C., Acosta transferred to Atlas FC in liga MX. At Atlas FC, Acosta performed... OK. In 33 games in Liga MX He had 3 Goals and 2 Assists. However, his stats didn’t do justice to his quality. He still displayed the skills that made him an MLS star. Especially within the last month. Since the rumors of a transfer to FC Cincinnati and MLS, Acosta has played extremely well. He regained his starting spot, and helped Atlas move up in the table and clear of the relegation zone. Acosta was also voted to Liga MX Best 11 and was team MVP for multiple matches. FC Cincy fans were repeatedly reminded of that fact by Atlas FC’s English speaking Twitter account @AtlasFC_en . The account manager obviously knew of FC Cincy’s fans and their passion. The account ruetinely used Acosta as the club’s game time poster boy and even captioned one tweet “OUR No. 10”. An obvious troll of the FCC fans who anxiously waited confirmation on his signing. All in good fun however, as the same account confirmed the transfer on March 10th. LONG before FC Cincy did.
So which Luciano Acosta will FC Cincinnati get? Will they get the 2018 Lucho that shredded MLS? Or will he be more like that “OK“ Acosta that followed is partnership with Rooney and continued some into Liga MX? The answer is most likely neither. While FCC hope that Acosta‘s pairing with Brenner will catch lightning in a bottle again, just being an average MLS No. 10 will help the club tremendously.
FC Cincy hoped that they had a No. 10 last season in Siem De Jong that would provide much needed service to then blockbuster striker signing Jurgen Locadia. That was not the case. De Jong’s debut MLS season was also his last after posting zero goals and zero assists. De Jong’s stuggles explain why FC Cincy signed a replacement with a history of MLS success.
Some have argued that FC Cincinnati could have signed a player of equal or better value with the 3 mil transfer fee and done so without having to cough up potentially 550k (over 2 years) to D.C. It seems that Gerard Nijkamp has learned that even for very talented players, it takes time to adjust to life in MLS. last year’s DP singings Locadia and Kubo, while showing flashes of their talent, were not successful. However, expectations are that they will improve in this their Sophmore season in the league. Acosta has that MLS experience already. He’s shown that he can be a star in this league. His signing shows that FCC now knows that that experience is important.
The club will still look to improve on defense. Now that Acosta takes up the final DP slot, a TAM center back is in order. Nijkamp has said that a center back is a NEED not a WISH, so expect that to be the next addition. Just having a competent offense should help the defense on it’s own, and don’t forget the addition of left back Ronald Matarrita. Cincy isn’t playing around this season, they want to open that incredible stadium with a bang.
With the addition of Acosta, FC Cincinnati appear capable of making a big step up in this league. In fact, one could argue that on paper this may be a playoff team. At the very least, they should be exciting while on the attack. The addition of Brenner has moved Locadia to the wing, where he played quite well late in the 2020 season. The other Wing position will most likely have Yuya Kubo and Alvaro Barreal battling for time. Don’t sleep on Barreal folks! At just 20 years old, the young winger has shown signs of a breakout season. Last season he showed great pace and skill, and if his Instagram page is any indication, nobody has worked harder to prepare for this season. The young talent is there, and the club finally has a true no. 10 to link it all up.
So picture this FC Cincy fans, Acosta on the ball at midfield with Locadia, Brenner, and Kubo/Barreal in front of him. Get ready for some fireworks!
By: Rob Burkhardt