Now that St. Louis FC has tucked tail and run to the USL’s Western Conference for 2016, we Louisville City fans will need a new foil/club on which to focus our ire, derision, and scorn. Fortunately for us, there’s the newly minted Fútbol Club Cincinnati just seventy miles up I-71!
First, the name: Fútbol Club Cincinnati. Fútbol. Yes, I’m quite aware that in Spanish, football is spelled fútbol. I’m also aware that Cincinnati is in Ohio, the midwestern United States. Cincinnati is not in Spain or Mexico or anywhere else where Spanish is the primary spoken language. You could almost forgive the name if there were a lot of Spanish speakers in greater Cincinnati area, or even if FCC aimed a dedicated portion of their myriad marketing fugues toward latin-americans, but they don’t. It might even make sense if the club had some kind of connection to Spain or Mexico or something, but again, nothing.
The name is silly, is what I’m getting at.
Next! Their colors and badge.
Orange and blue. Negative space soccer ball on top, so you know what kind of FC this is. Giant Arial Bold-type FC, little Cincinnati. A griffin wearing a crown and holding a sword in one hand/paw, and what looks like it could be another soccer ball in the other in case you weren’t sure the crown on top was a soccer ball.
I’m not a Cincinnati historian by any stretch, but I lived there for a while. Cincinnati, in my experience, is about the Reds and German heritage. That color combination bears no connection to the city, its flag, or anything else I can think of that has to do with Cincinnati. I have no idea what the multitasking griffin has to do with anything. Maybe the ill-fated Dayton Dutch Lions that still play in the PDL just up the road, but the Dutch Lions are not in any way affiliated with FCC. The club tried explaining what all that stuff was, but I came away more confused after I read it than I did before.
Granted, Louisville City’s logo (and it’s short-lived predecessor) is no gem and we shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses, but at least the club tried to incorporate, you know, Louisville-y themes into it. This one is bereft of one thing connecting the badge to the city, and maybe that’s the point.
NEXT! The kits!
If I were better at internet I’d ensmallen that photo a bit, but I’m not. Anyway, check this out: if you make the orange part red and exchange Alexi Lalas for our headless friend up there, it looks pretty much exactly like this:
The bomb-pop USMNT jersey from the 2014 FIFA World CupTM! Tsk, tsk, FC Cincinnati, trading on recent nostalgia like that. In all honesty, it’s not the worst thing we’ve ever seen (see e.g. St. Louis FC’s home jerseys for 2015), but for a club with aspirations like FCC has, ripping off Nike’s leftover stock seems a little parsimonious.
NEXT! The owners and management!
There’s a sizeable ownership contingent bankrolling FCC, but the most notable name is Carl Lindner, III. The Lindners, whose net worth is valued in the billions with a B, owned the Reds for a while and managed to waste some of the best years of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career in the process by spending no money on anything else. They own United Dairy Farmers, which, ok, is awesome. Carl is CEO of American Financial Group, which owns Great American Insurance, among lots of other things. Point is, dude’s wealthy. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily.
Next up is general manager Jeff Berding. Jeff used to work for the Bengals.
Ok, I like the Bengals but Mike Brown, the Bengals’ owner and GM, is the worst. I’ll assume some of that awfulness rubbed off on Jeff, and so should you. As evidence in support, he said this: “I didn’t leave the Bengals (where he was director of sales and public relations) because I wanted to run a USL team for the next 10 years. I want to run an MLS team.” Way to insult the league your team hasn’t even kicked a ball in yet, Jeff! We’re sure you’ll make lots of friends here.
The other public face of the team is John Harkes. Harkes is a USMNT legend from the 1990’s, but he’s never coached professional soccer before. Then again, neither had James O’Connor before last season, but shut up with your facts I’m trying to make fun of someone here. Harkes, unfortunately, is probably best known for getting the boot from the 1998 USMNT squad just before they went to the World Cup in France because he was having an affair with teammate Eric Wynalda’s wife. That’d be a little too mud-slingy for me usually, but this stuff is common knowledge in US Soccer circles.
Anyway, up to this point Harkes has said and done all the right things and generally flown under the radar so we’ll have to work on digging up things to annoy him as the season approaches.
Next! The Players!
Honestly we don’t know much about the roster other than they’ve got a couple of Louisville-connected guys, which is a little salty, and some guys that couldn’t hack it in MLS. Just like literally every other USL roster! If you search for their players on their website, by the way, you won’t find any. You will, however, find a long list of the club’s owners, staff, and sponsors prominently displayed under the “club” page.
Next! The Supporters!
Ok, the Pride are a thing, and they seem like they’re ready to engage us in #topbanter, so we’ll leave them alone. Besides, I think there’s only like five of them.
It should be noted, though, that FC Cincinnati doesn’t actually recognize the Pride (or any other supporters’ group), and instead are RECRUITING THEIR OWN ARMY to MAN THE WALL 10K STRONG. Good luck with that, given how your fan interactions have gone so far!
Finally! The Marketing Strategy!
This is probably the most ridiculous and mockable thing FC Cincinnati does. We’ve talked about their sad effort at drumming up local support for the team in advance of their announcement that they would join the USL before. It was bad enough to garner Deadspin’s attention.
Since then, FCC’s main social media mechanism, Twitter, is bloated mostly with announcements about the team’s next new corporate sponsor. The supporter’s section has a sponsor. The corner kicks will be sponsored. The goal posts will have sponsors. The sponsors will be presented by sponsors. Here are some more gems that this professional soccer club owned by a billionaire with a substantial marketing budget has produced:
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) December 26, 2015
I don’t even know what that means, and I like bad puns.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) December 19, 2015
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) December 17, 2015
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) November 6, 2015
Is John Harkes playing for FCC? He’s not? Then it’s not an FCC fact.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) October 16, 2015
ARE YOU ARMED TO THE TEETH SO YOU CAN PLAY SOCCER BECAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU PLAY WITH ARMOR WEAPONS AND SHIELDS AND GGGGAAAAAARRRRRR
To their credit, FCC marketing has gotten better and more palatable since they announced their first ten signings, but it’s still very #branding centric. It smacks of Darren Rovell for some reason, inauthentic and pander-y.
So that’s FC Cincinnati. We’ll talk more about their team when they bother to make a roster available to the league or on their own website, likely along with the rest of the East. In the meantime, we can’t wait to see what barbs you all come up with when we kick off our first match against Fútbol Club Cincinnati.