FC Cincinnati acquired an international spot from Nashville on Dec. 31 – and it’s been pretty quiet ever since then.
The addition of the ninth international slot was the most recent order of business finalized by the Orange and Blue this offseason. FCC signed three new players in December but have eight roster spots still open.
Behind the scenes, there is plenty of work being done to rectify that, but while fans await signing news here are some of the latest nuggets of information I’ve collected…
Locadia still in play
Nijkamp confirmed Friday morning that the status of Jurgen Locadia’s loan remains unchanged, despite some speculation among the fan base that perhaps the club had sent him back to Brighton & Hove Albion.
The designated player on Thursday posted a selfie from London on Instagram, saying “You are exactly where you need to be” and also replied to a question asking where he’s been with “Im back no cap (lie).”
Locadia has been known for his cryptic/thought-provoking/artsy posts on social media but because Nijkamp has been non-committal about whether Locadia will stay for the remainder of his loan, it’s no wonder this particular post drew attention. However, he hadn’t posted since mid-November (perhaps why he says he is “back”) and also updated his profile with that same “You are exactly where you need to be” line in the bio.
Nijkamp said he wasn’t aware of any changes with the loan on Brighton’s end. Locadia is on loan until June 30 with a buy option at the end of that period and an automatic trigger to that based on playing time. The deal is favorable for both parties, if Locadia can return to his early 2020 form before the MLS shutdown and injuries impacted his season. Brighton can recoup almost half of the record $18.7 million transfer fee it paid PSV for Locadia in 2018 if FCC buys Locadia’s contract, which runs through June 2022.
Because of the uncertainty over the 2021 season start date and likelihood it is delayed into April or May, it’s possible FCC will attempt to extend the loan, but Brighton already agreed to a full year extension last year.
Waston finds landing spot
Two-year captain Kendall Waston, whose 2021 option was declined by the club in November, is returning to club that gave him his first professional contract in 2006. Waston, 33, signed on Friday with Saprissa, of the Costa Rican first division, where he played until leaving for MLS in 2014 when he signed with Vancouver.
Waston, a 6-foot-5 center back known for his physical play, played 32 league games, including 31 starts, with FCC over its first two seasons but no longer fit the team’s style of play requiring more mobile defenders.
A few other players who departed from FCC this offseason also have found landing spots. Jimmy McLaughlin, whose 2021 option was declined, signed with USL Championship side Louisville City two weeks ago, and Siem de Jong, who didn’t meet performance measures to trigger an option, signed on Dec. 4 with Dutch club SC Heerenveen.
Awaiting start dates
According to a club spokesperson, FCC hasn’t set a report date – as instructed by the league until a start date for the 2021 season is determined – but some players have begun to arrive back in town after more than two months away. Brandon Vazquez, Allan Cruz, Caleb Stanko and Nick Hagglund have been working together at ProForce Sports Performance in Milford.
Assistant coach Yoann Damet and goalkeepers coach Jack Stern also are back as well, while Nijkamp, head coach Jaap Stam and assistant Said Bakkati remain in The Netherlands.
League officials have said they hope to start the season in mid- to late March but have not released a schedule and don’t appear close to doing so.
MLS invoked a force majeure clause on Dec. 29, which allowed the league to reopen negotiations on a new CBA for a third time in 18 months, and the MLS Players Association has not yet responded to a Jan. 4 proposal. The league is agreeing to keep salaries at present levels but freeze the salary budge increase between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, which MLSPA executive director Bob Foose indicated would be costly for the players.
The players union is in no rush to reach an agreement, as Foose believes delaying the start of the season is best for all parties as conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to improve as more people get vaccinated. He said Wednesday players need to enjoy the offseason as long as they can (while still staying in shape), so it’s unlikely without a CBA they would participate in team activities anyway.
This and that…
Damet and Stern took part in a club-wide tour of the West End Stadium on Sunday, as FCC awaits a chance to start planning its first home game there this season. The field recently was laid with sod and only warming lights are allowed on it as the grass settles and grows into its new home.
Rumors that Przemyslaw Tyton’s green card is in hand might still be premature. According to a club spokesperson, there is “no update yet” on green card status.
FCC staff are continuing to work remotely because of the ongoing pandemic, but according to job listings on TeamWork Online, the club is hiring an accounting coordinator and senior payroll coordinator.
The MLS SuperDraft takes place Jan. 21, and FCC currently has the second pick. The league announced eligible players Thursday.
If you have any questions for the next mailbag, I plan to post one Tuesday so be sure to send them in by mid-afternoon Monday!