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Harkes Enthused as Cincinnati Kicks Off Preseason

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 02/02/17, 10:13AM EST


FCC aiming to build on experience from inaugural season with new additions

Photo courtesy FC Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati officially kicked off its second preseason on Wednesday morning as players were put through their paces in conditioning drills to start the build-up to the 2017 USL season.

For FCC Head Coach John Harkes the feeling was different than from a year ago when the club was bringing together an entirely new squad. With a majority of the squad back for Year 2, including All-League goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt and defender Harrison Delbridge, continuing the club’s growth is the principle focus.

“When you start Year 2, the first thing that you have under your belt is a little bit more of an idea of what you’re about as a collective,” Harkes told FCC’s official YouTube channel. “Now it’s about figuring out the new guys that we’ve added in, what their personalities are like, how they’re going to challenge the guys we have here and I think we’re excited because the offseason is too long.”

Cincinnati fortified its squad after the departure of 2016 USL Most Valuable Player Sean Okoli to Major League Soccer’s New York City FC with the addition of former Seattle Sounders FC and OKC Energy FC forward Andy Craven, and ex-FC Edmonton striker Darryl Fordyce. Two former rivals also arrived from Louisville City FC, with midfielders Kadeem Dacres and Aodhan Quinn adding to an already strong group.

Getting the team’s new faces up to speed in preseason is an early goal, but Harkes said allowing the integration into the squad isn’t something the club is looking to rush.

“You don’t want to race to do that, it’s not like a timeframe of pushing hard, you don’t want to force it,” he said. “It’s more about the everyday managing of individuals as well as the group. They know what the expectations are, so the more that we communicate with them and get in touch with them, we get to figure each other out and they feel relaxed and enjoy the atmosphere. To me, I can tell already tell just from this group, they’re excited to be here.”

With the club set to head both to the world-class facilities of IMG Academy for training and a number of preseason scrimmages and to California for trip that includes a headlining preseason contest with Sacramento Republic FC next month, the energy within the group on the opening was evident that the team is ready to get to work.

“You could see that on them, they want to get their first touch on the ball, they want to get involved, they want to mix in with the group,” said Harkes. “Again, it’s about character. We’ve always had good character within FC Cincinnati, that’s what drove on our success and we’re building on that and want to continue with that.”

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