CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati announced on Wednesday it had signed 2018 USL Championship Most Valuable Player Emmanuel Ledesma for its inaugural season in Major League Soccer in 2019, with the 30-year-old Argentine joining fellow USL All-League selection Corben Bone in making the transition to the club’s squad for the new season.
Ledesma had a historic first season in Cincinnati, setting a USL Championship single-season record with 16 assists while also becoming the first player in the league’s modern era to record at least 15 goals and 15 assists in the regular season. Ledesma contributed to 32 goals in FCC’s 2018 Regular Season Championship, also a new high by a single player.
“This feels really good, this is something that I have been working towards since signing with FC Cincinnati,” Ledesma said. “Two years ago, it was my first season in the USA and from the beginning I was thinking about MLS. To be fair, at the beginning, it felt that MLS was so far away, but now it is so close to me and I am really, really happy. I am very excited.”
Ledesma follows current Minnesota United FC standout Kevin Molino in remaining with a USL Championship side as it made the move to Major League Soccer, with the Trinidad & Tobago international having won the award for Orlando City SC in 2014 prior to remaining with the Lions for its inaugural MLS campaign in 2015.
“Manu proved to be a difference maker on a number of occasions for us last season,” FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch said. “While he had a special season at the USL level this year, I know he is driven to have greater success at the MLS level next year. We value not only talent, but his character to reinforce the special culture we have created in Cincinnati and believe that Manu provides both components for our group.”
The Argentine is the second FC Cincinnati player to have claimed USL Championship MVP honors, following Sean Okoli in the 2016 season.