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FC Cincinnati Preps For First MLS Game, Future

FC Cincinnati's mascot, Gary, got his name after fans spotted the name hidden in the team's logo.
Bill Rinehart
FC Cincinnati's mascot, Gary, got his name after fans spotted the name hidden in the team's logo.

Days before FC Cincinnati starts its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, the general manager is looking at how the team got to where it is. Jeff Berding says the last four years have been intense, but fun and enjoyable. He says fan support is responsible for the minor league club moving to the big league.

"When MLS began the expansion process, let's be honest, no one was really putting Cincinnati in the mix," Berding says. "It wasn't FC Cincinnati, it was this sports town. It was all the people coming to our games. It was the environment in our stadium. It was the passion. That's what caught people's attention." 

Now that they've reached big league, Berding says they have to prove they belong. He says the team wants to win, and they think they have the ability to make the playoffs. "We're building the foundation the first two years. If we were to miss the playoffs, but be competitive in year one, and then put ourselves in the position to make the playoffs and have an opportunity to compete for a cup in year two, you know, we'll see."

Berding says he's bullish.

Once a new stadium in the West End is built and open, Berding says the team would be interested in a women's team, should the National Women's Soccer League look at expansion. "We certainly see that on the horizon," he says. "Girls soccer in this region is very strong. It has a deep talent pool. It's probably deeper than the boys' side. The girls' side is exceptional in this market and we are going to continue to find ways to support their development and their ambition."

Berding says FC Cincinnati is already a major sponsor of the Cincinnati Development Academy, which teaches girls how to improve their game.

FC Cincinnati's first MLS match is this Saturday in Seattle.

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.