If at first you don't succeed...

Cincinnati tries, tries again with signing of Brenner

It was 2009 when I realized that I was covering the circus, rather than a professional soccer team.

I remember the moment vividly.

Coincidentally, I was just outside Gate 1 at BMO Field when my phone rang. I had been out for a particularity bad run, so I was more than happy to stop to take the call, which was coming from a number that had been quite helpful in getting me information over the years.

“Hello,” I said, expecting some juicy CSA info (this was a Canada soccer contact, not a MLS contact).

“You’re not going to believe what the idiots did now,” the voice said without bothering to say hello.

Now, there were lots of people in Canadian soccer that “the idiots” could describe at the time, so I asked for clarification.

“Which idiots in particular are we talking about?”

“TFC,” the voice said. “They just fired Preki!”

The Reds had been on a bit of a slump, no doubt, but firing the coach less than a year after they had brought him in as the guy that surely was going to finally get TFC going did, in fact, deserve to be called idiotic. That was especially the case, when it was then explained to me, that the players had basically forced the change because, as far as I have ever been able to figure out, he was being mean to them.

They really were the worst team in the world, man.

I often think of that moment and that era when I’m talking about FC Cincinnati now. Although most of the credit for getting over the bad years and making people forget about just how terrible it was goes to TFC itself, the emergence of an equally bad team to distract us with the lols has helped as well.

FC Cincinnati tried to build through the draft! They handed half their allocation money to TFC for a back-up defender because he was from Ohio! They have absolutely wasted great and unexpected support with just horrendous play!

One other example of many: In 2019, LAFC made a trade with Cincy. They approached the club and asked for something that didn’t make any sense to anyone not paying attention – the club’s allocation spot in 2021. In case you’re not a MLS rule geek, let me explain that trade and why it’s hilarious – LAFC was asking for the spot because they were betting that Cincy would still suck two years down the line, thus making the spot valuable.

It was a good bet. In fact, FCC is now rumoured to be looking to send resources to LA to get the spot it should have back so it can make an allocation signing (Pity Martinez).

Early TFC would be proud of such impossible incompetence!

As fun as it is to just spend 500 words poking fun at FCC’s insanity, the purpose of bringing them up today is that they, for once, have made a move of note and it is worth at least considering that it might not be a complete disaster.  

They have signed Brazilian striker Brenner to what will likely be a DP contract. The forward had 17 goals in 33 appearances in Serie A for Sao Paulo.

Ok, you have my attention. It’s not immediately sneer inducing. For FCC, that’s an accomplishment.

That’s not to say that it isn’t without risk, of course. Cincinnati is reported to have paid $13-million for him, which likely includes the Brazilian surcharge that all teams seemingly pay when shopping in that part of the world. Transfermarkt, pegs his value at $9.9m, so FCC has to hope that he can keep pushing that number up, if, as is expected, the plan is to sell him on once more for a profit.

I think we are past the point where every young player from South America is considered a can’t miss star in waiting by MLS fans, but in case you need further convincing allow me to point to the previously mentioned Martinez, who came to MLS as the South American Player of the Year* and had Atlanta United fans claiming that they would be MLS Cup champions forever and ever based on the signing. It didn’t quite work out that way.

*This whole South American Player of the Year thing needs to be put in perspective – the award is politically never given to South Americans playing in Europe, which is, you know, most of the good ones

As it relates to Brenner specifically, a 21-goal return from 2020 seems amazing. But, when you look closely you’ll realize that it was largely based on a single streak when he scored 13 goals in 11 games. He was basically invisible before that stretch.

So, the rest of his time in Brazil is enough to make you underwhelmed (if that’s a word). Take that and factor in that MLS history is littered with players that struggle to adjust to the league’s, um, quirks and you have a high-risk signing.

Cincinnati is hoping that the high-risk will come with a high-reward, but the club’s history so far suggests that we all take a show me, don’t tell me attitude towards the signing.    

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