Usually, stadium openings bring teams more joy than sorrows, more success than defeats. But in Cincinnati it took a long and painful wait, the first victory came only on the 10th occasion.
FC Cincinnati are a great example of how soccer is reshaping the US. Although relatively new, the team earned quite impressive following already while temporarily playing at Nippert Stadium. During construction of their new home capacity had to be increased, such was the demand. But when TQL Stadium opened in mid-May, not everything fell into place as was expected.
Even the atmosphere generated within the Bailey, northern single-tiered terrace, didn’t help. The momentum was there, the crowds were there and yet results on the field were discouraging at best. First defeat, 2-3 to Inter Miami, may have been a fluke but then came other underwhelming results.
First two games were played in front of a limited audience, first of 6,000 and then of 11,000. But even when the stands were allowed to fill 100%, FC Cincinnati just couldn’t win.
In total, the team managed by Jaap Stam played 9 home games without a single victory, earning far more points on the road. The winless streak at home was accompanied by 12 games without a victory away. And then came last weekend’s FC Toronto clash, finally breaking the curse with a stable 2-0, which resulted in a standing ovation from the crown in Cincinnati’s West End.
Last Saturday’s victory enjoyed a turnout of 22,636 fans. Not bad for a team that haven’t won since moving to their new home in mid-May. Perhaps more impressively, despite the disappointing run, FC Cincy’s following remained faithful throughout.
Only once did the crowd size fall under 22,000, while the average attendance is 23,634 (excluding the two fixtures with restricted capacity), one of the best across MLS. Although the team reported only two sellout crowds, nearly every time they play TQL Stadium is full.