July 30, 2018 / 11:14 PM / 2 months ago

First two MLS players join FC Cincinnati

Looking ahead to their move to Major League Soccer next year, FC Cincinnati added their first two MLS players on Monday.

Cincinnati picked up forward Fanendo Adi from the Portland Timbers and midfielder Fatai Alashe from the San Jose Earthquakes in separate cash deals.

The Timbers received $450,000 in general allocation money (GAM) and $400,000 in targeted allocation money (TAM) for Adi. The Earthquakes got $60,000 in TAM and $75,000 in GAM for Alashe.

Allocation money assists teams while working with the MLS salary cap.

According to the Oregonian newspaper, Portland could get an additional $100,000 in TAM depending upon Adi’s results next year. The Timbers also would receive a portion of the proceeds should Cincinnati sell Adi internationally within the next 24 months.

According to FC Cincinnati, Alashe will play for the franchise’s United Soccer League club for the remainder of this season before the club jumps levels next season. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Adi also will join the ULS squad, though FCC identified Adi as its “first MLS-designated player” without referencing his status in the USL.

“Sometimes opportunities just kind of fall on your doorstep but you’re prepared for it,” FC Cincinnati technical director Luke Sassano said Monday at a press conference. “I think in both situations with Fatai and Fanendo, we were really in a position to capitalize on those opportunities.”

Adi, a 27-year-old Nigeria native, was in his fifth season in Portland. In 126 games (102 starts) for the Timbers, he produced 54 goals and 14 assists. However, he had only three goals and two assists in 14 games (nine starts) this season. Adi scored a goal against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday after coming on as a sub.

“It’s very exciting to be here (in Cincinnati),” Adi said. “It’s going to be a test for us, but we are all ready for it. ... I had a lot of tears on the plane ride because luckily we had WiFi and I was looking at my Twitter and I saw lots of write-ups and videos, and I shed a lot of tears. It’s very emotional.

“Of course, it will take me maybe a few weeks to get over the whole thing with Portland because Portland is part of my family now. I’ve been there four years, and I left a legacy there to start something new. It’s beautiful but some beautiful things have to come to an end and I’m ready for this next chapter.”

FCC president general manager Jeff Berding said of Adi, “He’s a tremendously talented player who is also a standout citizen in the community. The fact that he has agreed to join us is a clear demonstration of his passion for leadership and winning. He will immediately begin to create his new legacy with another very special fan base.”

Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said in a statement, “Fanendo Adi has been a tremendous player for this club for the past five years, and I have enjoyed coaching him and getting to know him as a person since my arrival. This is a great opportunity for him within the league, and on behalf of the entire coaching staff, I wish him continued success in the future.”

Alashe, a 24-year-old Michigan native, joined the Earthquakes in 2015. He made 85 appearances (69 starts) for San Jose, compiling five goals and three assists. Alashe had no goals or assists in 12 games (two starts) in 2018.

Alashe technically will be on loan to FC Cincinnati for the remainder of the year before his transfer becomes permanent.

“For me, it’s just a good opportunity to start something new and be part of something special going on in this city,” Alashe said. “I could see it Day 1 when I got here. ... (For FC Cincinnati) to bring us in here to be one of the first pieces is really humbling.”

—Field Level Media

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