When I was a kid, I really wanted one of those K’nex roller coaster sets, but Christmas was far away and my parents were most definitely not going to run out and just buy me one. So I enjoyed what I had. I broke out a ton of Lego’s and started building supports on the table. I used toothpicks to create the coaster rails. In the end, it didn’t at all work like the K’nex one on television, but I was damn proud of my Lego creation and left it set up for months. I never even got the K’nex set, didn't really think about it again once I started pouring out the plastic bricks.
These days, I’ve got the same attitude about a lot of things. I love visiting Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. At one time, I deeply envied a lot of what those cities have. Why couldn’t Cincinnati be that way? Why did we screw ‘this’ up back in the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries? Then I learned to just fully embrace the Queen City and appreciate it for its own unique attributes, to learn its history, to be positive for the future and work towards what it can truly become. I can think of a number of stories where our city/region/area has misstepped and espouse several examples. I’ve poured over the stories of the Stingers and their failure to get into the NHL, I’ve stood in the abandoned subway tunnels, and I’ve walked through the forgotten parts of a once booming airport. While I’ve learned from history, I’ve also learned to not overlook what we do have and during these early days of FC Cincinnati, I think it’s a lesson we can all keep in mind.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be some holier-than-thou, skull bandana wearing evangelist who is telling you the proper way to support. I won’t hide it: I WANT to see FC Cincinnati in Major League Soccer, playing at this nation’s highest level. I do think there’s a good chance of that happening and I enjoyed the day when Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber came to visit. I sang the chants, took the day off to hang out with Die Innenstadt friends, marched from the bar, went to the Woodward when he spoke, etc. I certainly felt it was important that we made a strong impression that reflected the massive amount of support this team has. I feel we made our case, but something struck me and it was more realized as I spoke with fellow DI Members in the ensuing days. The potential for FC Cincinnati to join MLS, to bring the city of Cincinnati a third top-tier sports franchise, and to keep raising the profile of this city and its people is all incredibly exciting. I can definitely see it on the horizon. At the same time though, we must truly appreciate what we do have. Whether our club is vying for MLS or just trying to make it in USL, they deserve the strongest possible support we can bring. I hope the Commissioner was impressed, but more so, I want to see even more people on the march through Uptown, picking up a paintbrush at tifo nights in Brighton, and at Rhinehaus in OTR during away matches. I want to hear more unique chants develop, for support to continue growing throughout the city and region. All that can happen whether we’re tapped for MLS or not.
While I’m keeping an eye on the news, what I most look forward to is warmer weather and enjoying the biergarten with some of the best people I know in the heart of our fair city. I’m looking forward to marching, to matches, to continuing the Dirty River Derby, to getting revenge on Charleston, and to watching this club play a competitive and successful season. One day, I’d love to see John Harkes hoist the MLS Cup in the air under a Losantiville sky. For now though, I’m content to watch him and the ‘Boys in Blurange’ hunt for the USL cup.
What we have in USL is incredible. Let’s not forget that and never take it for granted. Look to the future, but appreciate what you have. Not to get overly cliche, but as the song states: where this team goes, “we’ll follow.” In the meantime though, first and foremost: “we support the ‘Nati.”