Frankie Amaya, who was selected first overall by expansion side FC Cincinnati in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft made his league debut on Saturday as FCC fell 2-0 to the Philadelphia Union.
Ahead of the season, league veteran Fanendo Adi told SBI “He has the qualities of a grown man.”
In training, the 18-year-old UCLA product has since seen his stock rise in a midfield crowded with talent. He has also been a regular fixture in the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team squad of late, earning his fourth cap last week.
“Frankie’s coming, right attitude, right mentality since day one. We wanted to give him the opportunity, we had to find the opportunity, not just for him but for every player.” Head coach Alan Koch said.
“He’s been working incredibly hard in training. He’s a quality player, you can see his quality of moments. I think he went a did a good job of helping us possess the ball and trying to maintain and secure possession. But obviously, a difficult moment for a young kid to go in and play his first professional game but we’re happy with how he went in and I’m sure he’ll learn from this and he’ll grow and continue to push.”
Amaya stepped into a less than the picturesque environment at Nippert Stadium. It was cold, windy, and the rain didn’t let up for even a moment during the match. Too, it was the 76th minute and his team was well beaten.
However, Amaya is grateful for the opportunity.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. It was a moment I dreamed of as a kid, and when he called me up and said I’m going in,” Amaya said. “It was just a shocker, I couldn’t thank him enough.”
“It’s always difficult losing, I hate losing no matter if I’m on the roster, if I’m on the bench, if I go in, I hate losing. So, it was a difficult loss.”
While Amaya wasn’t necessarily put in a situation to shine, the appearance is a vote of confidence from Koch.
In the midfield, Kenny Saief, Caleb Stanko, Corben Bone, and Eric Alexander are all competing for minutes, while USL carryover players Fatai Alashe and Nazmi Albadawi have yet to feature in the 2019 campaign.
Given that the appearance came early in the season, the Amaya era may be upon us as FC Cincinnati will certainly be looking to make the most of its first-ever draft pick.