Simply put, Fanendo Adi’s tenure with FC Cincinnati has been rocky so far.
Last year, FC Cincinnati became the first-ever USL club to bring on a designated player in anticipation of its jump to MLS. An ambitious move, to say the least considering the team had a full cycle of player acquisition opportunities between free agency, expansion draft, and MLS SuperDraft ahead of it.
With the club going so far out of its way to bring him in, fans have yet to be shown exactly why.
In 11 USL appearances, Adi didn’t exactly light America’s second division on fire with his three goals. While there’s certainly something to be said about adjusting to a new team and league, it would be fair to expect better with Adi’s pedigree.
“I haven’t had goals since I’ve been in Cincinnati. I haven’t had a goal since the start of the season, that’s something I really need to work on.” Adi said
So far 2019 has only set the striker back, in terms of goodwill with FC Cincinnati fans.
Coming into the inaugural MLS campaign Adi took on a natural leadership role within the squad. Being one of only nine returning players, and certainly the most prolific of the group comes with higher expectations on the field.
So far Adi’s season has been three goalless games, which saw him pick up an ankle injury that rendered him unable to finish the third. The injury kept Adi out for the next few weeks and his absence was untimely considering the club is learning equally as much about itself, as it is about MLS life week by week.
Then, Adi was cited for speeding and operating a vehicle while impaired, leaving the team down both an attacking option, and veteran voice in the locker room for an undetermined amount of time. The ensuing weeks saw Adi preoccupied with the Major League Soccer Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) Program while simultaneously being medically cleared to play in the meantime.
“A lot has gone on. It’s part of life and to be back on the pitch is very important for me.” Adi said.
Wednesday, MLS reinstated Adi just in time for FC Cincinnati’s extended road trip that will see the expansion side play three games in just eight days.
Fruitful timing for the club with respect to how the season has gone so far.
Looking around the league, FC Cincinnati’s need for attacking options is perhaps the most glaring. However, the team finds itself still within reasonable striking distance of playoff contention through its first eight games. If the team wants to stay afloat in the playoff race, it has to start scoring, as nobody on the team has more than one goal to their name.
While Adi’s absence should have been an opportunity for someone to step up the reality is FC Cincinnati hasn’t mustered up an open play goal in over a month, last coming in Week 3 against New England Revolution.
The stage is set for Fanendo Adi to come in and take back his leadership stock.
A return to form from Adi would see him put the brutal month of March in the rearview, and quickly change the narrative that currently surrounds him.
Having designated player status in and of itself comes with a heightened sense of pressure when you haven’t been performing. While injuries deserve a certain amount of grace, the combination with personal mishap has left FC Cincinnati’s star with a lot to make up for in a hurry. Adi’s opportunity to write his redemption song starts now.
“It’s very, very tough for me. Luckily I have a family, they support me a lot and I have a group of guys in the locker room.” Adi said.
“Alvas [Powell] is a very huge support to me, he calls me and just tries to make sure I’m fine. With the coaches, with the players, it’s been a tough stretch. Missing five games is not what I planned for, but to be back now I’m very excited. I’m happy to be training again to help the team in whatever way I can.”