FC Cincinnati is about a month away from taking the pitch for its first regular-season contest in Major League Soccer.
But the new kids on the block are still building their roster.
Last week, Cincinnati added a pair of players that should bolster its defense. The club acquired Caleb Stanko, a defensive midfielder, via transfer from Bundesliga side SC Freiburg, and also completed a trade with Toronto FC for centerback Nick Hagglund.
For Hagglund, Toronto received $300,000 in allocation funds and the top spot in the league’s allocation order. The 26-year-old played his college soccer at Xavier University and he is the first Cincinnati native to join the roster of the expansion side.
“Cincinnati sports fans are the best. When I saw a team come, I knew something would happen eventually,” Hagglund told the club’s website. “I felt like when (MLS expansion) happened, I wanted to be here. To have an opportunity to be here from the beginning and be a part of the growth of this team in the coming years… It’s an incredible situation.”
Hagglund was drafted 10th overall by Toronto in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He went on to appear in 115 games for the club, tallying six goals and six assists while starring mostly at centerback, but occasionally playing right back. In the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, Hagglund netted a goal in the 68th minute of the second leg, helping Toronto reach the MLS Cup. They fell that year to the Seattle Sounders, but won the whole thing in 2017. Hagglund played four minutes in the 2017 final.
“I’m going to be reliable and you can depend on me in the back,” Hagglund said. “I’m an aerial threat and I’m going to work my butt off.”
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) January 26, 2019
While Hagglund is familiar with the lay of the land in MLS, this season will be the first time that Stanko — a Michigan native — has played in the league.
Stanko, 25, moved to Germany in 2011 to join the youth academy of SC Freiburg, a Bundesliga club.
Over eight seasons, Stanko featured for Freiburg’s first team, second team and U-19 side. He was also loaned to FC Vaduz, a Swiss club, for a pair of seasons. In all, he’s played in 141 games as a professional, tallying three goals and 10 assists.
“We are happy to add Caleb to our roster,” Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch said in a club statement. “We look for versatility in our central midfielders and we feel he can fill a number of roles depending on the personnel we have on the pitch. We look forward to Caleb competing immediately within our group.”
Stanko also has one cap with the U.S. men’s national team, playing in a World Cup Qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago on Sept. 7, 2016. He also captained the U.S. U-20 team in Concacaf and World Cup play in 2013.
FC Cincinnati now has 26 players on its roster. The club is currently training in Bradenton, Fla., and will face the Montreal Impact in a preseason match there Wednesday.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) January 23, 2019