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Maikel Van der Werff signing announced by FC Cincinnati

Dutch defender Maikel Van der Werff was announced as the first signing of the Gereard Nijkamp era at FC Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati announced the acquisition of Dutch center back Maikel van der Werff on Tuesday, who became the club’s first signing of the Secondary Transfer Window.

Van der Werff, 30, joins FC Cincinnati after spending the last four seasons with Dutch first division side Vitesse. Prior to that, he spent two-and-a-half years with PEC Zwolle and was signed by FC Cincinnati’s newly-appointed general manager Gerard Nijkamp during his spell as the club’s technical director. 

“We are pleased to be able to add a quality player and we’d like to welcome Maikel to FC Cincinnati,” Nijkamp said in a club statement. “He brings a high level of experience and leadership to our backline and will be an excellent addition as we solidify our style of play. We look forward to integrating Maikel with our current group and eagerly anticipate his future as an FC Cincinnati player.”

Van der Werff was spotted taking in the action during FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 loss to LA Galaxy on June 22. And the experience left an impression on the player.

“I’m very happy and proud with this move to FC Cincinnati,” van der Werff said. “I was able to visit for the match against the LA Galaxy and the atmosphere was great. I’m looking forward to playing and being part of this team.”

The Dutchman’s arrival in Cincinnati is timely. It comes on the heels of a six-match losing streak in MLS play in which the defense has allowed 22 goals. FCC have also conceded an eye-popping 42 goals in total this season, good for worst in the league. That defensive record has played a role in seeing Cincinnati (3-13-2) slump to the bottom of the Eastern Conference table. 

Unfortunately, FC Cincinnati’s new defender won’t be ready to shore up that leaky defense before Saturday’s match against the Houston Dynamo. Until the club receives Van der Werff’s P1-Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC), he can’t be added to the active roster. Those won’t be available until the Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 9. His first match eligible for selection would be on July 13 when FCC visit the Chicago Fire.

The veteran defender’s arrival likely means a shuffle in FC Cincinnati’s backline. It’s also a curious move seeing that FCC’s most pressing defensive need is at left back, and they already had five players capable of playing center back on the books. Regardless, club captain Kendall Waston’s return from international duty means four players — Nick Hagglund, Forrest Lasso, Justin Hoyte, and now Van der Werff — will compete for the lone remaining spot in central defense. That’s not to mention Hassan Ndam, who remains on loan in Charlotte. But with Hoyte should now reassume outside back duties, Hagglund and Lasso seem the players most likely to see their playing time impacted by Van der Werff’s arrival.

Given that Van der Werff holds a Dutch passport, he will occupy Cincinnati’s sole remaining international roster spot. Should the club have any more business to do this summer, it will have to either come in the form of domestic talent or by acquiring additional international spots via trade.

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