By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, March 10, 2016
After helping the Rochester Rhinos put together one of the best seasons in the USL’s five-year history last year, defender Patrick McMahon sought out a new challenge this offseason.
He found it in FC Cincinnati, as one of a number of MLS and USL veterans who are hoping to push the side to success in its inaugural season in the league this year.
“Starting a new club, it’s a different experience, and I thought it would be something interesting to get involved in,” McMahon said recently. “With the way the club’s run and all of that, it seemed like it was a good setup."
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The native of Chicago, who will also get the benefit of being a little closer to family and friends in Ohio, was one of the key elements for the Rhinos in 2015. McMahon made 25 regular-season appearances for a defense that set a new record for fewest goals conceded in league history, and then started every game as the Rhinos claimed the league championship.
As the Rhinos embarked on a 19-game undefeated streak to start the season, the club came closer and closer together. The sense of unity the side had proved insurmountable in the playoffs, as Rochester earned its first title since 2001.
“Whenever you’re getting together for preseason, you’re working toward that, but slowly the team became tighter and tighter,” McMahon said. “We were working for each other, and in the beginning that’s what we were pushing for, but as the season went on we had that good start to the season, that long undefeated streak, we starting thinking we’ve got the chance to win both the league and the final.”
Now McMahon and his new teammates are in the process of building chemistry as Cincinnati makes its debut in the USL this spring. Bolstered by a number of MLS and USL veterans, the club is looking to make as big a splash as teams like Sacramento Republic FC, Louisville City FC and OKC Energy FC have over the past two seasons as newcomers to the league.
With players like Austin Berry, Kenney Walker and Sean Okoli to lead the way, and USL veterans like Paul Nicholson and Harrison Delbridge to provide additional USL experience, McMahon believes the amount of veteran leadership in the squad will help the side work its way through should downturns arrive.
“I’ve played against several of the guys in the USL, or even Open Cup, MLS and all that,” McMahon said. “It’s been good. I didn’t know anyone going into it, but we’re slowly growing together as a team, and I think the experience is going help us when we’re starting the season. When there’s ups and downs in the season, the experience will help us pull through it.”
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Under the leadership of Head Coach John Harkes, Cincinnati has already put together impressive results this preseason, claiming the IMG Suncoast Invitational in February thanks in part to a dramatic victory against Major League Soccer’s New York City FC.
So, can McMahon’s new club emulate what his former club was able to a season ago?“You never know,” McMahon said. “That’s what you hope for, so you’ve just got to show up every game and see how it goes.”