close
close

Reamm Org

MX News Update 2024

bacul43e

Aaron Boupendza’s dark future at FC Cincinnati

Striker Aaron Boupendza transferred from Saudi Pro League side Al-Shabab FC to FC Cincinnati on June 12, 2023. He had 63 goals in 138 professional appearances, had scored five times for the Gabon national team and was regarded as a proven goalscorer with experience in multiple Asian first division competitions.

Boupendza’s arrival was crucial for the club’s present and future. He was a direct replacement for the departed Brenner and secured the eventual departure of Brandon Vazquez, while also cementing a 2023 regular-season steamroller that won the Supporters’ Shield. Boupendza scored five times in ten games last season, with an average of about every 121 minutes.

Boupendza scored for the Bailey on his team debut, scoring the Shield goal in Toronto. And if the ball had bounced slightly off his chest instead of his hand in the Eastern final against Columbus, the Orange and Blue would have been up 3-0 with just over 20 minutes to play against the eventual MLS champions. Instead, Boupendza could leave town before the year, or even summer, is out.

How did we get to this point? First, here are the Boupendza incidents that are widely known or reported by reputable media:

  • Suffered a broken jaw when he was the alleged victim of a late-night altercation at a downtown pizza restaurant.
  • Alleged extortion victim in sex tape scandal.

  • Sent back to the US by the Gabon national team while on international duty in November for failing to show up for a match.
  • Suspended by FC Cincinnati in October due to late return from international duty.

Late arrivals and a few incidents where Boupendza is the alleged victim – these are certainly annoying and concerning for FC Cincinnati’s decision makers, but they would be acceptable if Boupendza had scored goals in 2024 (he hasn’t), and not a of the club’s three prized Designated Player slots (he does), and reportedly didn’t cost ownership $7 million in transfer fees (he did).

The Athletics reported that FCC was “ready to move on” from Boupendza this summer, even before the club announced on May 1 that he would miss six to eight weeks as he recovers from a broken jaw in an “off-field injury.” The 27-year-old was removed from the starting lineup in the past two games he was available for, a pair of wins over Colorado and Atlanta. While Yuya Kubo started in his place, Boupendza only logged 15 minutes from the bench in those matches. In 2024, he has scored two league goals in ten games (five starts) so far, with another goal in the Concacaf Champions Cup tie. He probably won’t see the field again until July.

Enter Kevin Kelsy

Less than a year after Boupendza effectively replaced Brenner, Kevin Kelsy could be do the same with Boupendza. Ironically, Kelsy’s addition became official the same week Boupendza was sidelined indefinitely.

Head coach Pat Noonan has already raved about the 19-year-old’s professionalism, noting that the 6-foot-2 Kelsy has a different striker profile than any other forward on the roster. He is loaned to FCC for the rest of the season, but the club retains a purchase option in the loan agreement with Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk.

Kelsy made his debut against Orlando on Saturday night, and his performance will determine whether General Manager Chris Albright decides to pick up the buyout option, whether Boupendza has played his final minutes in Cincinnati, or whether the two can potentially co-exist as a striker tandem for years to come. come. Boupendza’s contract runs until 2025, with options for 2026 and 2027, but that hasn’t stopped Albright from buying the striker in a bid to both recoup his transfer fee and find a better fit on and off the pitch for the club .

Escape in Orlando

Last weekend in Orlando, the Dutch and Blue team failed to impress with a 1-0 win. The match was decided by the fastest goal in FCC history (17 seconds by Lucho Acosta) and a red card in the 23rd minute by Orlando. Despite playing most of the match with one man down, the hosts were the superior side and lost despite doubling FC Cincinnati in expected goals. I was not impressed. Neither was the head coach.

“When the red card came, we played scared,” Noonan said. “We played afraid of making mistakes, we lost the intensity in going to the ball and making safe passes. I think we were afraid to go to the goal and give them chances to cross. So credit to Orlando, they were the better team despite playing a man.”

FCC’s meh show was magnified by a spectacularly immature performance from Bret Halsey. After coming on for right fullback DeAndre Yedlin in the 55th minute – playing through a sore hip pointer – Halsey picked up a meaningless yellow a minute into his shift, then added a second yellow and was sent off for kicking the ball away in the 78th minute. minute, eliminating the visitors’ man advantage.

I’m curious to see how FC Cincinnati responds on Saturday evening in Columbus in the first Hell Is Real derby of 2024. The Crew are doing well after a definitive 3-1 victory in Monterrey last week took them to the final of the Concacaf Champions Cup. Columbus has the mentality advantage, not only because of the last meeting between the two teams, but also because FCC has not scored in Columbus since August 27, 2021. The hosts will also operate on 10 rest days.

Grant Freking writes FC Cincinnati coverage for Cincinnati Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.