A sold-out crowd of more than 32,000 people cheered, chanted and sang as FC Cincinnati took the field at home for the first time in Major League Soccer Sunday night. The final score was 3-nil to the home team.
Fans in the supporters section, known as "The Bailey," unveiled an oversized banner celebrating the milestone - a lion painted in a style honoring local artist Charley Harper.
"It's an exciting time for FC Cincinnati, joining the MLS," says Nancy Riehle, who drove down from Clarksville with her family for the home opener. Her children play soccer and she's on a local soccer board. "It's just exciting to come and watch them."
Krista Brown of Cincinnati and her family bought season tickets. "We probably came to 10 games last year and my daughter plays soccer so we just like to come, and it's pretty inexpensive for a family."
Wearing the captain's armband, defender Kendall Waston scored the first FC Cincinnati Major League Soccer home goal in the 15th minute to put the home side ahead 1-nil.
At halftime, MLS Commissioner Don Garber complimented the atmosphere and says he's spoken with the ownership team about proceeding strategically to keep the team on a successful trajectory, even if times aren't always as happy as they are currently.
He adds the quick success of Cincinnati in moving from an idea to an MLS team helped convinced him soccer can be successful in any market. Garber admits he underestimated Cincinnati at first.
"I am 100 percent sure that there isn't a market that MLS wouldn't succeed in if we had the right owner and the right stadium plan," Garber says. "[Cincinnati] was a good part of that."
After the 3-nil win, head coach Alan Koch was asked if he expected such dominance. "No," he said in a word.
"I'm glad we could reward the city and our fans - in a game that was very, very special to this community - with a great performance and obviously a huge three points," Koch says. "Our fans are the reason why we are where we are today and I'm glad we could give them that sort of performance."
FC Cincinnati is away at New England March 24 and returns to Nippert March 30 against the Philadelphia Union.