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Fresh start: Ex-UB star Russell Cicerone joins FC Cincinnati

After one season with Portland Timbers 2 in the United Soccer League, former University at Buffalo star Russell Cicerone has signed his second professional deal - this one with FC Cincinnati, a club that competed in the same second-tier league in 2017.

“Russell is an incredibly talented young player,” said FCC head coach Alan Koch in a team release Tuesday. “He has the ability to score goals as he showed in college. He had a tough introduction to professional soccer this season but I believe that this experience has set him up for future success. We look forward to working with him and helping him maximize his abilities at the pro level.”

Taken in the fourth round of Major League Soccer's 2016 SuperDraft after four years at UB, Cicerone competed in 29 matches for T2, starting 17. He tallied just one goal during the USL campaign, although he did make his debut with the first team in the U.S. Open Cup against the Seattle Sounders, playing 31 minutes and suffering one foul.

FC Cincinnati is working feverishly to refine its bid to be selected as a Major League Soccer expansion side. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the club has until the first week of December to finalize its stadium plans, for which a public investment is still being voted on by the Cincinnati City Council. MLS is expected to announce its expansion sides on Dec. 14.

FCC qualified for the 2017 USL postseason before losing, 3-0, to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Cicerone's Timbers 2 missed the postseason by a wide margin, compiling a league-worst 3-23-6 record.

The former Bull will now be close to his college coach, Stu Riddle, who's at the helm of Northern Kentucky University, just eight miles away from FC Cincinnati's home facility.

How hockey-crazed Michigan built Russell Cicerone into a likely soccer pro


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