The moves give Cincinnati 18 players on its roster for the 2019 season, more than six returning MLS teams have under contract for next season. It already re-signed or obtained the rights to 12 players who played on its 2018 USL regular-season championship team.
Tuesday's moves began with the selection of five players in the Expansion Draft. D.C. United forward Darren Mattocks was taken with the top pick. Also selected: Kei Kamara (Vancouver), Roland Lamah (FC Dallas), Eric Alexander (Houston Dynamo) and Hassan Ndam (New York Red Bulls). Kamara was subsequently traded to Colorado for a 2019 international roster spot.
FC Cincinnati then shelled out at least $1.2 million in allocation money to acquire the 30-year-old Waston, who played for Costa Rica in the 2018 World Cup, and 27-year-old Garza, who joined Atlanta United in 2017 after spending the previous six seasons in Mexico.
FC Cincinnati paid Atlanta United $250,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and $200,000 in General Allocation Money for Garza, then shelled out $450,000 of GAM, $300,000 of TAM, and a 2019 international roster spot for Waston. Additionally, Vancouver will receive an additional $75,000 in GAM if Waston reaches certain performance-based incentives with FC Cincinnati.
With 10 caps, Garza is the first U.S. international Cincinnati has acquired. Injuries limited him to 37 appearances in two seasons, but he started all five of Atlanta’s 2018 MLS Cup playoffs matches.
“We are thrilled to add someone with Greg’s soccer pedigree to our backline for next season,” FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch said. “He has played at the highest level of soccer in the United States and Mexico and has been a key component of his team at every stop. We look forward to what Greg will bring to our group on and off the pitch next season.”
Waston was named Vancouver captain in 2017 but expressed a desire to leave the 'Caps after the 2018 season. He made 115 appearances and scored 14 goals over five MLS seasons.
“Kendall has been one of the best players in MLS since he arrived in this league,” Koch said. “He will be a cornerstone of our club and we couldn’t be happier to have him join our group for our first MLS season.”
2019 Roster (18):
Goalkeepers (1): Spencer Richey (Vancouver).
Defender (7): Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Justin Hoyte, Pa Konate (on loan from SPAL/ITA), Forrest Lasso, Hassan Ndam (NY Red Bulls), Blake Smith, Kendall Waston (Vancouver)
Midfielders (7): Fatai Alashe, Nazmi Albadawi, Eric Alexander (Houston), Corben Bone, Roland Lamah (FC Dallas), Emmanuel Ledesma, Jimmy McLaughlin
Forwards (3): Fanendo Adi, Darren Mattocks (D.C. United), Emery Welshman.