CINCINNATI -- Aodhan Quinn came to know The Bailey as a bit of a nuisance last year when his Louisville City club came to Nippert Stadium for a pair of matches against FC Cincinnati.
All he wanted to do was make those rowdy fans be quiet.
It’s likely that way for any opposing player that steps onto FC Cincinnati’s pitch, Quinn said this week, but perhaps it was even worse when a rival team came to town.
Quinn, a 25-year-old midfielder, is glad The Bailey is on his side now, as he and FC Cincinnati prepares to host his old club this weekend. FCC (2-2-1) and United Soccer League Eastern Conference leader Louisville City (3-0-1) meet in a River Cities Cup rivalry match at 7 p.m. Saturday at Nippert.
“As an opposing player, it's fun and exciting because you want to show up and play well and you want to silence the crowd, so you know if they are not being loud, you are doing something right,” Quinn said. “But when the crowd is behind FC Cincinnati, it becomes a hostile environment. As an opposing player, you just want to shut them up, but being on their side, it really helps to have them. It’s awesome having them on your side.”
Quinn is one of two former Louisville City players now on FC Cincinnati’s roster.
Outside winger Kadeem Dacres, who signed with FCC in December, also was looking forward to a chance to face his old teammates when asked about the opportunity earlier this week. However, a red card issued to him in the 75th minute of Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw against Tampa Bay makes him unavailable Saturday.
Dacres shares Quinn’s feelings about now being with FC Cincinnati and having the support of the league’s largest fan base.
“It's funny because last year being against the club, it was definitely different,” Dacres said. “After that game, a couple of fans were tweeting and stuff like that about my performance against them, and they weren't really harassing me and stuff like that. So that was a pretty cool thing to take away from the times we played against them last year. As far as this year is concerned, they are just happy I'm on this side now and so am I, so it's definitely a cool thing.
“As a kid, you dream about playing in these types of environments, so to be able to call this place home now is truly incredible.”
Dacres and Quinn noticed from afar what was happening in Cincinnati last year, so when their contracts ended and FC Cincinnati became an option, it was an easy decision for each of them.
“We saw how many fans they were getting, and everything that was happening to the club,” said Quinn, who played at the University of Akron in 2011-13 as a teammate of FC Cincinnati midfielder Eric Stevenson. “I talked to Eric a lot last year, and he said how great the club was and how much fun they were having, so I had a lot to look forward to when I found out I was coming here.”
Quinn said former FCC coach John Harkes tried recruiting him prior to the 2016 season, but at the time he wanted to remain in Louisville for a second season. He and Dacres were on the club’s original roster in 2015 and helped Louisville to the Eastern Conference finals each of the past two seasons.
However, when Quinn’s Major League Soccer aspirations seemed to be going nowhere with Louisville, FC Cincinnati suddenly became more attractive with its own MLS goals and a stunning inaugural season drawing all kinds of attention.
The Philadelphia Union selected Quinn in the third round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but did not sign him to a contract. He instead spent his first professional season helping Orlando City to a title before being released in 2015 as part of the team’s transition from the United Soccer League to MLS.
Quinn played 49 games in two seasons with Louisville, recording three goals and three assists last year and finishing with two goals and one assist in 2015 -- one of those goals earning “USL Goal of the Year” recognition.
“With FC Cincinnati trying to get to MLS, that's a good transition so obviously that would be good, but the style of play, the recognition, everything, I think this was the time to come here,” Quinn said.
Dacres, who played collegiately at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, was less specific about his reasons for coming to Cincinnati, simply saying “it was a better fit.”
He, too, was taken in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft -- 65th overall by the Chicago Fire -- but also wasn’t signed. Dacres landed with USL side Arizona United before spending the 2015 and 2016 seasons with Louisville, where he appeared in 49 games and scored nine goals with five assists.
The speedy forward notched three goals and three assists last year but could be more effective this season with the luxury of the widened pitch at Nippert. He was perhaps limited in what he could do out wide the past two years while playing on a narrow baseball field at the home of the Triple-A Louisville Bats.
“I felt like this was a good fit and a new challenge for me, so that's why I made my way here,” Dacres said.
FCC coach Alan Koch is glad to have both Dacres and Quinn on the team.
The two newcomers have fit in well so far. Quinn started the first four games before sitting out Wednesday, and Dacres has started the past four games after serving as a reserve in the season opener at Charleston.
“Both of them have been great additions to our club,” Koch said in the preseason. “They both bring a lot of skill and experience in this league, especially coming from a club that did so well the past two years. They fit in well with what we hope to accomplish, and we’re excited to have them part of the group.”
While the transition for both players went smoothly, it was still difficult to leave Louisville, where they had developed close relationships with their teammates and coach James O’Connor.
They both said they look forward to seeing their old team across the pitch this season, and they still wish them well -- until the games begin. This time, they want the fans in The Bailey making all kinds of noise.
“I still talk to some of the guys probably every week,” Quinn said. “It will be fun to face them, it will be exciting. It will be a good buildup to the game, but once we're on the field, it will be just about winning the game.”