CINCINNATI -- Dozens of players hoping to join the FC Cincinnati roster are trying out Sunday at the University of Cincinnati.
About 80 players will face off in a series of six-on-six competitions at Sheakley Athletics Center for head coach John Harkes and assistant coaches Jamie Starr and Nate Kish.
Harkes said he was excited about the prospect of adding some local faces to the team.
"It is pretty unique for them to have this opportunity to say, 'Maybe one day I could sign a contract and be a professional player in soccer.' I mean, you see it in 'Hard Knocks,' you see it with football, you see it with baseball -- it may not be as open, but that's what we built our club on," Harkes said.
Good luck to all the guys participating in our @fccincinnati tryouts today at UC. Thanks for your interest in FCC & your passion for soccer!
— Jeff Berding (@JeffBerding) December 18, 2016
Top-performing players will get callbacks in early January and could be on the team as soon as next season.
As they recruit in new talent, Harkes and his staff also will keep familiar names from the club's inaugural season. Among the returning players are USL Goalkeeper of the Year Mitch Hildebrandt, defenders Austin Berry, Harrison Delbridge, Derek Luke, Pat McMahon and Tyler Polak, midfielders Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin, Omar Mohamed, Francisco Narbon, Paul Nicholson and Kenney Walker, and forwards Omar Cummings, Antoine Hoppenot, Casey Townsend and Andrew Wiedeman.
However, forward and league MVP Sean Okoli announced earlier this month he wouldn't be returning in 2017.
FC Cincinnati has hopes of moving from the United Soccer League into the more prestigious Major League Soccer -- but news last week made it clear the club has plenty of work ahead of it. A total of 10 cities will be vying for four remaining MLS expansion spots, which will be determined by an application process due Jan. 31, 2017. The first two teams will be announced by the third quarter of next year.