CINCINNATI – Cincinnati FC defender Nick Hagglund can’t wait for the season opener to take place on May 16.
Former soccer players from Xavier University and Lakota West High School know that the official opening of the TQL Stadium is eagerly awaited.
“This is one of the best stadiums in MLS,” said Hagglund. “And it’s crazy for me to be in Cincinnati. Growing up I never thought I’d see a football-specific stadium in the heart of downtown.”
A native of West Chester Township, Hagglund recalls going to Columbus Crew games as a teenager.
In his third season at Cincinnati FC, Hagglund is grateful to play in front of family and friends.
“For me it was just watching this club’s journey grow over the past five years, and for me, being in MLS and setting the stars that way, for me, being part of it, seeing it, To play in it is a dream come true, “said Hagglund.
Hagglund said the team is ready to make the transition from Nippert Stadium to their new home. Cincinnati FC has a scheduled intrasquad fight at TQL Stadium today.
“There were a lot of great memories at Nippert,” said Hagglund. “But Nippert is a college football stadium. To make this football specific in downtown Cincinnati with the amazing lights, it’s all put together – the field is grass, it’s not the lawn at Nippert. We’re very excited to name this house. ” and go to battle in this field. “
Hagglund said for most players, what happens between the lines on a soccer field is consistent in every location.
However, entering the stadium – especially with fans – will be a welcome element after the emptiness of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have your fans behind you no matter what is going on,” said Hagglund. “When we’re on our way to the goal, you can hear the rumble. When you do a big piece, you can hear the fans cheering. That gets you going. That makes you excited.”
Lakota West coach Rick Cooper knows how much Hagglund enjoyed playing professionally in Cincinnati.
“He’s an example of what you want your child to grow up and be that child,” Cooper said. “He works hard at everything he does. He takes everything very seriously. He loves fun, he has a great personality.”
Doug Cochran / Xavier University Athletics
Former Xavier University standout Nick Hagglund is in his third season with FC Cincinnati. He is looking forward to playing in front of family and friends at TQL Stadium on May 16th.
Hagglund was able to return to Lakota West and connect with younger players who have watched his career.
“It’s an amazing thing to get a chance and play in front of the home crowd and things like that,” said Cooper. “Like I said, I can’t stress enough what a great person he is – things that he gave back to the building, to our team. He’s a great ambassador for FCC, for MLS, for football in general.”
Hagglund signed a one-year deal with Cincinnati FC in December.
Although the club had a difficult start to the season with a 2-1 record, Hagglund is optimistic that the situation will change.
“I feel that the energy and positive attitude is still in the group and we are ready to fight. We look forward to getting home and standing in front of our fans and looking forward to being at the new stadium to open, “said Hagglund. “You only get your first game in the stadium once so we’re excited and ready to go and get started.”
FC Cincinnati will play Inter Miami CF on May 16 at 4pm. This is the first of two home games this month. Cincinnati FC returns home on May 29 against the New England Revolution.