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A team including two ex-League of Ireland stars has been added to MLS for 2019

FC Cincinnati will join the top tier of US soccer, which could have an impact on Paddy Barrett and Richie Ryan.

FC CINCINNATI WILL join Major League Soccer in 2019 after being granted an expansion franchise.

The club which currently competes in the United Soccer League – generally regarded as the USA’s second tier of football — will begin playing at the highest level next season ahead of the planned opening of a new 21,000-capacity stadium in 2021.

x66r867l Paddy Barrett and Richie Ryan. Source: Getty Images

The development could have an impact on two Irishmen who are currently in Cincinnati’s squad. Waterford native Paddy Barrett joined Cincinnati last November, while Tipperary’s Richie Ryan followed his compatriot to Ohio in February.

Barrett won the FAI Cup and two Premier Division titles with Dundalk. The 24-year-old defender also featured in the Lilywhites’ memorable European run of 2016. Ryan was the PFAI Player of the Year in 2010. The former Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers midfielder has been plying his trade in North America for the past five seasons.

Both players have featured prominently for Cincinnati in the current USL campaign, but with the club likely to invest significantly in strengthening their squad to prepare for the step-up, it remains to be seen if Barrett and Ryan will be part of their MLS squad in 2019.

In their three-year existence, FC Cincinnati have attracted larger attendances than many MLS sides. Those numbers are at an all-time high so far in 2018, with an average of 24,417 spectators watching home games at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. That number is more than double the next-best average in the USL and would rank fifth among the 23 MLS teams this year.

“Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” Commissioner Don Garber said. “The rise of Cincinnati as a passionate soccer market in recent years, coinciding with the city’s growing economy and reputation as a top destination for young professionals, makes it an ideal city for our growing league.

“We congratulate Carl Lindner and his partners, and also the soccer fans of Cincinnati, who have passionately supported FC Cincinnati in the USL.”

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Paul Dollery

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