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Crew might object to MLS team in Cincinnati

By Bob Hunter • Dec 23, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Crew SC investor-operator Anthony Precourt is one of five Major League Soccer owners on the league's expansion committee, which is interesting given that Cincinnati has been pushing hard for a team.

Atlanta United and Minnesota United will join the league next year, and Los Angeles FC will enter in 2018, possibly with a Miami team owned by David Beckham. But not everyone is convinced the Miami bid will come to fruition, which would leave the door open a crack for an early shot by Cincinnati, or one of the two cities -- Sacramento and St. Louis -- believed to be the front-runners for the next two-team expansion shortly after that.

FC Cincinnati broke a United Soccer Leagues single-season attendance mark with 259,437 fans (17,296 per home date) at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati campus last season.

But would Precourt pull the trigger on a Cincinnati bid? The Dispatch asked about the possibility of a Cincinnati MLS team in July, and the first words out of his mouth indicated some reluctance.

"First of all, I'd say that Cincinnati is a great market for Crew SC," he said. "We've got a lot season-ticket holders coming up from Cincinnati for our games. The second thing I'd say is I cheer for club soccer in America. So, the early success they've had is great to see."

But he might not be as magnanimous about putting a rival MLS team in his home territory.

The Cam Akers chase came and went, as far Ohio State's chances were concerned, and in the final analysis it appears both sides lost interest.

"I was trying to tell people he wasn't going to pick Ohio State, even before he came out with the video this week on social media showing six caps that presumably were his finalists" and with an Ohio State cap not among them, Bucknuts analyst Bill Kurelic said.

Though Akers, a five-star running back prospect from Clinton, Mississippi, made an official visit to OSU this fall, his interest in the Buckeyes seemed to wane as LSU and Florida State moved more aggressively into the picture. On top of that, Ohio State coaches seem pleased with standing pat with four-star J.K. Dobbins of La Grange, Texas, as a running back for the 2017 class that, with 17 members currently, is tight on vacancies.

"When Urban Meyer didn't make a visit to see Akers before the dead period for recruiting started and runs through the bowl season, I think that was a major sign that Ohio State had moved on," Kurelic said.

Akers plans to announce his choice Tuesday.

The 2008 Detroit Lions, the only NFL team to have suffered the embarrassment of an 0-16 season, seem to be pulling for the 0-14 Cleveland Browns to avoid that ignominy with a win in one of their final two games.

"I don't want to have anyone have to go through that," former Lions long snapper Don Muhlbach told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "I just remember how rough that was."

Ryan Nece was a linebacker on that beleaguered Lions team, and he remembered trying to give his teammates a pep talk before the final game. He didn't get very far.

"Guys were like, 'Ah, screw this pep talk. Let's just go play,'" Nece said. "It was like, 'Let's go get this over with and either we're going to face the music in that we become 0-16 or we find a way to get a victory and then we never talk about it again.'"

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this week on his radio show on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan that he has talked with the Cincinnati players and that some of them aren't sure about some of the penalty-drawing dirty plays that Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict makes on the field.

"I think they roll their eyes with some of the antics, truthfully," Roethlisberger said.

Burfict threw Roethlisberger to the ground after a Burfict head butt in the second half of the Steelers' 24-20 win over Cincinnati on Sunday and the two exchanged words. The Steelers quarterback said his words weren't what fans might have thought.

"I said, 'Hey, this is a great opportunity for me to tell you exactly what my wife wanted me to tell you if I got a chance," Roethlisberger said. "She wanted me to tell you that she's praying for you.' That's what I told him, no joke."

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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