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Alec Kann Has Found a Home in Cincinnati

June 19, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

Goalkeeper Alec Kann has been all-in since arriving at FC Cincinnati three years ago and is excited about the opportunity to continue contributing to the club's success, both now and in years to come.

The club announced Wednesday morning that Kann, 33, has signed a one-year contract extension, keeping him with The Orange and Blue through the 2025 season. A move that Kann desired in the hopes of seeing his career continue, both on the field and in Cincinnati.

"I've been fortunate to be part of helping this club get to where it is today," Kann said in a press release announcing the extension. "At this stage of my career, the age I'm at, with what's going on with my family, for me it's a no-brainer. With the coaching staff, the players and the comfort level that I have in this building, there's no other place I'd want to be and this is where I see myself long term."

"We're excited to have Alec in Cincinnati for another year," said Chris Albright, FC Cincinnati General Manager. "He's an important part of our goalkeeper group and he helps elevate his teammates around him every day. Alec is an invaluable character within our club and we look forward to his continued success with FC Cincinnati."

When Alec first came to FCC, it was under different circumstances and pretexts than the ones he finds himself in when signing his second deal with the club. A journeyman keeper, the travels and trials of a pro have taken him all over the country. Starting his career with USL side Charleston Battery before signing with Chicago Fire, he was loaned out to Charlotte Eagles and Saint Louis FC (both in the USL). He then joined Sporting KC before finding his longest-term home in his home state of Georgia, where he was selected in the expansion draft to the newly minted MLS club Atlanta United.

Kann spent four years in Atlanta before venturing to FC Cincinnati. The 6'4" keeper found a home in the Queen City and was projected to be the starter for FCC.

History tells us what happened next is a tale of unfortunate and unlucky timing for Kann. An injury left him unavailable, and Roman Celentano took over the job of starter. He has rarely relinquished the position, to the detriment of Kann's opportunity.

A classic Wally Pipp story. An unfortunate circumstance in a grueling industry.

However, the unexpected role has not deterred Kann from being who he is and continuing his commitment to the club. He has been as vital a leader and role model for the organization as there can be. From first-team players to Academy members and everything in between, Alec sets the tone for what it means to be a member of the club and community.

The stories are vast about the kindness that Kann has showed to help guide the club. When a new player joins the squad, it is as likely as the sun rising and the sky being blue that one of, if not the first, players to reach out and introduce himself to welcome that player to the group will be Alec Kann.

For example, when Stefan Chirilia, the newest member of the FC Cincinnati Academy to sign a first-team deal (which will begin in 2025), learned he would be training with the first team for the first time, Kann reached out to the 17-year-old to invite him to breakfast and introduce him to everyone. "Just to make sure I was comfortable," Chirila said.

Kann was also named the club's 2023 Procter & Gamble Humanitarian of the Year. Awarded to a person excelling in work off the field in the Greater Cincinnati area, particularly thanks to his regular visits with the Boys & Girls Club of Ohio and the work he has done with that organization.

Serendipitously, the goalkeeper room often lovingly refers to Alec as the "older brother" of the keepers. As the group's senior member, he sets the tone on and off the field. The first-team goalkeeper room, additionally consisting of the aforementioned Celentano, Evan Louro and Paul Walters are active members of the community and follow in the footsteps of their 'older brother.' Celentano and Louro recently, for example, attended a Cleat Drive Telethon to help raise money and shoe donations for youth needing assistance to play soccer. An effort to be in the community that they have cited Kann for inspiring them to pursue.

At the time of his signing this contract extension, Alec finds himself at a difficult place in his career. Not one that he finds difficult, to be clear, but one that may be hard for outsiders to quantify or fully understand. At 33 years old, Kann is, by self-admission in an exclusive interview with, at the end of his career as a professional player.

He is not ending his professional career, to be clear, not right now, at least. This contract extension gives FC Cincinnati important stability on the back line that has paid dividends for the team already this season and played an important role in the success the team had last season.

When Celentano was injured in a match with Charlotte FC, Kann stepped in and provided an important performance, helping the club earn wins over Atlanta United and Colorado Rapids. In 2023, Kann started all nine of FCC's season cup competition matches and played a key role in getting the club to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup and the knockout stages of Leagues Cup.

Many theorized and publicly hypothesized while Kann was making starts in Celentano's absence this season that FCC has, effectively, at least two starting caliber goalkeepers in the organization at present and that having a player waiting in the wings like Kann is a real luxury that many clubs in this league just don't have.

Thus, the complicating factor from the outside. Now, seeing the end of his playing career on the horizon while still being a very talented and extremely capable player in this league, he is starting to plot his life beyond playing soccer.

Kann's desires are clear, though, and he signals as such with his words and actions. If he can help it, his post-playing career will come in Cincinnati, a city and a club that has wrapped their arms around him and made him feel like he has a place to call home.

"This is where I see myself long term," Kann said in a sitdown. "When I moved here from Atlanta, and I said it in my first interview, that I was all in for this club, and that's kind of how I've been ever since and the club and this city has reciprocated on that at every turn."

"The results, obviously, have helped a lot to build the excitement around the team and the connection between our organization and the city. But for me, I think the thing that kind of separates this club from others is the coaching staff. I think that what we have here is as player-friendly of a coaching staff as you can find in this league and you don't really know how good you have it until it's gone."

"I've been in situations at other clubs where it's not as stable as it is here, and for me that goes such a long way. Having that continuity, having direct lines of communication with the coaches and kind of knowing where you stand. Day to day, week to week. That stuff is super important to me."

Kann has been an instrumental part of a goalkeeper room that has seen tremendous stability since his arrival, a fact of life he mentions is an unusual reality in MLS. Typically, when success or failure comes, change comes knocking for someone. And while the rest of the roster has seen tremendous change, and change that Kann has been instrumental in smoothing over (more on that later), the goalkeepers, along with Director of Goalkeeping Paul Rogers, have remained a tight-knit unit and have grown together as such.

That stability, in the goalkeeping room and with the coaching staff at large, has remained since his arrival and has been a key contributor to making FC Cincinnati a home. His relationship with FC Cincinnati Head Coach Pat Noonan, while admittedly evolving from when he first arrived, is a microcosm of what makes the culture appealing to Kann while also modeling what could be life's next profession.

"I came here in 2022 with aspirations of being a long-term starter here and that hasn't necessarily played out exactly the way that me and the club had probably drawn it up originally. But Pat (Noonan) has been super open and the way that he's communicated with me is like... I've always felt super respected and empowered by him. I think that he's situated me in a position in the team where I can take a leadership role, which for me is super important. Especially as I kind of hit the twilight of my playing career seeing him have the success that he's had from the right off the bat. With people like Dom (Kinnear), Kenny (Arena), Ricky (Paez) and Paul (Rogers) supporting him. It's been really cool and inspirational to just good people get what they deserve."

On Kann's shortlist of post-playing career endeavors are pursuing a career in coaching, particularly coaching younger players. Whenever opportunities for interaction between the FC Cincinnati Academy and the first team arise, Kann is typically one of the first at the gate to go out with the Young Garys and help them work on their craft. Oftentimes, his assistant or willingness to volunteer his time comes unprompted.

"That's a big reason why I wanted to stay here," Kann admitted. "There's such a great relationship between the coaching staff in the first team and in the second team and the Academy. So if I wanted to get involved in any of those different areas, I think that those doors would be open to me."

Kann says he will be pursuing the beginnings of his coaching license this fall with the club's blessing, with eyes toward helping the club's academy when the time is right to end his playing career.

An inspiration for Kann to pursue this line of work comes from his coach, Paul Rogers, who serves as the club's Director of Goalkeeping. So while Rogers - as decorated a goalkeeping coach there is whose CV includes coaching teams to Olympic Gold Medal and World Cup Finals among other things - does serve as the primary first team instructor his influence reaches even further down the organization.

"Paul is an expert communicator," Kann said of his coach with reverence. "Especially at the age I'm at now, there are times when I need to take a step back or push myself a little bit more, and I never have to really look over my shoulder or think that I'm being judged for a particular decision that I make day-to-day. So, having that trust in him is huge."

"And as a coach, he knows the game inside out. He's super experienced. I think if I had had him 10 years ago, things in my career might have gone a little bit differently... but I'm really fortunate to be working with him now. As my coach but also learning from him seeing the way that he works with us and some of the younger goalkeepers as I'm starting to think about what's next in my life as well."

This is not a retirement story, though. The contract extension ensures Alec Kann will be an important part of FC Cincinnati's puzzle for at least the next season and a half. However, the mindset suggests he will be impactful for this club for far longer than that.

"Personally I want to continue to make myself available to play meaningful games," Kann said. "I still think I have a lot to offer as a player. I think last year was as good as I played consistently and I got a couple games earlier in this season, which I felt like put me on the trajectory to not only get back in training and do well but also push Roman and push the other goalkeepers to try to play because I'm always looking to play. I'm never content with not playing."

"But whatever role I'm in, I'm gonna dive into it headfirst, whether that's as the starter or the second or the third. I'm gonna try to get the best out of the guys around me."

Even as a player, he thinks about the team first. He wants to start, but he knows that by training well and being an important part of the locker room, he can improve the team. This is an admirable quality-a mixture of selfishness and selflessness in perfect harmony.

Alec Kann has been a goalkeeper all over the country and has made stops at organizations at levels all through the American Soccer Pyramid. From his time as Furman Paladin in the NCAA to USL League 2 to MLS and everywhere in between, Kann, the Georgia native who has been everywhere, has seen what there is to offer and wants to be with FC Cincinnati.

"I enjoy my time here...The way we go about training, about meetings, about spending time together. It's an organization full of great players but also great people." Kann says with a grin. "I think that's conducive to the great culture we've built... I'm just happy I get to come work in this building every day."

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