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Don Garber praises FC Cincinnati: 'They have done a lot of things well'

FC Cincy fans
FC Cincinnati averaged more than 17,000 fans last season.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber was full of praise for expansion candidate Cincinnati during his visit to the Queen City on Tuesday, but added added there is still plenty of work to be done.

FC Cincinnati just concluded a highly successful first season in the third-tier USL, averaging 17,296 fans in its league games, and reaching the playoffs after finishing third in the Eastern Conference.

"They've just got to keep doing what they're doing because they're doing it really well," Garber told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "Build their brand. Continue to expand their fan base. Continue to get embedded in their community with the civic leaders and business leaders. They have done a lot of things really well."

Kevin Brown speaks to Minnesota United Sporting Director Manny Lagos and Atlanta United's Darren Eales about expansion.

But while the market and ownership group appear to be off to a good start in meeting MLS standards, Garber added that a plan to build and play in its own stadium is needed. Currently the team plays its games at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.

"I think what they've been able to do [at Nippert] is spectacular, but we do believe that our clubs will be more successful in soccer stadiums," Garber said.

Garber added that he also wanted to see evidence of sustained success in Cincinnati.

"We all need to be sure that all the elements that you need to be successful exist in the market," he said. "Certainly, it seems as if it does in the short term [in Cincinnati], but we want to be sure, as I think ownership does as well, that that will make sense over the mid and long term."

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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