FC Cincinnati sign homegrown talent 'Dado' Valenzuela

Dado in action v New England Revolution II
Dado in action v New England Revolution II / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Cincy's banking on homegrown youth, signing midfielder Gerardo 'Dado' Valenzuela through the 2026 season – with options for 2027 and 2028, as the team sits momentarily at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The 18-year-old is now the seventh player from the Orange and Blue academy system to sign a first-team deal. He'll also be the fifth that does so who is currently on the roster.

"Dado is an exciting young player who has worked incredibly hard for this opportunity," Chris Albright, FC Cincinnati’s general manager, said in a release. "He has an innate ability on the ball and continues to improve his defensive understanding of the game.

"His growth from our academy through MLS NEXT Pro has been a testament to all the work that’s been done in our player pathway and we look forward to his continued development with the first team."

Dado has scored twice and provided an assist for FC Cincinnati 2 in 22 games for the MLS NEXT Pro club and is one of the most highly rated players in the squad with an overall 7.29 FotMob rating.

He joined the academy in the fall of 2020 and played for the U-17 and U-19 squads.

"I'm excited to sign my first professional contract with FC Cincinnati," said Valenzuela. "It's been my dream to be a professional ever since I was little, and it feels even better to have achieved this with the support of this great team, my family, and my coaches."

Cincy will be hoping that Dado joins and contributes to the senior squad alongside 19-year-old forward Arquimides Ordoñez, who's currently with the Guatemala squad at the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Argentina.