Hell is Real for Boupendza

And Kevin Kelsy has entered the conversation
Monterrey v FC Cincinnati: Round Of 16 - Concacaf Champions Cup - Leg One
Monterrey v FC Cincinnati: Round Of 16 - Concacaf Champions Cup - Leg One / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

To say that’s Aaron Boupendza's time in Cincinnati has been smooth would be patently false.

The 27 year-old Gabonese striker joined FC Cincinnati in June 2023 and was to be the replacement for the departing star Brandon Vazquez. Unfortunately for Aaron, his journey with Cincinnati has been littered by controversy (rather than goals).

Here is a timeline of Boup’s predicaments:

- Suspended by FCC in October 2023 for failing to return on time from International Duty for Gabon.

- November 2023: According to Cincinnati Inquirer, Boupendza’s phone was stolen while at home in Gabon and a group of people have accessed his phone to allegedly blackmail him over a sex tape. He could see prison time and fines in Gabon as circulated pornographic content is a crime.

- Sent back to the USA in November 2023 by the Gabon National Team for failing to report to a match.

- April 2024: Suffered a broken jaw in an altercation outside of a bar in downtown Cincinnati. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks due to this injury.

Despite Boupendza’s frequent tardiness and other troubling issues, FC Cincinnati leadership has stayed by their man. This may be because they paid $7 million in transfer fees in June 2023 for him or that his contract runs through the end of 2025. More than likely, it could be that FCC is in desperate needs of goals and strikers.

To add to Boupendza’s pain, newly signed 19 year-old Kevin Kelsy seems to have the goods. In his second match ever with the club, he came on in the 67th minutes and slam-dunked a Lucho Acosta alley-oop in the 74th minute to put FCC ahead 1-0 in the ‘Hell is Real’ rivalry game.

Kelsy’s 6 foot 4 inch frame and wearing the #19 shirt is reminding many fans of recently departed club legend Brandon Vazquez. If Kelsy can be half as productive as Vazquez was during his time at FCC, that would make Aaron Boupendza’s services redundant. Kelsy is on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk and the FCC does have an option to buy his contract when the loan ends.

Also, shoutout to Coach Pat Noonan for winning his 50th match as Head Coach for FC Cincinnati on Saturday night. His consistent leadership is steadying the ship from the semi-rocky start to this season. The club is on a 4-game winning streak and just like how the ‘Hell is Real’ win in May 2023 really established FCC as a contender last year, this season’s victory will hopefully reinvigorate Cincy’s title hopes for 2024.