FC Cincinnati buys out Kamohelo Mokotjo's contract in latest move to rebuild roster

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Whether or not Kamohelo Mokotjo's disappointing stay at FC Cincinnati was his own doing, a case of mismanagement by the club's coaches or other factors isn't of much consequence now.

Mokotjo played parts of the last two seasons at FC Cincinnati but wasn't an FCC player as of Tuesday. After it was reported by multiple outlets this week that Mokotjo was on trial with Dutch first-division side FC Twente, FC Cincinnati confirmed Tuesday it had exercised an offseason contract buyout on Mokotjo.

Major League Soccer clubs are permitted to use one contract buyout each offseason, and in this case it means Mokotjo's salary no longer counts against FC Cincinnati's 2022 salary budget.

Payout out the contract is still spent money for the club but something of a windfall considering MLS is a salary cap league and that Mokotjo was both a $1 million-plus wage earner, according to MLS Players Association salary data, and required the use of a coveted international roster spot

FC Cincinnati midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo (15) kicks down field in the first half of the MLS soccer match between the FC Cincinnati and the D.C. United at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. D.C. United led 1-0 after one half.
FC Cincinnati midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo (15) kicks down field in the first half of the MLS soccer match between the FC Cincinnati and the D.C. United at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. D.C. United led 1-0 after one half.

The move constitutes one of the most consequential decisions of General Manager Chris Albright's young tenure at the club.

Mokotjo was acquired in the 2020 summer transfer window but by the end of the 2021 season, he'd totaled just 22 appearances and not much of an impact on the club.

Underscoring Mokotjo's lack of a contribution was his salary, which was deserved and hard-earned considering his pedigree and past stops. But the simple fact was that the midfielder's contract wasn't a good value for FCC, which at one point in 2021 rostered a league-high six million-dollar earners and still finished in last place.

FC Cincinnati reported Mokotjo's contract for 2022 was guaranteed, and the decision on his future loomed over the entire offseason.

A final decision on Mokotjo appeared to be on the horizon in recent days as the reports surfaced of Mokotjo trialing FC Twente.

Mokotjo previously played at Twente, which is now managed by former FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans and currently sits sixth in the Netherlands top-flight league, the Eredevisie.

Subtracting Mokotjo from FC Cincinnati's midfield opens up a roster spot and some money to put toward a possible replacement. It's worth keeping in mind that Albright has stressed he won't rush to fill all of FC Cincinnati's needs before the season starts.

Albright has indicated numerous times in public remarks he doesn't want the club's Feb. 26 regular season opener at Austin FC to cause the club to rush into roster decisions.

Albright's overseen a handful of moves this offseason, and one could characterize them as pragmatic.

The club has so far added veteran defenders John Nelson, Alvas Powell and Ray Gaddis, the latter of which came out of retirement to sign on for FC Cincinnati.

FC Cincinnati and MLS veteran Nick Hagglund is also returning for the club.

Cincinnati also added goalkeeper Alec Kann, who served as backup to Brad Guzan at Atlanta United in recent years. Dominque Badji will help anchor the attack and could contribute some goals to FCC's tally in 2022.

Cincinnati also added three players in last week's MLS SuperDraft.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: FC Cincinnati roster: Kamohelo Mokotjo MLS contract buyout

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