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While FC Cincinnati has had a fair share of ups and downs in its inaugural Major League Soccer season, the Orange and Blue have had one constant manning the middle of the field.
Victor Ulloa, a 5-foot-10 midfielder with the never-ending smile, has made 14 appearances — including 13 starts — for FCC, providing stability to a lineup that has constantly changed from game to game.
A homegrown player from Texas, Ulloa spent eight seasons with FC Dallas before coming to FCC via trade in 2018.
Ulloa recently sat down with FloFC and covered topics ranging from the move to his celebration plans for his first FCC goal.
FloFC: Eight years in Dallas, what is the big difference now that you are in Cincinnati?
Ulloa: I would say the scenery. In Dallas everything is flat, everything is huge, the highways, the streets, everything. Here it is more like one lane roads, you know, up and down. It is pretty cool though. Ohio has a lot of trees. The scenery is definitely different.
Texas is known for the heat. You have experienced winter, a rainy spring and now we are hitting summer in Cincinnati as well, any issues adjusting?
I thought the weather was crazy in Dallas but here in Cincinnati, it is definitely crazier.
You are a homegrown player for FC Dallas, spent eight years there. How easy, or hard, has the transition to FCC been?
I think I really expected it to be harder, but I have really enjoyed my time here. Everyone has been really nice and accommodating, especially being new parents. I expected it to be harder but we have settled in. No more boxes in our home for a while. We are starting to make this home.
A move to a new city, expansion team, and a newborn baby boy — how is the lack of sleep treating you?
It is getting better (laughing). Some days are definitely better than others. I am starting to get the hang of it.
Dallas is a much different culture than Cincinnati. How different do you find the options on food when you go out?
My wife cooks, so not a big change. We stay home a lot and eat in. We have tried some local places in Over-the-Rhine and they were pretty good. We don’t really go out much, though.
Do you get recognized when you go out?
I would say we get recognized more here than we did in Dallas. In Dallas it is so big and massive and you have the Cowboys, the Mavericks, the Stars. It was nice there and it has been nice here. We do get recognized more here, though.
Dallas Cowboys fans are fanatics. How do they compare with FCC fans, who also have been known to get rowdy?
Our fans are amazing here. You see it every game at home. They are into the game and really are amazing. I can tell you the team is grateful for the fans’ support. Hopefully we can turn this around and give them more wins and more happiness.
What is the biggest difference between an FC Dallas home game and an FCC home game?
Louder (laughing)! There are more fans here. The atmosphere here is amazing. The supporter group being so close to the goal and to the opposing team. When we score a goal the place is crazy. The smoke bombs, the chants, it is just crazy. The atmosphere is just phenomenal.
You are only 27 but have eight years of MLS experience. Is it weird being so young but still considered a veteran?
I guess I do see myself as a vet. I have a lot of experience and the kids in the locker room keep getting younger and unfortunately I am not getting younger (laughing). I try to use that experience and that wisdom to give me an advantage on the field. I just try to bring my experience and help the team.
New team, new city and you are already playing for your second coach at FCC. How was that experience?
It was a different experience for me. This is the first time I have experienced a change of coach so early in the season. At the end of the day the most important thing is the team and that is where I try to keep my focus.
The coaching change didn’t affect your playing time but did adjust your role in the midfield, taking on more offensive responsibilities. Are you ready to score goals now?
I like my role right now. I am getting to showcase my offensive side right now and hopefully I can put one in the back of the net.
If that goal happens in front of the home fans, any special celebrations planned?
No, no, no. I don’t pre-plan any celebrations because I am usually not so close to the goal. Now that I am getting more involved in the offense I might need to to start thinking about that.
I have given up on asking FCC players about Skyline Chili. Where do you like to eat when you do go out?
My favorite fast food place is Chipotle. Not sure the fans know this but I like the bowl, chicken with a side of guac of course.