Ahead of tonight’s final MLS is Back group match against FC Cincinnati, we spoke to Boston Brazzell of Cincy Soccer Talk to break down what to know about a Cincinnati team that may look a little different from the one New York Red Bulls saw in March.
The Cincinnati team that Red Bulls faced in March was one in a state of flux after the departure of Ron Jans. After his first a couple months and his first two games in charge, what is the confidence level of Cincinnati fans on the hiring and early tenure of legendary Dutch defender Jaap Stam as head coach?
Brazzell: Cincinnati is cautiously optimistic about the future under Stam. The club has hit the reset button twice since entering MLS and that has shown on the field. Off the field, however, the club looks good and fans have seen that and fans enter a new stadium next spring. FCC can’t afford to dump another manager so I anticipate Stam getting the time he needs to fix things here in Cincy. Will it happen overnight? That is unlikely but the hope is that they can’t finally take the baby steps forward without moving backward this time.
What does Stam’s tactical outlook seem to be in the long and short term with the squad of players at his disposal in Cincinnati?
Brazzell: Despite Stam’s history as a defensive player, he has hinted that he wants to play an attacking style. In his first match vs Columbus, he attempted to play more as he wants but then found out the hard way it just isn’t possible yet. A couple of days after the match he admitted as much to the media and said he will shift gears until he feels more comfortable. The next match vs Atlanta he put eleven players behind the ball and despite his warning, it still surprised us. I look forward to seeing how he adapts as he gets some key FC Cincy players back like Allan Cruz and Jürgen Locadia.
Who have been the key players for FCC so far in Orlando and who is mostly likely to trouble RBNY on Wednesday?
Brazzell: FC Cincinnati has picked up a number of injuries since arriving in Florida. That has forced Stam to plan differently than I believe he wanted to. Stam seemed really excited to get the pairing of Siem de Jong and Locadia on the pitch together before they left and we still have not seen it. The star thus far is our young generation Adidas and 2019 first overall draft pick, Frankie Amaya. Despite his youth, he has already earned a starting spot and is really a symbol of the FCC club. If you see the Orange and Blue grow into a proper MLS club, I believe you see Frankie grow into a major player in the league.