Coaching Limbo: Can We Lower The Bar Any Further?
How do you feel about the following passage:
"Look, this manager needs time. It's a rebuilt squad with, yes, plenty of faces of last year but also some big money additions up top and on the wings. This team has still scored 8 goals in 11 matches, beat and drew MLS Cup Finalists from the year before, and they have eight points on the season. You have to give this manager time and while they don't have every piece (this team still needs key additions in midfield and defense) you gotta let the manager manage out of their slump and let their style find its footing. It's too hasty to fire a manager after only 11 matches, and besides, who are you going to replace them with if you do fire them? Do you really want the same people making the decision to hire the replacement that hired this manager? We just need to see it out. Goalless streaks happen, but the law of averages say it can't continue. Don't fire the manager"
Seem reasonable? Well if you can get onboard with the above sentiment, you would have been against firing Alan Koch during the 2019 season. And I don't seem to remember too many people upset about that at the time. Well, I can think of one person who has now developed a reputation for never criticizing managers (Hey you, re-read those DMs, you never actually apologized).
Against Montreal, FC Cincinnati lost the possession battle, got off just one more shot, was out passed, had a lower passing completion percentage, had 30 fewer passes into the final third, lost the expected goals battle, had 35 fewer progressive passes, fewer successful dribbles, had 11 fewer crosses, and one fewer corner. Cincinnati looked flat with players that still don't look totally comfortable in positions they've never played before this season. Passes were constantly falling short. And it was hotter in Cincinnati than it was in Miami.
Oh and this happened
All-in-all, coach of the week material, wouldn't you say?
The final score was 2-1 for the orange and blue. FC Cincinnati's first come back victory in MLS and first comeback result since Week 2 of the 2019 season.
To keep things in context, Montreal isn't allowed to play in Montreal; this was a neutral site match due to covid restrictions. Montreal players aren't allowed to go back home. Montreal is a team that had its star-player-turned-mediocre-manager quit on them right before the season kicked off. You'd think this would be important context, certainly something to consider before anyone goes and takes a victory lap for something they had nothing to do with.
But hey, I'm just a guy pretending to be a journalist.
FC Cincinnati is set to face the New England Revolution this weekend and boy are the expectations being lowered for this one. Every single local media outlet is writing off the Orange and Blue. Modest predictions of 3-1 losses on twitter should tell fans that even Stam's most ardent fans think he isn't up to the task beating Bruce Arena's team.
FC Cincinnati spends $4 million dollars more on player salaries. FCC is the only team with 3 players in the top 27 highest earners in MLS. FCC is the only team with 6 or more players making $1 million in salary this season. Of course Cincinnati doesn't have a chance, why would you expect them to compete with New England?
In 2019 New England were such a bad team that an FC Cincinnati 2-0 victory earned Alan Koch Manager of the Week honors. That same New England team fired their manager just 10 matches into the season, signed an MLS veteran manager and a new DP, Gustavo Bou, and turned into an overnight playoff contender. A pretty remarkable difference that a new manager and one new signing did for a team that was worse than FC Cincinnati. In fact, I'll be bold and say that if New England can become a contender with little more than a DP and a new manager, FC Cincinnati could take the opportunity to do that very same move this summer with Locadia moving on (at least as a DP) and potentially letting Jaap Stam go. It would be a hot take if it hadn't literally happened with New England. And San Jose. And Orlando. And Houston. And the Galaxy.
As for this year? Well this week MLSSoccer.com ranks them as the second best team in the league. All while New England is starting a guy who was destined for a career in USL before he's been asked to start for one of the hottest teams in the league. Their attacking midfielder is a guy who struggled in the Spanish second division. Their stud striker has scored just once this season. Their manager failed to qualify the United States for a World Cup when all they needed was a draw against Trinidad and Tobago.
But just listen to Jaap Stam's biggest defenders, there's absolutely no way Cincinnati fans should expect a result against New England. It just can't be done. Put it out of mind. In fact, it's such a mismatch, we can't possibly judge FC Cincinnati's management by this match. That the most important takeaway here.
Must be nice. I wish The Post was held to such low standards. It would keep my foster kids from being ashamed of me.
So far on the season, big-money signing Brenner has not been played in a position that would allow him to flourish as a target forward for Cincinnati. In fact, the exact same thing happened to Adi, so it'll be interesting to watch when fans and the media decide to turn on him for not making this team win by giving up bad goals. Either way, one penalty isn't a great return so far for a $13 million transfer fee.
Here's an interesting note from SBI's Tyler Snipes for the goals Cincinnati has scored: every goal has been scored by a different player. On one hand, that would be a great statistic if FCC played a free-flowing attacking soccer with a front three and midfield constantly moving and switching positions to create goal scoring opportunities. But that's not what they do, is it. If anything, it highlights a lack of a cohesive attacking plan to put certain players (might I suggest Brenner?) into positions to score. With most of the goals coming from set pieces this season, it should be obvious by now that there isn't a great plan for attacking. Or if there is one, it's not working.
So please calibrate your expectations accordingly. Then ponder why you have to calibrate your expectations in the first place.
And by all means, if FC Cincinnati wins, retweet and share this article with everyone you know. Talk about it with friends and family. Share it to the bailey Facebook page. Post it on Reddit. Please, the engagement would just be humiliating.