Don't Call it a Comeback: #JaapOutOut
Actually, do call it a comeback, that’s exactly what this is. The FC is currently, this very moment, in their best ever unbeaten streak in MLS history. That’s right, until Hell is Real, The Garys have not gone four matches in a row without a loss. Three times in MLS history the team has gone three matches without a loss, but never four. Five? Five would just be ridiculous. Two? Well if we don’t count the three and four game streak(s), there have been two instances of going two matches without a loss. Six? Six would be right out.
Cincinnati hasn’t exactly been successful in MLS.
Until now! That is, if you count not losing a game in four matches to be success. Which, to be clear, it isn’t... not success! Thinking back on the feelings I (and tens of thousands of others, surely) felt during the NYCFC match, I really didn’t think this team would ever get on their feet. And yet here we are a few days removed from the first Hell is Real derby and I can’t stop thinking about how it should have been a win and that draw really felt like a loss.
This my friends, this is progress.
As the so-called ringleader of the #StamOut crowd, I have been happy to have been proven wrong these last few weeks. It’s actually been fun to be an FC Cincinnati fan again. Before the Colorado match, I said The FC needed to bring home four points minimum from the next five matches. They went out and won eight. I laid out the parameters of the test and it was passed, handily.
Here were the points predictions of other contributors over that five match stretch:
Joseph Meme: 5
Max Ellerbe: 4
Grayson Chalmers: 9
Erik Seyferth: 5
Troy Breisch: 8
Kevin Wallace: 4
Beating everyone's expectations except for Grayson who demands perfection. Even the most optimistic amongst us didn't think the team would pull of this stretch of matches.
Now, that’s not to say it was wrong to question the management before and after that Colorado home match. The team was in a terrible position and nothing looked like it was working. If you weren’t a little worried about the team, and are a fan, you have diamond hands that would make Melvin Capital nervous.
A lot of the criticisms of Stam are still very much present with this team. The offense is still disjointed, despite looking a little better against Columbus. There are still huge stretches of the game where FCC gives up too much possession and seemly decides it only wants to play defense. And the late game tactical decisions are very much suspect. Starting a match off strong, adding away for the middle fifty minutes or so, then coming back strong is a very common theme with this team. One that, until just a couple of weeks ago, was not producing results.
That’s not to say Stam and even Nijkamp can’t learn on the job and get better. They absolutely can. I'd even say they have. What I didn’t want to happen, and still don’t want to happen, is for them to go through their growing pains with the team I am a fan of. These are veterans of European football, they were not brought in to be projects, they were brought in to bring experience and know-how to the front office. Maybe if FCC appointed Austin Berry as manager and Andrew Weideman as GM I’d be more willing to let the team grow and learn with the management, but not with two experienced professionals at the helm. (Side note: please don’t hire a former fan favorite to learn on the job with FCC, unless it’s signing Jimmy and Ledemsa to FCC2 to be buddy-cop-movie player/managers together, then absolutely do it).
This team is improving though! So here’s to hoping things have finally been figured out, roster improvements continue, and Cincinnati finds a way into the playoffs.
Or more twitter rants. Whatever gets more clicks.