The Friday Funbalst — 5/21/21

Will Smith don't have to cuss in his raps to sell records. Well I do, so fuck him and fuck Miami too. This week we opened a stadium and saw, dare I say, hope for the future? Postivity from the Chief? The world truly has gone mad. Onward...

OUR MIAMI VICE? PLAYING GUYS OUT OF POSITION

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the FC lost another soccer game this past week. If you’d asked me to sit down and write a game recap in the immediate aftermath, it would’ve been a long-winded screed about how everything is shit and the need for change to come. And, to be very clear, I still feel there needs to be change on this team. I think Gerard Nijkamp has been a net negative for this club, and I absolutely believe that Jaap Stam lacks basic managerial skills needed in a league like MLS. If it were up to me, the two of them would’ve been out of work a week ago. Their record with this club speaks for itself.

But, having said that…

If you squinted hard enough, you could see maybe where things could get better for FC Cincinnati this season. I don’t want to overstate the obvious, but this is a different fucking team with Geoff Cameron in the lineup. One of the things that has been missing from this club for the past two seasons is leadership in the dressing room. It’s cliche sports talk-radio bullshit, but if you looked at FC Cincinnati in 2019 and 2020 and asked “Who’s team is this?” I don’t know that the answer is readily apparent. The captain for both years was Kendall Waston, but was there ever a vibe that The FC was “his” team? With most great teams in soccer, there’s a field general somewhere on the pitch who is the unquestioned leader of the squad. You think of John Terry or Roy Keane — the kind of guy who doesn’t take shit from anyone and who will be in your face the second you fuck something up to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Geoff Cameron is that dude. He was that guy at QPR during his past few seasons there, and you could see that coming out Sunday. He probably doesn’t know half the fucking names on this team, and his natural instinct was still to step up and take charge. The value of that — having a leading man with MLS and world football experience — for this FCC team cannot possibly be overstated.

Leadership.

Seeing Cameron and Acosta on the field together for FCC gave the feeling that the back and the front of this team are now in capable hands. Both of them are MLS veterans with world-class talent. They don’t need to learn about this league — they’re free to do and lead others who do need to acclimate. Their play reduces the number of glaring issues on this team to two: Right Back and Defensive Mid. There’s no way to sugar coat it — these two positions remain fucking dumpster fires and outright indictments of Nijkamp’s ability to build a roster. The third, associated problem isn’t a position so much as it is a person: Jurgen Locadia. Right now he’s occupying one of the three most important salary slots on the team and providing negative value to the club. It’s comical to watch him ineffectively running up and down the pitch, knowing that he was brought in to be a game changing forward. Instead, he’s just running out the clock until this loan ends and the team can ship him on the first flight back to Europe. He’s tied into the other two problems because his DP slot is probably needed to fill one of them. But, once that happens, the cascade effect could be sudden — a DP midfielder could improve the defense immediately, and free up Yuya Kubo to shift back to the wing (where he can hopefully shed the label of biggest disappointment to come from Japan since the Gyroball), improving two positions at once. Pair that with a Right Back who can actually play right back…?

The point is there were positive signs for the FC this week. Watching the team fight back from 2-0 down instead of just going somewhere to die quietly in a corner was a massive step in the right direction. The thing is now is that the team needs to follow up “steps in the right direction” with actually walking in the fucking direction. This weekend at “Montreal” (or, at least, the part of Florida playing the role of Montreal — minus the dickheads who refuse to speak English to you when they figure out you’re an American) is a chance to show that this weekend wasn’t an aberration. Will they? Beats the hell out of me. But it’s absolutely a more hopeful feeling than wondering how the team is gonna respond from getting spoonfucked 5-0 by NYCFC.

THE GANG OPENS A NEW STADIUM

We all got our chance to experience that “new stadium smell” (before the pleasant aroma of vomit, urine, and kettle corn seeps too deeply into the stone to ever clean) at the Tickle on Saturday. Not gonna lie, the Chief got a little emotional walking in and realizing the enormity of what was going on. This dumb little club — a club that didn’t fucking exist a mere 6 years ago — had climbed the hill. And now they were taking the pitch on a natural-grass soccer field right in the heart of Cincinnati. Pretty fucking cool. And, thanks to the limited capacity / use of seniority to determine ticketing, the faces walking around the concourse were a lot of the people who had been instrumental (in ways large and small) in that being a reality. It felt like a family reunion, minus having to hear your racist uncle give updates on how Q was fighting back against satanic child murderers.

The new home. Now in Epic Metal.

My quick thoughts on the new facility, as it performed on gameday:

* Everything was quick (getting through security, getting a beer, etc.) but there were still lines. You wonder how much worse things are going to get as capacity gets closer to 26K+. Hopefully they’ll be ready with more staff as that happens.

* Coors Bar was a big thumbs up (as we’ve discussed previously: Tall Boy Coors Banquet is just a superior thing to own/have while you enjoy a game).

* The “Bailey Bar” is a good idea, but the signage is fucking trash and needs to get better. For example, the signs list prices for “DOMESTIC BEER” and “CRAFT BEER” but don’t actually tell you what the fuck they’re selling. There’s an entire fridge full of cans behind the bar, and fuck if I know what’s back there. Or, even if I know what the beers were, there was minimal indication what kind of style / type the beer is. I’m a big a craft beer guy, and I’m really happy they went with the breweries they did — but I couldn’t tell you what Esoteric Brewing’s beers are. And I sure as shit don’t know their stuff well enough to figure that out just from looking at a fucking can from 10 feet away through a glass door. And absolutely no one wants to be “that fucking dickhead” who asks questions to volunteer concession worker about beer styles while there’s an entire queue full of people behind you, desperately searching about for something sharp to shank you with for wasting time. It’s like being behind the clueless fucks at a concert march stand who need to hold up every fucking t-shirt to see if, just maybe, they’ve magically lost the 20lbs to go down a size while waiting in line.

I’m begging on this one — some signage of any sort to help.

* The stadium is going to be loud as fuck when it gets to capacity. I’d love to meet the mad lad who decided “let’s make the spot where the drunk people sit completely out of metal,” because it turns every god damn thing you’re holding into a drumstick. Find yourself with a flag? Bang it on the metal and make lots of noise. Empty beer can? Bang it on the metal and make a lot of noise. Wearing heavy shoes? Jump up and down on the fucking metal and make noise. There’s approximately zero excuse now for the stadium to ever be quiet (well, other than the team being shitty and constantly chasing matches, but even then — fucking bang shit out of anger).

Overall, a solid first run out. Job well done to the ops staff at FC Cincinnati, who I have it on good authority accumulated a shitload more gray hairs in the past few days hoping that all of this would come together.

PAUL DAUGHERTY WANTS A NICKNAME FOR THE FC

One of the stupider things to come out of the traditional media was this pile of festering shit from noted Enquirer scribe Paul Daugherty. Daugherty — for those of you under 30 — is an Enquirer columnist who is basically the Sam’s Choice version of Tony Kornheiser. Like Kornheiser, he also had a radio show for a minute and was also given a Sunday column to write about non-sports things (back when people got their hot takes from newspaper columnists and not twitter). In what came as a shock to absolutely fucking no one, neither of these things lasted.

“Doc” as he’s known, decided to opine this week about the fact that The FC would be a better thing if only they would embrace having a nickname. Writing for Cincinnati’s paper of record:

“In the interest of expanding its fan base, might FCC consider a nickname more locals could rally around? Especially when you see the roster turnover year to year, and the fact that even diehard fans have little connection to most of the players who pass through here.”

The remainder of the column gave off similar Boomer energy, decrying as a “non-starter” the concept of liking of a sport that allows players to return for international duty during the season or the idea of loaning players.

It’s an amusing aside to the story coming out of Columbus — where Crew supporters (most of whom would need a Google search to find the “BUY TICKETS” portion of the team website) once again managed to show that their only superpower is anger at their own team. They fought hard to keep, objectively, one of the stupidest brandings in pro sports (though, I’d argue if they had any fucking balls, they’d have demanded to bring the hard hat guys back — prove me wrong, but the fact that they won’t tells me that they’re really just in this to fight and have no great love of their name).

They fought, only to end up with this.

Me? I’m glad that FC Cincinnati doesn’t have some dumb fucking name attached to it. For one, all the good pro-sports nicknames are taken — and unless you’re going to do some dumb “PAY ATTENTION TO MY TEAM” shit like they do in minor league baseball (see: “The Disco Turkeys”), you’re inevitably going to end up with some shitty name like the Kraken or the Pelicans. It’s so hard to come up with a decent nickname that I’m betting the “Washington Football Team” stays that way forever just to avoid picking something everyone fucking hates. And secondly, it allows the team to develop a moniker or a nickname organically. During their existence they’ve been called the Blue & Orange (at one time shortened to “Blurange” — which sounds more like something you hear from a person in the bathroom at 3AM after some poor choices involving tequila and White Castle), the Knifey Lions (now a hit podcast of the same name), the Flyin’ Lions, and the Fighting Garys. Will any of these stick permanently? Who the fuck knows — but I like it a lot better than some dumb fucking suit doing focus groups and having C-Suite dickheads pick the name for us.

So, message to Doc — stay in your lane on this one. And, if you can’t get into soccer because the team doesn’t have a fucking nickname, I’m sure there are Perry Mason reruns on somewhere on your cable system that can hold your attention for the two hours the rest of us are Upping the Garys.

PREDICTIONS FOR THE FC V. CLUB DE FOOT MONTREAL

It's not great.

Yes, that’s the real fucking name they picked for the Montreal Impact. Club De Foot sounds like the kind of place Rex Ryan has a lifetime subscription to, not the name of a fucking sports team. As bad as the Columbus Crew’s rebrand was, the Montreal one has to win for worst thing in recent MLS history. In addition to ruining the perfectly fine Impact name, they also changed the club logo to an anus with arrows pointing to the asshole. I’ve been to Montreal. It’s a top-tier city in North America. Incredible food. Vibrant downtown. Forgivable amount of French being spoken. They definitely deserve better than this shitty black & gray abomination of a logo and team name.

I don’t know why, but I’m feeling strangely positive about the FC on this one. Could this be where things turn around? Fuck it, why not.

3-2, winners to the Orange and Blue.

THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT JUVENTUS & CB GIORGIO CHIELLINI

It’s called “No Country for Old Men.”

Alright that’s all from us this week. We’ll be back next week to bitch about the fact that the dumb fucks at MLS Scheduling are putting the next home match at the exact same fucking time as the Champions League final. Until then, Banging Flagpoles Forever. Obstructed Sidewalks Never. See you motherfuckers in the Thunderdome!