Friday Funblast: October 16th
Welcome back to the Friday Funblast – your number one source for news on the “week that was” in FC Cincinnati. And, fucking hell, what a week it was.
Hell is Victory?
We’re going to start out with actual soccer for a change because – holy fucking shit – FC Cincinnati not only scored goals, they scored more goals than the team they were playing. This is something that has happened only 10 goddamn times in the past two seasons. They also tied their season high with two goals scored in the same match. What the actual fuck?
There’s a lot to unpack about the periphery of this match, but lost in the shuffle was that a lineup that looked godawful on paper actually came in and played like a cohesive unit. I find Bill Simmons to be a generally insufferable, self-aggrandizing prick, but is there a little element of Ewing Theory at work here? No clue. What was apparent, though, is that there was finally some fucking urgency from the side, with guys getting minutes and looking to show out. The backline defending seemed instantly upgraded with Abdul-Salam – which puts into perspective how fucking ridiculous it was that he, a guy with starts for Seattle, NYCFC and SKC over the past 3 seasons, was stuck to the pine while other dudes got dog-walked routinely by opposing offenses. At no point did we think “Hey, maybe this MLS veteran of good, well-run franchises might have something better than the pile of awful that is our current backline?” Seriously?
Offensively, this was the most threatening the club has looked since the day it demanded $100M of taxpayer money from the Hamilton County Commissioners. There was some actual purpose to the movement, and Alvaro Barreal looked every bit like a dude who was giving the ol’ “Fuck you” to anyone who thought he was going to be a project brought along slowly. The first-half PK was well-earned and – shock of the god damn century – we managed to score on a set-piece without the opposing GK completely fucking up to allow an Olimpico. The ending run of play was well-handled and the team looked confident in the all-too-unfamiliar position of professionally seeing out a result.
It’s impossible not to be pleased with the result of Wednesday’s match, but this type of thing needs to be more regular. I said on a group text, while watching, “Damn, it feels fucking good to watch a regular 2-1 victory.” And, looking back, it’s exasperating how few matches like that FC Cincinnati has played in it’s MLS history. The kind of game where you feel completely invested all 90’, where you feel like going up 3-1 is actually a more likely outcome than conceding back to 2-2, where you aren’t screaming for a PK on phantom contact because it’s your only fucking chance of seeing the ball go in the back of the net. We need more of that. And we need it more regularly – especially considering the Sunday match (which really merits no discussion) was more of the same old boring bullshit.
Getting Mad About Hanging Fabric
So let’s talk about the elephant in the room – #BannerGate. I’m going to address this in a few parts, because I think some shit needs to be said here – even though I’m incredibly confident that no one who needs to hear this will bother hearing it.
First off, to anyone who has a take of “BUT YOU ABANDONED THE PLAYERS!!!111” or “WHAT ABOUT CINCY ‘TIL I DIE!!!!11” – please call your internet or cell phone provider and ask them to turn off your data plan, because you are a fucking moron and shouldn’t be trusted to be online unsupervised.
I would follow up by asking said people: Do you actually fucking follow soccer outside of FCC? You can’t go a fucking season without half a dozen team fans protesting over something. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about a match in Germany being abandoned because fans were protesting Hoffenheim’s cartoonish villain of an owner. Even saintly Liverpool fans walked out of a match to protest what their club was doing with ticket prices. And, if they aren’t showing anger, European fans are notorious for taking the piss out of their own clubs with ironic songs about just possessing the ball or showing up with giant fucking arrows pointing their team to where the goal is. So, miss me with that shit if your take is “You must be positive 100% of the time or you’re actually a non-fan.” I don’t believe many of the people seriously believe this anyway, because a lot of people ranting about it on Reddit and Twitter are the same motherfuckers whocall players trash or demand ouster of people when results aren’t there. You can’t have this one both ways.
The other main question I’d ask to everyone who got #BigMadAboutBanners online is this: What will it take for you to be comfortable with public criticism of this club? The team is, once again, dead last in the league in goal differential. A loss to DC United this weekend would put the club 2 points off a repeat effort in the Chase for the Wooden Spoon. Upuntil Wednesday, the team had scored exactly 2 goals since returning to play in August while conceding a billion. Of Jaap Stam’s 6 results as head coach in the return to play, 4 of them have been 0-0 draws. Twice since the return to play, FC Cincinnati has gone 5 games in a row without scoring a single fucking goal. This comes on the heels of an offseason where two ineffective DPs were brought in and a coach needed to be fired for(apparently) substantiated allegations of racism, and a first season where the team set records for futility and was a laughingstock by year’s end.
By any reasonable metric, shit has not been good for FC Cincinnati since the move to MLS. And, a lot of smarter people than myself, who understand better how the Tricky Don Funbucks™ system works, are warning that it’s going to be very difficult for FC Cincinnati to get better, absent a huge cash infusion for replacement DP signings.
So, I ask again: what it would take for you to feel public criticism of the club is justified if two straight seasons of godawful, national-embarrassment level soccer isn’t enough? Three straight seasons? Five? CL3 pissing on a fucking picture of Baby Fiona? I’d suggest that if you can’t answer this question, or feel that the fans should always be super positive and “up the lads” 24/7, that’s a one way ticket to Bengalsdom and Redsdom, with a disengaged and apathetic fanbase that becomes conditioned to losing and where empty seats outnumber people until the stars align and the team gets good enough to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Is that what you want for FC Cincinnati? Because I sure as shit want better.
Feeling Good to Feel
As an aside to the story above – wherever you fall on #BannerGate, wasn’t it at least nice to *feel* something again? It had been a minute since we had a good, old-fashioned fight within the fanbase about something. It brought to mind so many golden oldies: No Wave in the Bailey, ThunderClap Causes Goals, SGs are Entitled for Making StadiumRequests, Is Newport part of Cincinnati, Logo Sucks v. Up The Garys, etc. It’s the first thing that has seemed normal about 2020 in fucking eternity.
Cincy GM Talk
Gerard Nijkamp is going to be a guest on CST next week. It’s a good and timely get for them, and I hope to fucking god they use their opportunity to ask some tough questions. I laid out my take last week that Gerard might actually be fucking terrible at his job, but there is some basic shit that he really is overdue on giving an account of. We’re used to hearing a lot from Jeff Berding, but if the fans are going to keep buying in, we need to hear from the guy making decisions where the light at the end of this fucking tunnel is regarding club performance. It would be awesome if the club would conduct some kind of fan Town Hall, where people were allowed to ask questions of the GM and Manager like it's one of those Presidential Debates (you know, where the find the absolute dumbest motherfuckers who are still claiming to be "undecided voters" after living through the most polarizing period of American history this side of the #TeamJacob / #TeamEdward years), but in lieu of that, this is the best we're going to get it seems. We also need to / should hear about why our DPs aren’t performing, and what is going to be done in the future to maximize those spots. And, maybe, when we’re going to bother bringing in some impact American players to round out a roster that is out of International spots. Even if you’re not ready to move on from Nijkamp,the honeymoon should be fucking over at the very least, and he should be made to answer for his performance to this point and sell why his vision of the future ought to be trusted.
So, I think what I’m really saying is: Please don’t fucking ask him if he likes Skyline now.
Alright, that’s it for this week – a banner week in the history of FC Cincinnati. Until next time, see you motherfuckers in the Thunderdome.