Jeff Did Nothing Wrong Ever
Nah I’m just playing. But I’m glad you’re here now.
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle dropped a scathing piece on FC President Jeff Berding yesterday. It caused quite a commotion within the already nerve fried fanbase. The anecdotes to me read like a greatest hits of things we've already known / assumed about the dysfuncitonal soccer side of FCC in MLS. I remain steadfast in my desire to start the Albright era in peace. No, you say? Well fine. I figured I would go through the article and add some important and unimpeachable observations…
(My thoughts in bold)
On Wednesday, fans of FC Cincinnati witnessed what is by now a familiar sight. There was team president Jeff Berding, standing at the podium and introducing yet another hire on the technical side -- in this case, new GM Chris Albright. As FCC approaches the end of their third season in Major League Soccer, Albright is the team's third GM. The organization is also on the cusp of hiring its fourth manager, not including the two interim stints served by loyal assistant coach Yoann Damet.
Folks, the word ‘loyal’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. Some would say FC was very loyal to Damet, whose success can only be measured in whispers and dreams. I obviously long for the Damet Way like every other red-blooded fan, but our time simply had to come to an end.
This turnover is reflected in the team's results. Barring a late revival, Cincinnati is poised to finish dead last in the league for the third year running. Only once before in MLS history has a team finished last twice in succession: the Chicago Fire in 2015 and 2016.
This is false. Tyrone said he doesn’t see why we can’t win all of our home games. Have we lost one already? Yes. Can we win all the rest of them? Also yes. New GM bump is going to take a lot of our opponents by surprise.
So how is it that Cincinnati has continued to get things so spectacularly wrong?
This year’s home kit is top five in MLS. This article fails to mention that even once.
In an exclusive interview with ESPN, Berding continually referred back to the team's accelerated entry into MLS as an explanation for the team's struggles.
Ask the same questions, get the same dumb answer.
Prior to their debut season, FCC had only been a USL team for three campaigns. From the time of their last season in the USL Championship, Berding says the team had about 270 days to get everything together for their entry into MLS. Yet from the beginning, some of the blunders were stunning in their scope.
Blunders are subjective. I read on the wall art of an AirBnB recently that Great Risks Lead to Great Rewards. Not sure I'd put drafting Eric Alexander on the same level as the ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, but it's close.
There was Berding's decision to acquire all of the Philadelphia Union's picks in the 2019 SuperDraft for upwards of $200,000 in allocation money, a move that might have worked in the NFL, where Berding worked for 19 years, but didn't reflect the reality of how important MLS academies were becoming. It was akin to setting allocation money on fire. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN that it took multiple conversations to convince Berding how important academies were, although he did eventually get there.
I've heard this academy reference is entirely bullshit, but let’s assume it’s not. We have one now don’t we? Not only that, but we have the next great American athlete in Arquimides Ordonez. As far as the draft debacle goes, we hired the guy who swindled us for those picks, so clearly we've learned the hard way. Some might say we learned the fun way! Remember when we got all those picks? That was a scene, man. We give this league fantastic moments and they still wanna rip on us. Harsh.
As the team stumbled out of the gate, manager Alan Koch, who followed the team into MLS from the USL Championship, was then dismissed just 11 games into that first season. It would be hard to argue in good faith that Berding didn't already know precisely what he had in terms of Koch's strengths and weaknesses.
Well he either knows about soccer, or he doesn’t. CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO! I was very much on the fire Koch train and would have loved for him to get shit canned before MLS. This might be the best time for Jeff to reference the short runway (which FYI he should never do again) because that surely would have been a tough time to change. Koch had presided over a dominant USL regular season, so things at least looked good if you squinted your eyes. Real heads like Lance Laing knew better…
One MLS executive said, "In terms of [the technical side of] the soccer business, Berding is pretty clueless."
I’m told the Whitecaps GM said this.
Cincinnati was by no means the first team to struggle in its expansion season, but the quick run-up doesn't adequately explain how things went sideways in years two and three. Through it all, Berding remains the common thread. He served as the team's GM before turning over the technical reins to Gerard Nijkamp in May of 2019. Yet multiple league sources paint a picture of organizational dysfunction with Berding at the top, even as he has insisted that he put individuals in place to make the technical decisions.
Had a psychic reading recently and she promises me Charlotte will be shit for five seasons. That’s news, you can use.
"I think [Berding] created this burnout type of culture," said one source with knowledge of FCC's inner workings. "Work people really hard, underpay in the front office. I think in the front office, it created this dynamic through the club that people just weren't aligned. And I think people always felt that they had to be looking over their shoulder about what somebody was saying or doing." The source added that this went beyond the usual disagreements about players. It was also a culture that was reactive to external pressures.
That’s the problem when your soccer team fucking blows, isn’t it? If you’re the New England Patriots people say ‘well of course they’re demanding they’re the best!’ When you’re FC Spoon, you can’t fall back on the glory that doesn’t exist. Everyone assumes these quotes came from the oldest Tanner sister on Full House but it doesn’t really matter who said it. This is all a result of not keeping Ledesma.
"You have to really be insulated from the outside because you're going to go through those tough moments. You're going to have critics," the source said. "That's just what it is. It's part of it. But it's how can you, as a group, insulate yourself and have that trust that, 'OK, if we're going to ride together, we're going to die together' type of mentality.
"I don't think that synergy throughout the technical department has ever been there. And that comes with even Jeff leading the technical department. He said he didn't, but he did."
Synergy is a huge corporate buzzword. Maybe this quote came from someone higher up in the club. Wonder if “Who talked?!” is echoing through FC HQ today. mmmmmm…
Berding not only defended the organization's culture, but made no apologies for anyone who didn't last until the club's entry into MLS.
Mmm, pointed reference.
"I just led a group to the top of Everest, and some people didn't make it to the top," he told ESPN. "And some people probably have some remorse that we didn't slow down, so that they could also make it to the top of Everest. And at the end of the day, we didn't have the time to slow down, and so we just kept climbing.
They have to leave the corpses on the mountain cause it's such a pain in the ass to bring them down. The very VERY wealthy pay sherpas to retreive bodies, but it's dangerous work. Also, if you're someone who climbed Everest wouldn't that be the peak (sorry) place to 'buried'??
"Did I push and prod that group to the summit? Yes, I did. And I think that we're in a great place now to be enormously successful with Chris."
Listen, I get how ridiculous these quotes sound. I’ve lost my mind years ago so all I did was laugh on my first read through. Waifish trolls like Sam Stejskal will have you believe he’s not talking about the climb to MLS; and instead our highly successful three seasons in it. Clearly Jeff’s not. Should he have said any of this? No. Am I glad he did for my own entertainment? Yes. This is why I wasn’t clamoring for a press conference like so many of these idiots. We know the score, we know what time it is and we’ve seen the movie. I don’t need to self immolate to the soccer gods and scream “YES WE ARE FUCKING EMBARASSING PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGY!” We’re gonna get dunked on no matter what, so why throw an ally-oop to people who are only here for the jokes and clicks? Fuck em duuuude. On the other hand, we might get more metaphors. I'm here for that.
Yet the team's performances have remained mired in the Marianas Trench.
- I cut a lot out -
One example was the acquisition of Maikel van der Werff. Nijkamp was warned that the Dutch defender wasn't athletic enough for the league. He has since made just 24 league appearances in three seasons, and has missed all of the 2021 seasons with a groin injury.
This is a fantastic shot at VDW that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the article. I love it. A main thesis is Jeff getting involved in player business, but this is clearly an example of Gerard bringing in another stiff all by himself. This doesn’t make anyone look better, but I’m not being sarcastic when I say it’s my favorite passage. Oh Maikel. Jeff, maybe meddle next time there's a VDW situation. Although I hear he's a great passer!
- I cut out more shit -
"When you hire the GM, and I'll say this also with Chris, they're the ones that are going to lead alignment," he said. "They're the ones that are going to lead accountability to the alignment. And that was Gerard's responsibility. And obviously, the results didn't deliver.
"You can offer that the strategy was wrong. You can also say some of the hires didn't pan out. And I would say, respectfully, that that's why we made a change to Chris."
This is the meat of it for me. Everything in MLS has been crap, but this feels like a good move. If Albright is overseeing all of the soccer side, I’m happy. Hard to imagine him letting Jeff ‘meddle’ in any way that is lightly alluded to in this article.
- Yada yada -
Now the GM responsibilities belong to Albright and much like he did on the day of Nijkamp's hiring, Berding painted a picture of Albright having the final say on matters. But will he?
Not if he tries to extend VDW's contract.
According to multiple sources, Berding continues to have an unhealthy influence on the technical side of the organization. Earlier this year, a proposed trade involving Frankie Amaya nearly went off the rails when FCC filed tampering charges against both the Union and the New York Red Bulls, although Amaya did eventually end up in New York.
Kind of a misnomer to imply this trade specifically was solely on the technical side. My man Frank wanted OUT! He hated us (sniffles, wipes away tears). But fine, continue...
"Berding all of a sudden stepped in and was basically blocking everything," said one league source.
We traded Frankie for a million in MLS bucks. So like, fuck. It didn’t go off the rails after all, huh? One of the few moves I feel great about. Aborted takeoff vs plane crash are separated by only a few steps, but they are quite different outcomes. Also, what a great trade!
That’s enough. Can we drop all this shit now? You can’t spell Christ without our new savior Chris Albright and I’m ready to blindly follow this new GM regime. If this fails, then the #BerdingOut folks will surely get their wish. If it succeeds then “WE ARE WINNERS!” Now if you don’t mind I’m e-mailing Manu highlights to Chris as we speak…
Oh and Jeff just put this on my tab.