At exactly 12:15am on Sunday July 12th FC Cincinnati's system was exposed. At best, there is still a long way to go. At worst, the entire structure is in need of being torn down and rebuilt.
When going through a rebuilding, which is what FC Cincinnati has been doing since they fired Alan Koch last year, you need to see progress. There needs to be incremental improvements. You cannot continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. At the very least, fail in new ways.
That's not what fans were treated to over the weekend. What was put on national television was a rerun of FC Cincinnati's failures going back to 2018. A team that is incapable of looking dangerous. A game plan that either ignores the entire concept of a midfield or has been set up to fail for three years running. Outside backs pushing too far up the field to defend but alsoincapable of putting in a cross. A striker that is gun-shy. A goalkeeper that is put in such terrible positions it's impossible to actually judge their performance.
Two moments stick out as indictments of this team in Orlando:
The first one was Adrian Regattin putting the ball out of bounds after Columbus defender Vito Wormgoor went down injured. Regattin had Wormgoor and the keeper in front of him, he dragged the ball back and, as if in an And-1 mixtape, broke Wormgoor's ankles. With only the keeper beat, the ball was passed out of bounds. Good sportsmanship is good an all, but this was a clear indication that this team lacks a killer instinct. There wasn't an idea to go for the goal, or even take a shot. Columbus on the restart then booted the ball down field, the smart play, rather than let FC Cincinnati restart in the attacking third. A demonstration that Columbus wanted to win, Cincinnati didn't.
The second one was the collective collapse of the team after the second goal. The second the ball hit the back of the net, Cincinnati should have just walked off the field. Not a single player cared after that. The fans who did wait up until midnight were treated to a Columbus Crew scrimmage against training cones wearing our city's name.
What makes this entire exercise worse is that the team looked better under Damet. And the team didn't look like world-beaters under Damet. But at least the first two games this year showed progress. This weekend? The progress was undone and then some.
Yes, the Orlando tournament is weird and probably shouldn't have been played. Yes it is hot as hell. Yes it was extremely late at night. But Columbus had to play in those same conditions. And if you can't compare yourself to your rivals who can you compare yourself to? Columbus looked like they played in a division above Cincinnati. In fact I'm confident Bob Lilley's Pittsburgh team would have beat Jaap Stam's Cincinnati team on Saturday. I bet they'd beat them today.
In order for there to be confidence in a system there needs to be results and there needs to be progress. So far there is no progress. Thursday is the team's next chance to show they have what it takes to get a result. Just getting a draw on Thursday would be progress. Forget style. Forget formations. Forget whatever game plan is being worked on in whatever pathetic soccer laboratory our coaching staff continues to reference. Put players on the field that know they need to get a result or their jobs are at risk.
This franchise is at risk.