We’re Gonna Need FC Cincinnati to Go Ahead and Keep Winning

New coach, new approach, and the return of Greg Garza get FCC back into gear.
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I was recently reminded of how awesome the year 1999 was for entertaining movies. The Matrix. Fight Club. Toy Story 2. American Pie. The Mummy. (Don’t you dare laugh at Brendan Fraser!) I could fill up half my word count listing them all, but the one that hit home to me as soon as I got my first job out of college was Office Space. The Ringer’s oral history of the movie revealed some hilarious tidbits, like how Diedrich Bader beat out Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn for the part of Lawrence (and thank heavens he did) and that the Geto Boys, who had two of their songs featured in the movie, reenacted the printer massacre scene during their Office Space-themed tour in 2015.

 

One of the key lessons of the movie is to search for enjoyment in your life and to cling to it dearly, particularly during hopeless periods. Which brings me to last Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium. If there was any group who needed a laugh or simply the comfort of a red Swingline stapler, it was FC Cincinnati following the midweek firing and barbequing of head coach Alan Koch.

Back home at its friendly confines, FC Cincinnati delivered its most inspired showing since March, downing the Montreal Impact 2-1. At least for a day, FCC tabled the bad vibrations and summoned quality soccer. Interim coach Yoann Damet’s influence was clear from the start, and though passes and possession are not what yield consistent points, the increased focus on both proved to be an appropriate elixir for the Orange and Blue’s scoring woes.

FC Cincinnati’s first goal, which snapped a 662-minute stretch sans a score from open play, was the brainchild of a 16-pass buildup, as the hosts started from the onset attempting to play from the back instead of hitting long balls. In fact, Damet’s lot reached their typical volume for passes over a full game after just 45 minutes. FC Cincinnati racked up 66 percent of the possession in the first half and finished the game with 55 percent possession.

FC Cincinnati’s buildup play wasn’t without mistakes, of course. Montreal, coming off a midweek game, failed to adequately pressure FCC until the start of the second half, and they were the better side over the course of the second 45 minutes. The visitors also had a first-half score negated by a questionable offside decision, and a draw was prevented only thanks to a collection of impressive saves by Spencer Richey.

Personnel-wise, FC Cincinnati benefitted from the return of left back Greg Garza, who took the field for the first time in the month. Garza and midfielder Frankie Amaya, the 18-year-old recent No. 1 overall pick, dominated the left side of the field with their pace, technique, and willingness to simply try shit. I’m no formation expert, but FCC appeared to stick to a more of a 4-3-3 on Saturday instead of the 4-4-2 defensive shell that was commonplace under Alan Koch.

Garza came over from defending MLS champion Atlanta in a December trade, and unfortunately he’s fulfilled two of his known qualities: talented and injury-prone. Garza appeared in 42 games for Atlanta in 2017 and 2018, including just 16 games last year. Hopefully the 27-year-old is healthy for good—the fact that he was able to complete 90 minutes after not playing since April 7 is encouraging.

Amaya lasted a single season and 10 games at UCLA, but the midfielder/forward spent a chunk of his freshman year suiting up for the United States in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, too. Leading to the January SuperDraft, Amaya emerged as the favorite to be selected by FC Cincinnati with the first overall pick. FCC did just that, making him the first draft pick in team history. Through April, Amaya had logged just 21 minutes for FC Cincinnati, so he was loaned to USL side Orange County on April 17. He was recalled 15 days later and has started the past two games. He’s fit right in, dispensing needed ball security; despite being listed at 5-foot-4 and 145 pounds, Amaya doesn’t get pushed off the ball and provides a jolt of creativity and attacking verve for FCC.

This Sunday afternoon provides FC Cincinnati with a golden chance at its second-ever winning streak. FCC travels to struggling Orlando City, which is one point above them in the Eastern Conference standings. Another plus for FCC is that, like Montreal, Orlando will have played a midweek contest (they lost in Seattle 2-1 on Wednesday night).

In any case, as long as FC Cincinnati bottles some of their good form from last weekend and heeds the memo about applying proper cover sheets to their TPS reports, they’ll be in good shape this weekend and beyond.

Grant Freking writes FC Cincinnati coverage for Cincinnati Magazine. Off the pitch, he is the associate editor for Signs of the Times magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.

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