FC Cincinnati is out of the cellar. Can they stay out?
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
With their (2-0) win over Toronto on Saturday, Fc Cincinnati has done something that they haven’t done since joining MLS. They’ve distanced themselves from last place. FCC are now sitting at 11th in the standings, but more important than the positioning, they’ve shown that they are no longer the worst team in the league. While wins over Chicago and Toronto may not spark much optimism in some, loses against those teams would have been catastrophic. The two wins, prove that improvements have been made and that another wooden spoon, while still possible, is far from certainty. After all, for a team that as struggled as much as Fc Cincy has, the first step towards first place, is out of last place.
Saturday’s match was no doubt a shot in the arm for this club. There were occurrences Saturday that have been rare for FCC. For the first time in ages, they took a two goal lead and protected it. This season, when they’ve scored first, FCC has played much or all of the rest of the match on the back foot. To be sure, there was a stretch of momentum for Toronto. They had their opportunities, but when Luciano Acosta scored his beautiful goal, it took the fight right out of them.
As Fc Cincinnati step out of the darkness of the cellar and into the light, the real question is… Can they stay there? Sometimes the light can be too bright.
So where do they go from here? FCC’s next match against the Houston Dynamo (3-5-3) will be more of a test. The Dynamo currently sit at 6th in the West with 14 pts. To Fc Cincy they perfectly represent “the next step.” While definitely not amongst the best in MLS, they are clearly better than Chicago or Toronto. A result on Saturday, on the road in Texas would confirm that Cincy are ready to actually compete in this league.
Saturday’s match also marked that last time we’ll see forward Jurgen Locadia in Orange and Blue. We’ve known for some time that FCC was not going to exercise the purchase option in Locadia’s loan, but there was a small chance that a deal could still have been made. That was not the case however, as Fc Cincinnati made an announcement Saturday night thanking Loca.
"It was a experience! I want to thank the technical staff, medical staff and the players as well!. Good luck in y’all journey to winning more games! Its been a honor to play for the 26.000 fans. I know I didn’t deliver what I normally would deliver, so my apologies! It was hard being away from my loved ones as well! At the end of the day I will leave with my head up! Thank you."
With Locadia moving on, and presumably other players leaving as well, the team will have some open roster spots to fill. Specifically a DP spot. The Summer transfer window opens on July 7th. Transfer rumors have been minimal (much to Nijkamp’s liking) so far this season. It’s an opportunity for teams to fill the gaps in their rosters. It’s also a chance for teams to make a push at competing for the playoffs. Fc Cincinnati plan on being one of those teams.
GM Gerard Nijkamp has said that he would like to add a true “Box to Box“ midfielder. It’s a spot that has been one of the club’s weaknesses this season. While Allan Cruz and Yuya Kubo have stepped up and played the No. 6 and No. 8 admirably, at least in the last few matches. An improvement there is necessary. While the team had two goals in the run of play Saturday, the attack is still missing something. Brenner and Acosta have been forced to drop back often and help get the attack started. Perhaps a DP or TAM No. 8 would alleviate that and let them spend more time in dangerous positions.
While Nijkamp had also stated a need at Centerback, the rest of the transfer window is a mystery. It makes for an exciting time to be an Fc Cincinnati supporter. The back to back wins have put FCC in a position to make a real push at the middle of the pack. You would think that we should hear something not long after the window opens, as Nijkamp should have a move already in line.
With the recent success, and the opportunity to improve on the horizon, it’s fun to be an Fc Cincy supporter again. It’s makes you want to cling to this feeling and never let go. For the first time we have a sign that things may be getting better. A reason to hope.
We’ve been here before, and we know all too well that the phase “It’s the Hope that kills you” can be true, but like the great Ted Lasso said “It’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you.”
The frustrations may still linger for some, and thes cries of Stam and Nijkamp out are still there. But even those people must admit, the club is finally giving us reason to BELIEVE.
By: Rob Burkhardt