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Inside Preseason: Mokotjo and Matarrita

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo and Defender Ronald Matarrita joined members of the media Thursday to discuss their first preseason with FC CincinnatI and manager Jaap Stam.

Kamohelo Mokotjo joined FC Cincinnati in latter half of last season. The South African international was signed from English Championship side Brentford and appeared in 9 matches for FCC. The 2020 season was a challenge for most, but especially for Mokotjo. After being sidelined for 9 months with a knee injury, he was transferred to a new league, in a new country, during a pandemic.

Though he was signed in August, he didn’t feature in a match until October. While those 9 matches helped him, he says he’s still adjusting to the new league and club. “I feel fortunate to get some playing time and to understand what the league was like. This is a league that has a lot of speed and you have to be fit to maintain a high level.” The defensive midfielder (who turned 30 Thursday) said he’s also excited to have a preseason with his team, and especially the new additions. “I’m very excited, credit to the club for the players that they’ve brought in. I’m looking forward to working with them.” He said. ”Last season, there were good spells, but we knew we could improve. I believe the new players that have come in will make the club stronger.” Kamohelo spoke to how excited and thankful he is to have a preseason with the club and his Coach. “Just having a preseason with help us a lot, chemistry with other players. The coach is very detail oriented. That helps, because any player wants to know exactly what they need to do.” He also spoke to Jaap Stam‘s coaching style. “Everyone knows he’s a hard coach, he wants us to play total football, exciting football, football that is results oriented.” “Kamo” as he’s called by fans, had a message for FCC supporters. “The fans can look forward to a very good season.”

While Mokotjo looks to continue to adapt to a new league, Ronald Matarrita is right at home in MLS. One of the biggest signings in this very busy offseason, Matarrita looks to hit the ground running. Signed from NYFC in December, Matarrita brings big time MLS pedigree. Thought of as a top defender in MLS, Ronald comes to shore up a defense that struggled under constant pressure last season. The club‘s lack of fluid attack meant that the defense was under fire often. Matarrita has shown that he can help in both aspects. The Costa Rican international likes to push forward and link up with the attack. That style of play should fit well with Jaap Stam’s “Total football” philosophy. The star left back had this to say through an interpreter, “I’m super happy with how it’s been going. Now that I’ve met the coaching staff and the my teammates, its been very easy to transition into the team.” When asked what he thought about coming to FC Cincinnati, Matarrita said a talk with the coach excited him. “The project was interesting, I talked to the head coach (Stam) and he explained to me what he wanted from me, and thats all I needed.”

Matarrita comes from a NYFC club that has made the playoffs every year he was there. When asked about his opinion on the quality to his new club, he mentioned the exciting moves being made. “The team has made some interesting transactions, we’ve added a lot of great talent. Now we just have to get that chemistry.” Among those additions, “Mata” had a glowing review of new blockbuster signing Brenner from Brazil. “Brenner is a great player, and he’s also a great person. We’re very excited to see what he can bring to this team.”

Caoch Jaap Stam was is a legendary defender for giant clubs like Manchester United, Ajax and AC Milan. When asked what it’s like as a defender, to be managed by one of the greatest. Ronald had this to say about his new coach, “He’s a very direct person. When he’s talking to you, he looks straight into your eyes and he’s very blunt. That is something that I love. He makes it easy for us to learn and understand with the game plan is” he said. “He was a very successful player, that makes it very easy to for us to buy into what he’s telling us. Whatever he‘s telling me to do on the field, I’m going to do my best to apply that. If we all listen to him, we can do great things in this league.”

Over the course fo the preseason, I’ll be updating you regularly. So far it seems evident that this preseason FC Cincinnati is focused, excited and optimistic. This club WILL be better. At the forefront of that is the strong leadership of manager Jaap Stam. Player‘s seem to respect and appreciate his coaching style. They’ve seemed to buy into his philosophy and style of play. All this points to a exciting season for FC Cincy fans.

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