Alan Koch

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FC Cincinnati fires head coach Koch after brutal April

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FC Cincinnati announced on Tuesday that it has fired head coach Alan Koch after a brutal start to its first season in Major League Soccer, with just two wins in its first 11 matches, leaving them 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Not only did the team make the change after poor results on the field, but the club took it a step further, citing locker room issues that led to the dismissal.

“After a series of recent issues and a team culture that had deteriorated, we determined that it’s time to make a change to return a club-centered focus to the team,” FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding said in the official team release announcing the news.

FC Cincinnati actually started its inaugural MLS season positively, winning two and drawing one over its first four matches. Since, however, the club has fallen on tough times, losing six of its last seven and collecting just a single point in that span. They have lost five matches in a row, all without scoring a single goal. Berding took aim at Koch for the team’s failures to this point, blaming him for failing to utilize the roster effectively.

“This decision is not driven by recent game results themselves, but rather the underpinnings that have led to those results,” Berding said. “We have not come close to maximizing the talent we have in the dressing room this year, nor have we seen a foundation being built that will set us up for success this year and into next year. Our whole locker room is committed to our club goal of earning an MLS postseason bid, and we need to put them in the best position to do so.”

According to MLS reporter Franco Panzio, a number of players said they were being played at unnatural positions and insinuated there was growing discontent over the tactics on the field.

Koch started as FC Cincinnati boss in early 2017, helping see the club to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup in his first season in charge, topping both the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew in that run. He won USL Coach of the Year in 2018 and stayed on with the club after the club earned MLS expansion.

The club release confirmed that assistant coach Yoann Damet will take over on an interim basis.

FC Cincinnati buys Caleb Stanko from Bundesliga’s Freiburg

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FC Cincinnati has added another tool to its MLS expansion workshop, and this one carries an extra amount of intrigue.

American soccer fans have seen very little of 25-year-old Caleb Stanko aside from a 19-minute cameo for the USMNT in World Cup qualifying.

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A defensive midfielder with experience at center back and playing on the right, Stanko has battled injuries during his time with German side Freiburg. He made six Bundesliga appearances in 2017-18, a year after going on loan to Swiss side Vaduz.

Stanko hails from Michigan, and joins a list of impressive additions that includes Allan Cruz, Alvas Powell, and Kendall Waston. From FCCincinnati.com:

“We are happy to add Caleb to our roster,” FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch said. “We look for versatility in our central midfielders and we feel he can fill a number of roles depending on the personnel we have on the pitch. We look forward to Caleb competing immediately within our group.”

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over FC Cincinnati’s roster build-out by those fearing that the new MLS club could go the way of Minnesota United in thinking its USL players would be enough for Major League Soccer.

Turns out there was a lot more time left in the offseason.