FC Cincinnati

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FC Cincinnati hires first general manager

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One year into FC Cincinnati’s Major League Soccer voyage, it’s added another first to a long line of them: First general manager.

The name is Gerard Nijkamp, who was most notably the director of football at Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle before spending some time in Qatar.

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His resume with the Dutch side is solid, via FCCincinnati.com:

While in Zwolle, Nijkamp guided the club to a semifinal showing in the KNVB Cup (Dutch Cup) his first year, before winning it outright in his second season in 2013-14 and gaining a 2014-15 UEFA Europa League berth. That season they also won the 2014 Johan Cruyff Cup (Dutch Super Cup). While achieving PEC Zwolle’s best-ever Eredivisie finish (sixth) in 2014-15, the club also earned a berth in the Dutch Cup final. The club earned finishes in the top half of the Eredivisie table in 2015-16 (eighth) and 2017-18 (ninth).

Nijkamp’s priority will be finding the club’s next full-time manager, as Yoann Damet has been shepherding the club in an interim role since Alan Kock was fired early this season.

FCC started 2-2-2 but has won just one of its last 10 matches and sits seven points back of a playoff spot.

Nani scores twice as Orlando City thrashes FC Cincinnati

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Nani may not be the star he once was while he played for Manchester United, but he’s still making a powerful impact in MLS.

The Portuguese international scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season as Orlando City ran circles expansion side FC Cincinnati, winning 5-1. Along with Nani, Tesho Akindele scored a brace and Dom Dwyer came off the bench and scored a header in the win.

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Aside from having a chance to record a big win over a struggling side, Orlando City may have been ultra motivated on Sunday. Orlando City manager James O’Connor has history with FC Cincinnati from his time at Louisville City, with intense rivalry matches taking place as well as arguments between O’Connor and former FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch on the sidelines.

FC Cincinnati actually went up early with a Darren Mattocks finish past Brian Rowe, but it didn’t take long for Orlando City to respond. Akindele fired home from 20-yards out in the 37th minute to make it 1-1. Early in the second half, Nani scored on a penalty kick rebound to make it 2-1 to the hosts, and then he added a second off a cross from the right to blast the game wide open.

With the win, Orlando City moved just one point outside of a playoff place, while Cincinnati remains in the basement of the Eastern Conference. However, Orlando City has a difficult road ahead, with matches against the LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact and D.C. United to come.

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.

Busio scores again, Zelalem starts as Sporting KC ties FC Cincinnati

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Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes rotated his squad for its match at FC Cincinnati, and it paid off in a point on the road.

One of the stars of the show was 16-year-old Gianluca Busio, who looked calm and composed in his central midfield role on the ball and even came away with a goal, even though it was a bit of a gift after a mixup by FC Cincinnati’s defense. In addition, Gedion Zelalem made his MLS debut starting in Sporting KC colors, going 57 minutes alongside Busio as Zelalem builds match fitness. Busio’s goal set a new MLS record for the teenager.

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Busio’s goal cancelled out Darren Mattocks’ first half penalty kick, and the MLS expansion side had multiple chances in the second half on counter attacks to pull out all three points.

Cincinnati took the early lead in the 19th minute after Roland Lamah was taken down in the penalty area. Darren Mattocks stepped up and sent Adrian Zendejas the wrong way to give the hosts the lead. It was Mattocks’ first of the season and seemed to give him an added boost of confidence.

Both teams had chances to score later in the half, with Kelyn Rowe missing a great opportunity in the box and Mattocks blasting a strike off the post.

In the second half, Kekuta Manneh was put through on goal but put his shot wide, and Cincinnati was made to pay. With the ball off on the left wing, Busio made a run through the middle of the park and was nearly picked out by Rowe. However, with Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey and left back Greg Garza approaching the ball, the two collided and failed to clear the ball, leaving Busio to finish into an empty net.

In a game that finished at 1-1, it will be remembered by both sides for all the missed changes to both. One of the other bright spots, related to the U.S. Men’s National Team, was the play of Kenny Saief. In his first start since joining FC Cincinnati, the American-born, Israeli-raised attacker floated into the middle from the wing and dribbled at defenders, creating plenty of chances for Cincinnati in the attacking third.

Ultimately though, it was Busio who stole the show. Just 16, it’s a bright sign for the future for both Sporting KC and the USMNT as he develops in the professional game.

Saief, Manneh extend FC Cincinnati’s impressive start

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FC Cincinnati looks like it isn’t the walkover many experts were predicting it’d be, extending its unbeaten run to three matches with a 2-0 win over defense-free New England on Sunday.

Kekuta Manneh and Kenny Saief set each other up for goals as the expansion side moved to 2-1-1 through four matches.

Brad Friedel‘s New England now has one point through four matches.

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Teal Bunbury nearly took advantage of slow-to-react-at-the-back Cincinnati but punched a wide-open look way over the frame.

And after Emmanuel Ledesma just missed with a few bids from distance, FCC made his threats proper foreshadowing albeit from in-tight.

USMNT winger Kenny Saief slotted ball into the mixer that Manneh slotted for 1-0 before halftime.

Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey made a pair of outstanding stops on Carles Gil and Diego Fagundez around the hour mark to keep the advantage in tact.

Saief made it 2-0 in the 65th minute, a disorganized Revolution losing track of the former Anderlecht man.