FC Cincinnati

Jaap Stam
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FC Cincinnati’s Stam laughs off unveiling photo gaffe

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CINCINNATI (AP) Oops!

Cincinnati’s Major League Soccer team posted the wrong photo in its tweet announcing the hiring of former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam.

And it wasn’t the first time the coach with a shaved head has been confused with someone else who has the same look.

“It’s happened before, but it was quite a big surprise yesterday,” Stam said Friday.

[ MORE: FC Cincinnati’s Gyau on his remarkable career in Germany ]

The team announced his hiring Thursday on a tweet that mistakenly featured the photo of look-alike Tinus van Teanenbroek, an Ajax youth coach. Cincinnati soon retweeted the announcement with the correct photo, saying, “Join us in welcoming our actual new head coach, Jaap Stam.” The team wrote “actual” in italics.

Stam told the team’s website that he’s thankful for the attention the mistake brought to his hiring. He said he’s accustomed to such mistaken identity.

“A lot of people with no hair, in Holland, sometimes they say, `There’s Jaap!'” he said. “It’s a thing that’s quite normal.”

Other MLS teams picked up on the mistake and tweeted photos of other Stam look-alikes, which he enjoyed.

“Somebody posted it to me, and I can appreciate it as well,” Stam said in a Zoom call with the media Friday. “At a certain time, we need to have a little laugh as well. If we play against each other, if we come out on top by winning those particular games, then we can have a laugh, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Stam replaced Ron Jans, who was forced out in February after a league investigation found he’d used a racial slur in the locker room and made other troubling comments. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the MLS Players Association.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 27 predictions and preview ]

Cincinnati is on its third head coach during its brief stay in the league. As an expansion team last year, it fired Alan Koch after its 11th first-tier match, which left Cincinnati with two wins, seven losses and two draws.

Stam, 47, also has coached in England at Reading (2016-18) as well as in his native Holland at Zwolle (2018-19) and Feyenoord (2019).

A central defender, he won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and the 1999 Champions League with United.

Joe Gyau on life at Hoffenheim, Dortmund, the USMNT, and FC Cincinnati

Joe Gyau
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FC Cincinnati winger Joe Gyau has packed so much into the first 27 years of his life that his career resembles that of a man 10 years his age.

Gyau made his first team debut for Hoffenheim at 19 alongside a 20-year-old Roberto Firmino. His full USMNT debut came three weeks before his Borussia Dortmund debut, when Jurgen Klopp subbed him on for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 27 predictions and preview ]

He tore his meniscus weeks later in his second cap for Jurgen Klinsmann, and battled two years to get back onto the field. Gyau went to the 3.Liga then back to 2.Bundesliga before relegation saw him make a move back home to Major League Soccer.

What we’re saying is it takes a lot to surprise him. The match that sealed Duisburg’s relegation to 3.Liga last season did just that.

So begins our conversation with Gyau.

ProSoccerTalk: A little background for the reader. You and I connected because I was headed to Germany with a soccer team and we had tickets for the Duisburg-Heidenheim match. I thought it would be neat for them to meet an American who’d made it to the top level and you were cool enough to agree to it, even inviting us to training.

This was months beforehand, and Duisburg was unbeaten in four matches. By the time we got to Germany, losing the match would’ve meant relegation. It was a sensational game, but Duisburg lost 4-3 and we witnessed an incredibly intense ending where fans were screaming across the pitch at players, beating sticks against the barriers that kept them from getting onto the field.

Understandably we didn’t meet. What was that like?

Joe Gyau: “Being in a relegation battle is one of the most pressured, anxious feelings that you have. You know that week-in week-out, for the well being of the club you’ve gotta get some points. Going into that game, we had won against Holstein Kiel 2-0 away. We knew if we won, we still had a chance. We left it all out there. Obviously the fans are heated. We had to go there to show them appreciation for supporting us. We had to show face out of respect. But that situation being in the 2.Bundesliga or Bundesliga is bragging rights for the city. The people felt like we let them down. They let us know that. They were screaming. They were mad. Some of the players felt attacked and they lashed out at the fans. It got really hectic.”

PST: That’s the point where, honestly, I was worried. The supporters were still packed in there, chanting in the players’ direction. A few fans hopped over the barrier and the ones in the stands were shaking the poles that hold up the protective netting (around the 4:20 mark of this video). What are you thinking at that point?

Gyau: “When I was walking over, I knew they were pissed. You know they’re really passionate about everything. For some people the club is their life, you know? They go to the stadium every weekend. And they felt like us getting relegated was them losing a big chunk of themselves. Walking over there, I recognized some of the fans from our training ground to watch practice. It’s funny how nice they were at the training ground compared to the cuss words then. I wouldn’t say I was scared, but it was shocking to see how enraged they were. Then in the locker room, it was just dead silent. Everybody’s got their heads down. The president, the coach, the general manager, they’re in the locker room and everybody’s quiet.”

PST: Duisburg has been the class of 3.Liga this year and looks to be getting promoted straightaway. Have you been pulling for them? And do you generally root for your former clubs?

Gyau: “(With Duisburg) There’s no bitterness at all. They had a great season this season. I still have friends that play there and we still talk. To see them get back in there is bittersweet with what happened in Copa 19, but that’s good for them. In Hamburg (on loan to FC St. Pauli). I met lifelong friends. At Dortmund I had the best moments of my career, and I was at Hoffenheim for four years. You could say that’s where I grew up. Germany is my second home. My wife’s from there.”

PST: Knowing that, and with an experienced career and name over there, why did you decide to come back to the United States and FC Cincinnati?

Gyau: “After being away for so long, my late teenage years and most of my 20s, I just wanted to switch things up and give my people over here a chance to see me a little bit closer (Gyau was born in Florida and grew up in Maryland). I was also at a good enough age that I could transfer markets.”

PST: I’m always impressed by the guys who come off a European season and then jump right into an MLS stretch run. I know there was a little break between 2.Bundesliga and your August debut, but what were your first impressions?

Gyau: “It was a short break because that summer I was with the national team. I typically keep myself in pretty good shape but getting right back into games I definitely needed a week or two. It was definitely a different style of play. It was a more open game, a little less tactical than I was used to in the Bundesliga. There was more space and I kinda liked that. There’s a lot of Central and South Americans as opposed to a lot more of a European-based pool.”

PST: I’m glad you brought up the call-up. After dozens of youth national team appearances, we saw you make your USMNT debut for Jurgen Klinsmann in impressive fashion versus the Czech Republic 2014, then suffer an awful knee injury in your second cap. There were multiple surgeries and grueling rehab. Then you get back into the fold with Gregg Berhalter against Jamaica in 2019.

Gyau: “It was a great moment, just getting that call. It kind of put the cherry on top of everything because that was one of my main goals after my injury was to get back to where I was. The two years, that whole process of rehab, was an unforgiving process. Getting that cap was the reward and it was great to revel in the moment. The game was in DC where I’m from and my whole family was able to come.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

PST: Let’s go back to the start. You signed for Hoffenheim at age 17. Your father and grandfather were both professional players, so you had some advice and expertise to lean on. What made you choose Hoffenheim?

Gyau with Ryan Babel and Sandro Wieser at Hoffenheim (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images).

Gyau: “Germany was the first league that gave me a really concrete offer. I had gone and tried out at Chelsea before, but I was like 13 and my whole family would’ve had to relocate. Hoffenheim came at the right time. I was 17, able to be on my own, and I always wanted to play in Europe.”

PST: Hoffenheim was a loaded side, even simply by ‘Americans abroad’ standards. You subbed on for Fabian Johnson for your first appearance and Danny Williams was on the pitch at center midfielder. You’ve played with and against a lot of stars. Who stands out the most in terms of the wow factor.

Gyau: “When I was at Hoffenheim. Ryan Babel was an absolute monster when he was just coming off his time at Liverpool. And then I got to play with Firmino when he first came from Brazil. You could see his raw talent and as it became more refined where the flicks and tricks started working in the game. Aubameyang at Dortmund was a monster. Mkhitaryan as well, I was there for one of his best seasons. And for the national team, just being able to link up with Jozy Altidore was a great thing.”

PST: What makes those players so special? Everyone at that level is good, but what makes those players pop?

Gyau: “It’s about work ethic, confidence, and positive reinforcement. I’ve come across lots of players who have equal amounts of talent but maybe the situation with the coach isn’t great. The coach was behind Firmino 100 percent, at Dortmund the same for Aubameyang. You could see it.

“When (Aubameyang) first came to Dortmund he was playing on the wing cause Lewandowski was still there. He was still scoring and doing his thing, but it wasn’t what you see now. After Lewandowski left, that’s right when I came. They put him up top. Marco Reus would be behind him or Mkhitaryan and that’s when most of the plays would end up around him and he was always a natural finisher. He came into his own, and Jurgen Klopp always gave him the positive reinforcement to be able to excel. The guys always had it, but the reps and the experience pushed them to the next level.”

Joe Gyau
Gyau (right) with Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Photo by Team 2 Sportphoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

PST: Surely you’re tired of being asked about Klopp, but we all hear the Liverpool players raving about him. Does that match with your experience with him at Dortmund?

Gyau: “Man, just getting to know the guy, that’s the player’s ideal coach. For me, I was working with him and (now Schalke boss) David Wagner. Both of them were personable guys. They took me under their wing. They give you free reign. They still had their system but they let players express themselves. They let you work the way you work within their system. If you work hard, they are always going to be behind them. It’s one of those things where you go out on the field and you want to give 100 percent because you see how genuine they are and Klopp was really genuine.

“I remember when I got my first cap against Czech Republic, Klopp called everybody in the locker room and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got young player Joseph here, he made his international debut and had a great game.’ Everybody gave me a round of applause.

“After I got hurt he called me into his office. He knew that I was devastated and he said, ‘Hey I know the doctor didn’t give you good news but just know I’m behind you 100 percent. Whenever you come back I’ll be waiting for you. We’ll be ready. It was comforting because a coach doesn’t have to say that, especially to a young guy coming up. You don’t have to take him into your office and give him any type of reassurance but he took his time to do that.”

PST: You’ve also spent time in recent years with Sonnenhof Großaspach in 3.Liga and on loan from Hoffenheim a while back with FC St. Pauli. The latter is known for being a different kind of club. What do you recall from then?

Gyau: “Probably one of the best times I had in my career. Hamburg as a city is great but the club, the people, the stadium, the fans, they have their own progressive views. The support that you get game-in and game-out. The history behind it. You have St. Pauli and then HSV. The city is split in half and if you’re on that St. Pauli side, they love you. I’m 19, 20 at the time playing at the Millerntor. No matter you’re winning or losing the fans are cheering you on and positive.

“Not every club has that type of tradition that atmosphere. I remember there were times during the season where there was an amusement park outside the stadium. The Hamburger Dome. We’d be playing a game and before the game there was a roller coaster and people are going crazy. Then they come in for the game and afterwards the amusement park is rocking again. Then you have the Reeperbahn, and the restaurants. It’s just a buzzing city.”

Joe Gyau
(Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/GettyImages)

PST: Wrapping up, FC Cincinnati has a year under its belts and you had a full offseason plus additions of Siem de Jong, Yuya Kubo, and Jurgen Locadia. How are you feeling the club will look once it’s back to playing soccer?

Edit: FCC announced the hiring of Jaap Stam a day after this conversation.

Gyau: “We definitely have a real talented team this year and we’ve been given a chance to mold together. We had a couple late transfers. We’re not able to train full team yet but everyone’s able to grasp the philosophy behind the club all at once. Playing with Locadia, that dude can strike it with both feet, he’s mobile. We have a good group of guys, a good balance. I’m excited to get back when things get back rolling. And the fans here are also crazy. Our last game against Orlando, or when we played against Columbus, it’s 20,000 fans every game. It’s good to jump from getting a lot of fans in Germany right into the same atmosphere.”

PST: What’s the biggest difference you’ve noted since you’ve arrived in MLS?

Gyau: “In Germany it’s more strict. The fans really critique things so much harder than they do over here. The fans here are hoping to see a good game and ready to have fun. You would never see what happened in Duisburg happen over here. You wouldn’t see fans spitting on people, and it’s totally different style of play. They make the field so compact in Germany.”

Jaap Stam named new FC Cincinnati head coach

Jaap Stam
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Dutch legend Jaap Stam has been named the new head coach of FC Cincinnati in Major League Soccer, which was first reported by Pat Brennan of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Ohio club unveiled Stam as their new boss and he said he’s “delighted to be part of the big family” at FC Cincinnati.

Stam, 47, and replaces former FCC coach Ron Jans who resigned amid an investigation into alleged racist behavior as Yoann Demet had been the interim head coach since Feb. 17.

FC Cincinnati’s GM, Gerard Nijkamp, worked with Stam at PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands during the 2018-19 season.

“I know it is a very big project and everybody is very excited to do very well and get the maximum out of everything we are doing,” Stam said. “That’s how I am as a person as well. We like to set records, win games and hopefully win trophies as well. Eventually, with all the steps the club has already been making, I think I can do my part to [help] with this as well. Hopefully together with all the fans we can make this a big and nice story.”

The 2020 MLS season is currently suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic and a plan has been put in place for all 26 clubs to play in Orlando, Florida from June.

Following on from Alan Koch and Jans, Jaap Stam would become the third head coach in FC Cincinnati’s MLS history as they joined the league for the 2019 season.

The former Man United, Lazio and AC Milan star has had a topsy-turvy coaching career but he has shown promise developing young players and most of his jobs so far have been at clubs with strict financial restrictions.

At Reading he turned a young group of players into an attacking, fluid side who lost to Huddersfield Town on penalty kicks in the Championship playoff final in 2016-17 and many believed they would have been better suited to playing in the Premier League had they prevailed in the final.

Stam then landed at PEC Zwolle and Feyenoord in his homeland but he lasted just five months at the latter as the Dutch giants had an awful start to the 2019-20 season with three wins from their opening 11 games.

It will be intriguing to see how he fares in MLS and there’s no doubt there’s a lot of work to do at FC Cincinnati on the pitch. With several coaches building their MLS roster and changes throughout the organization, FC Cincy finished rock bottom of the MLS standings in their inaugural season.

Off the pitch things are very healthy in Cincy as their new $200 million stadium in West End is taking shape and their fanbase remains one of the most dedicated and passion in the American soccer landscape.

Stam’s coaching philosophy means that anybody watching FC Cincinnati should expect plenty of play out from the back and a total-football approach. His former Dutch teammate Frank de Boer has proven that can work in MLS with Atalanta United but it will take time for that philosophy to prevail.

This is an ambitious hire by FC Cincinnati and they need to give Stam time to settle in MLS.

Report: Cincinnati eyes ex-Man Utd star Stam, MLS mainstay Kinnear

FC Cincinnati
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FC Cincinnati has at least two candidates to fill its vacant head coaching position, household names on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Jaap Stam and Dominic Kinnear are in frame for the position, writes The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Stam’s held three first team managerial posts since his tremendous playing career. The 67-times Netherlands international back played for Manchester United, Lazio, and PSV Eindhoven during a glittering career that saw him win UEFA Defender of the Year for United in 1998/99 and 1999/2000.

In management, Stam oversaw Football League Championship side Reading before taking the reins at Eredivisie sides PEC Zwolle and Feyenoord.

Kinnear began his career in the United States and was capped 54 times during a career mostly spent domestically but also in Mexico and Scotland. His management career saw him win back-to-back MLS Cups with Houston and he’s been an assistant with the Galaxy since San Jose fired him in 2017.

Yoann Damet is currently in his second stint as FCC interim coach, having assisted the club’s first two MLS managers in Alan Koch and Ron Jans.

Brighton, Cincinnati prepare to discuss Locadia’s future

Jurgen Locadia
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Jurgen Locadia’s big MLS transfer has not gone as planned, through no fault of his, FC Cincinnati’s, or parent club Brighton and Hove Albion.

Locadia’s loan to Cincinnati was sealed Feb. 3, giving him just under five months to decide whether he had interesting in staying in the U.S. for the next part of his career.

The 26-year-old got all of two matches to feel it out, scoring once before MLS shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The extremely small sample size has been kind to Locadia, who says that his agent had spoken to Brighton and that he’s open to making the move permanent. That’s a loaded statement given the money it might take to acquire a player who was Brighton’s transfer record signing just over a year ago.

“I like it here so far in Cincinnati and the league also,” Locadia told The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com: “I talk with my agent also and he said at the end of the day it’s my decision, and I told him I’m happy here, so if we can figure something out with Brighton and Cincinnati, which I understand is going to be difficult, we can try and fix the situation.”

FCC general manager Gerard Nijkamp said he’ll be talking with Brighton in the next few days, but that the situation is a massive challenge. Imagine the questions: What does Brighton want? When can the player move? Has the end of the loan window changed at all? And what reinforcements will Brighton be able to buy given the wildly unusual conclusion to this season (and their possible relegation)?

Locadia was also asked what he likes about MLS.

“I think here in the States, the fans enjoy the game more and in Europe I get the feeling that people are more judge-y about the game,” Locadia said. “Here in the States, they come to enjoy the game and see the players and drink beer. And in Europe it’s more like, we need to win and they’re gonna judge you. They don’t like when you play the ball back to the goalkeeper.”

Well, maybe wait on that one. There might be a bit more patience in Cincinnati given it’s their second year in MLS, but other clubs have plenty of fans amped up for victory.