The swarm started once the game ended.
As the match official blew his whistle for the final time, the FC Cincinnati coaching staff surrounded Yoann Damet to form a mass of bodies jumping in celebration.
Considering the recent unease around the team’s recent results, that moment, even if it lasted a handful of seconds, was a beautiful sight to behold.
FC Cincinnati beat the Montreal Impact 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium in a performance that included some beauty and ugliness, but most of all, conviction.
With the win, the club snapped a five-game losing streak and scored its first goal in over a month. That was a reason to celebrate, too.
But there was another reason: Damet.
On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati dismissed Alan Koch as head coach. On Wednesday, Damet took over as the interim head coach and pledged he’d do whatever he could to help his players produce quality.
Questions were asked if he was right for the job? After all, this is his first time coaching first-team players. Did he have enough experience? At 29 years old, he’s the youngest coach in MLS history.
Damet answered the questions the best he could. But really, those questions answered themselves Saturday afternoon.
Cincinnati delivered one of its best performances this season. The two goals came from long passing sequences that saw the Orange and Blue problem solve, exploit open space and punish the visitors, who were third in the Eastern Conference before the game.
The match was as pretty as it was relieving for FCC, a club that entered the fixture needing something to smile about and ended it after a two-hour party.
“I’m satisfied, but I’m satisfied for the players, not for myself,” Damet said. “The message that I delivered in the beginning of the week, is in my sense the most important, the most important pieces are the players.
“You want to provide an environment that allows them to express themselves, and the players showed tonight that they are capable of playing football. We asked them to believe in themselves, to have confidence, and the satisfaction is for them. They fully deserve the credit for the performance of this afternoon.”
They do and they will get credit, but Damet needs some, too.
Before joining FC Cincinnati in March 2017, Damet spent three seasons working for Montreal. Some of his tasks included creating the Pre-Academy programs from the Under-8 through Under-12 age groups as the Impact’s Pre-Academy Coordinator. Later, he helped with older youth teams and eventually became the team’s U-18 head coach.
On Saturday, he out-coached his old club.
That’s a significant achievement, but one Damet didn’t want to talk about. Instead, his post-game interview focused exclusively on his players. They were the ones who learned a new system in three days and used it to beat an opponent; they were the ones to snap the scoring drought and losing streak.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the players,” he said. “I believe that the players are the players to play that way, and to accomplish and achieve what we expect them to do.”
True, but Damet and the coaching staff completely rewrote how they wanted to play and found success doing so.
Even if that’s not a weekly occurrence, Saturday reminded FC Cincinnati players, the coaching staff and the fans alike that this team has serious potential. Things won’t get easier anytime soon, but the win proved they can get better.
Damet can only be the youngest coach in MLS history once. Saturday was that once. And on a day when his team needed a win more than every before, he delivered the result, and reminded the Impact what they’re missing during the process.