FC Cincinnati continue MLS is Back Tournament group stage play on Thursday morning when they face Atlanta United FC. Yes, the 9 a.m. kickoff is the earliest in club history.
After a disappointing result in last Saturday’s derby, the Orange and Blue are looking for a positive response against the last team they faced before MLS suspended the regular season on March 12. FCC lost, 2-1, to Atlanta on March 7.
These are the main storylines entering Thursday morning’s matchup:
How will the teams respond?
FC Cincinnati enter the game wanting a positive response after losing to Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night. It was hardly the result head coach Jaap Stam wanted on his coaching debut, but he said it’s going to take time to build the club and earn results.
“We want to do things very quick, very fast, but that’s not going to happen most of the time,” Stam said on Monday. “We need to get more out of (the performances). Instead of playing well for 20 minutes, we want to go 45, 50, 60 and, if possible, 95 minutes.”
So, how will FCC look against Atlanta United?
Atlanta enter this match having lost their tournament opener as well. The Five Stripes lost to the New York Red Bulls, 1-0, on Saturday.
Remember: MLS is Back Tournament group stage matches count toward the final regular season standings.
An opportunity to reiterate improvement
In the leadup to this tournament, FCC players and coaches said practices were intense and players looked sharp. But then when Cincinnati faced Columbus, the match showed there’s more work to do.
Can Cincinnati keep the positive momentum it had before the derby loss?
The biggest takeaway from this tournament for the Orange and Blue is how do they look implementing Stam’s tactics. A matchup against Atlanta, one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, isn’t an easy task, but it could lead to momentum to build upon.
Stam vs. de Boer
Stam and Atlanta coach Frank de Boer were teammates on the Dutch national team and worked together as coaches at Ajax Amsterdam. While de Boer coached the first team, which was captained by Siem de Jong, Stam coached reserve side Jong Ajax before leaving for Reading in the English Championship. Stam also served on de Boer’s coaching staff during Ajax’s 2013-14 Eredivisie campaign.
Stam said there isn’t a big relationship between the two off the field, but it’ll be interesting to see the tactics both teams implement. Cincinnati used a 4-3-3
last match, while Atlanta regularly uses a 3-4-3.
On Tuesday afternoon, de Boer said to expect midfield changes ahead of the game for the Five Stripes.
FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United FC
Kickoff: Thursday, 9 a.m.
Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports (Orlando, Fla.)
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 83 degrees. (79% humidity)
Broadcast Stream Info: ESPN and WatchESPN
- Greg Garza played two seasons with Atlanta United FC in 2017 and 2018, making 37 appearances. Garza helped the club win the MLS Cup in 2018.
- Brandon Vazquez played for Atlanta from 2017-2019, accumulating 31 appearances and three goals. Vazquez helped the club win the MLS Cup in 2018.
- Rashawn Dally played with Mo Adams and Lagos Kunga in 2019 with Memphis 901 FC. All three were on loan.
- Adam Jahn played with two FCC players at two different clubs. Fatai Alashe and Jahn were on the San Jose Earthquakes in 2015 and 2016, while Kekuta Manneh and John played for Columbus Crew SC in 2017.
- Austin Berry, FCC’s strength and conditioning coach, played with Jeff Larentowicz on the Chicago Fire in 2013.
- Saad Abdul-Salaam and Alec Kann were at Sporting Kansas City in 2016.
- Frankie Amaya and Andrew Carleton both played for the U.S. Under-20 National Team in 2019.
- Garza, Joseph-Claude Gyau and Emerson Hydnman all played for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2015.
- Tommy McCabe and Jon Gallagher played for the University of Notre Dame together in 2016 and 2017.
- Between 2010-14, Siem de Jong played for Frank de Boer at Ajax
- Jaap Stam and de Boer both played together for the Dutch national team before both working at Ajax from 2013-16.