Van der Werff could make MLS debut in Toronto

With his transfer paperwork completed Friday afternoon, FC Cincinnati’s summer signing Maikel van der Werff was rostered with the Orange and Blue just before Sunday night’s match against the New England Revolution.

On Tuesday morning, Interim Head Coach Yoann Damet talked about his new center back for the first time, and mentioned van der Werff could be available as early as Saturday night at Toronto FC.

“This week is going to be good to determine how fit he is and where he’s at exactly,” Damet said. “I think sometimes when you want to play and your mentality is good, you can match the fitness of the game. So, I expect him to be full go for the next game.”

The 30-year-old Dutchman signed with Cincinnati on July 2, but wasn’t available for selection until Sunday’s match against New England. A single training session before making a league debut the next day was obviously not enough time for him to play. Of course, that could change this weekend in Toronto.

Van der Werff’s arrival from Vitesse is the latest example of FCC’s swing toward a more fluid, possession-dominant playing style. Since Damet became the interim head coach, they switched to a 4-3-3 formation, which the Dutch introduced to international soccer in the 1970s.

Since the formation introduction of the playing philosophy to Cincinnati in mid-May, Dutchmen Gerard Nijkamp was hired as general manager and van der Werff became the first summer signing.

“Maikel is going to bring us his quality to build up from the back, but also as a strong defender who’s difficult to beat and strong in a defensive aspect,” Damet said of the center back. “He’s going to bring us his experience and his leadership at the back, but also his quality on the ball.”

One interesting point to acknowledge is van der Werff arrives at Cincinnati midway through the MLS season and roughly around the time European soccer seasons start.

Vitesse, an Eredivisie club, begin their 2019-20 campaign on Aug. 3 when they host Ajax, the reigning league champions. When FC Cincinnati host Vancouver Whitecaps FC that same day, the Orange and Blue will be 24 matches into their 34-game regular season.

“That’s kind of different,” he said of a mid-season start. “I mean, everyone is top, top fit in the middle of the season. I had a holiday vacation. So, I have to work hard and do something extra after training, but I don’t mind.

“I feel good now and I feel fit. I trained a lot for myself on my holiday. I’ll be ready.”