BRADENTON, Fla. — When Przemysław Tytoń trotted toward the locker room at halftime, he knew his night was done. Before the game, he was told he’d only play the first half. But less minutes didn’t mean less work.
Throughout the first half of FC Cincinnati’s 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Thursday night at IMG Academy, Tytoń saved his team — literally — from multiple goals conceded after an onslaught of shots.
“I actually said to him at halftime …that was a tough 45 minutes for us as a group, but I’m glad you went through it,” FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch said. “He hasn’t played that much and we want to get him exposed to as many situations as possible.”
Before joining FC Cincinnati as a free agent in the offseason, Tytoń’s last appearance was May 20, 2018 in Spain’s La Liga. He played seven minutes. His last start was Oct. 26, 2017 in a Spanish cup match.
So, when Cincinnati traveled south for its first preseason trip, Koch said Tytoń receiving minutes was a priority. While some players hadn’t played meaningful minutes in a competitive match since last October, the Polish goalkeeper hadn’t since a year before that.
And that’s what made Tytoń’s performance Thursday night stand out. In the first match where he found his goal peppered, he impressed and kept his club in the match.
“He made a few good saves to keep the score close,” Koch said. “If he wasn’t the goalkeeper he is, we would’ve been a few more goals down at halftime.”
Tytoń played 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact in the club’s first preseason match. Three days later, he played 75 minutes before rookie goalkeeper Jimmy Hague replaced him in a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. In the 1-1 draw with D.C. United, Tytoń’s 45 minutes marked his shortest appearance to date, but required the most saves.
Within the first 16 minutes, he already had five saves, which ranged from kick saves and dives to winning the ball in the air. But his best moment came in the 16th minute when D.C. United found space down FC Cincinnati’s left side. As D.C.’s Ulises Segura dribbled toward the goal, fans in attendance grew louder in excitement and anticipation awaiting the game’s first goal. Tytoń, however, used his 6-foot-5 frame and made an outstanding save to push the ball wide.
“It was a first game I got so many shots, which is nice to feel and the ball and competitive,” Tytoń said. “But I know it’s a lot of things to make better still.”
If getting minutes is the goal, there are more opportunities this preseason. After FC Cincinnati returns from Florida on Saturday morning, the team will play Indy Eleven on Tuesday and three additional preseason games in South Carolina before the March 2 MLS season opener.
The objective, though, is making sure Tytoń produces saves, just not as many as against D.C.
“I’m glad he went through it,” Koch said. “I’m not glad from a team perspective, but I’m glad he as an individual went through that because that will help him in terms of getting himself sharp for the season.”