Stepping into a match seconds after your side allowed its second goal in five minutes is hardly ideal, but it certainly wasn’t any less meaningful for Roland Lamah.
The former Belgium international made his first appearance since June 6 on Thursday night in FC Cincinnati’s 4-1 loss to D.C. United at Nippert Stadium. Lamah had missed time because of a hamstring injury he suffered against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium last month.
“(My return) was good, but sad for the result,” the winger said Thursday night. “After six weeks now, I’m happy to get back, but not with the result.”
Entering the match in the 65th minute for Emmanuel Ledesma, Lamah finished the game with 14 touches and 10 passes with an 80% passing accuracy.
“Being off the field for a long time is never easy for a player, so being able to give him some minutes was important,” Interim Head Coach Yoann Damet said. “His performance was good.
“Obviously, when you lose, it’s difficult to say that the performance was good enough, but there were some good things and I am happy with that and we need to keep building off that.”
Picked third by Cincinnati in the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, Lamah had been an integral part of the Orange and Blue lineup before his hamstring injury in New York.
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When Lamah got injured, that was FCC’s 16th MLS game this season. At the time, he’d already played in 15 league matches.
So, having the winger back should be a sign of optimism for FC Cincinnati, especially after General Manager Gerard Nijkamp said earlier this month that the club was interested in adding winger depth during this summer transfer window. Lamah’s availability is almost like a new addition.
“We need everybody,” Damet said. “On the flanks in the winger position, we were a bit light the past few weeks. Kekuta (Manneh) and Manu (Ledesma) have played a lot, so it was good from that standpoint.”
It’s also worth noting that Allan Cruz has played in his natural central midfield role since he returned from the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup with Costa Rica. Because he had played as a winger, that further limited depth on the flanks.
What’s best for Lamah now is to return to full match fitness. While he was included in the 18 against D.C. United, he only played the last 25 minutes. The question now is, how quickly can he recover to start and play a full game?
Thankfully, Cincinnati hosting the New England Revolution on Sunday night is another opportunity for the winger to increase minutes and productivity.
“It’s good,” Lamah said about the quick turnaround. “After six weeks (out), I need more games, so it’s good for me and I’m ready for that.”