A week removed from MLS’ transfer deadline day for the 2019 summer window, here’s a look at FC Cincinnati’s business during the period, with comments from General Manager Gerard Nijkamp.
All told, the Orange and Blue acquired four players:
- Maikel van der Werff, center back (from Vitesse)
- Andrew Gutman, left back (on loan for 2019-20 from Celtic FC)
- Joe Gyau, winger (from MSV Duisburg)
- Derrick Etienne Jr. (on loan from New York Red Bulls, with an option to extend)
Additionally, four players left the first team:
- Forrest Lasso, center back (currently on loan at Nashville SC in the USL Championship)
- Logan Gdula, right back (currently on loan at Hartford Athletic in the USL Championship)
- Emery Welshman, forward (his contract was mutually terminated so he could play in Israel)
- Eric Alexander, center midfielder (he was waived but picked up by FC Dallas)
Nijkamp’s thoughts on the window:
“My job is to give the coaches a lot of possibilities in the team to change the formation and get the best balance in defense and in attack,” the GM said. “That is my main job. If I can provide that, then I and (the scouting department) did a good job. Of course, the future will show if these players will help us.”
Earlier during the transfer period, the Dutchman said it was crucial for FC Cincinnati to build a foundation from the back. As a result, the club signed van der Werff and added Gutman on loan to fortify the defense.
On deadline day, two wingers, Etienne Jr. and Gyau, joined the team to serve as more options in a position that needed depth.
“They’re a different profile than the wingers we have now,” Nijkamp said. “It’s more depth for these players and who we want to use when we play with different strategies in the game.”
Both Etienne Jr. and Gutman are in Cincinnati as MLS Homegrowns, which means they can provide roster flexibility.
Because they’re Homegrowns, that means they don’t take a spot on the senior roster. Of course, one less spot means someone else can occupy that slot.
It’s a small detail, but it’s crucial in allowing Nijkamp and his staff to maneuver how they plan their roster changes for the 2019-2020 offseason.
“That is very important because it’s all about creating space to do a lot,” he said.
If they weren’t Homegrowns, other moves – like selling or waiving more players – would’ve been necessary.
As for Etienne Jr., individually, FCC have an option to extend his deal into a permanent one. He made his debut last Saturday in the 2-2 draw at Columbus Crew SC. If Nijkamp likes what he sees from the Haiti international over the next nine games, he can extend the Homegrown’s time in Cincinnati through to next season.
“The most important thing is we have an option in his loan, so we can control the player in a good way,” Nijkamp said. “So, we can say, ‘Yes, you developed very well, we like you and we want to bring you to the West End Stadium. Or, if we see challenges, we don’t extend your option.’”
Although the window is closed, FC Cincinnati are still building for the future.
The MLS roster freeze isn’t until early next month, so there can still be movement for players. For example, the Montreal Impact sold a player to a French team on Wednesday.
There’s a chance the FCC roster hardly changes, but that doesn’t mean work isn’t in progress. The regular season runs through Oct. 6, then there are playoffs and the offseason
The Orange and Blue still have time to see which players they want a part of their future in 2020 or maybe at the West End Stadium in 2021. That’s a long-term goal that indicates years of planning are in progress.
But similar to what Nijkamp said about evaluation Etienne Jr., the club is doing that for the entire team roster, as well as scouting players to potentially add from other clubs or draft in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.
The work never stops.
“We are still working on building our foundation,” Nijkamp said. “It’s not only focusing on the first team, it’s the whole club. So, it’s the youth academy, the performance sides, the scouting and recruiting and more.
“We want to improve our team every (transfer window), so we must keep getting better and better,” he added. There are two sides, building the foundation and getting a better roster for next season than we have now.”