Addressing the media on a beautiful Saturday morning, Ron Jans kept smiling and said there are good spirits around the Orange and Blue ahead of Sunday night’s #HellisReal Derby with Columbus Crew SC at Nippert Stadium.
Here are the main thoughts from FC Cincinnati’s head coach:
“Tomorrow might be the most important game of the season.”
The might is lenient. In reality, the match between Cincinnati and Columbus pairs two teams who sit in similar spots in the MLS Eastern Conference standings and will be desperate to award their fans, especially if the season doesn’t end with a postseason appearance. Jans addressed that with his opening remarks.
“We cannot save the season in one match,” Jans said. “But I think we can do a lot in winning confidence and showing that we can compete and win the game.”
During Friday night’s Prematch Meeting LIVE! event, the FCC head coach said he’s got a special feeling about Sunday night. At the time, he didn’t say much more. When he was asked about it Saturday morning, he offered more context.
“My first game was the rivalry game against the Columbus Crew,” Jans said. “I thought it was a great experience. Now they’re coming here, and I experience how everybody thinks about the derby. I’m really excited again. I have my first home game, I had my first game and now this one, and it’s huge.”
The Dutchman provided an injury update.
Jans confirmed Leo Bertone will be in the 18 for the first time since Jans took over. The Swiss midfielder’s last appearance was Aug. 3 in the home loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
That’s the positive news.
On the other hand, he also acknowledged left back Greg Garza (calf) and center mid Fatai Alashe (hamstring) won’t be included in the plans against Columbus. Both are recovering from injuries and are awaiting inclusion back into the 18.
“There are a lot of players who are coming back into training sessions, but still not with the team, like Garza,” Jans said. “He’s doing well and Alashe is doing well.”
Jans said he’s aware that FC Cincinnati are unbeaten against the Crew and beat them during the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Nippert Stadium.
“You have history you have to build on,” he said. “Yesterday was the Portland-Seattle derby and they’ve played a lot against each other, and I hope we will compete a lot against Columbus make a great history.”
“Yoann Damet also told me he’s still unbeaten against the Columbus Crew,” Jans added with a big smile on his face. “I am too so I hope it will stay like that.”