As Ron Jans spoke to the media outside the FC Cincinnati locker room, he searched for the right words to describe the Orange and Blue’s latest setback, a 3-1 loss at FC Dallas on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.
The words were said differently, but carried the same meaning. As FCC continue to lose matches, they continue to search for the right pieces to earn a result in the remaining six games in the season and, looking beyond, the pieces to fill part of the 2020 roster.
Here are the takeaways from the loss in Frisco:
FCC went into the locker room trailing 1-0, but were in a position to flip momentum in the match.
When the halftime whistle sounded, the sound snapped Cincinnati’s four-game streak of conceding in the 40th minute or closer to halftime. Throughout the month of August, that was one of the biggest areas to correct. That the club was able to in Fresno was a positive.
By that point in the match, the Orange and Blue had already hit in the post in the ninth minute from a curling shot from Emmanuel Ledesma, and nearly scored when Leo Bertone intercepted a pass inside the Dallas 18-yard box when the home side tried to build from the back.
While FCD presented moments of danger, they also scored with their first shot on target. There was plenty to play for.
“In the last 10 minutes before halftime, we were in the game,” Jans said. “Normally, that’s the phase in the game when we concede a lot of goals, but we didn’t. We tried to say in the game in the second half, but within five minutes, it was over.”
Michael Barrios scored in the 49th minute when he possessed a ball that carved through the Cincinnati midfield, got in behind the backline and then he finished his shot to the back post.
Two minutes later, Barrios played a cross to Zdenek Ondrasek, who made the match 3-0.
FC Cincinnati cut the deficit to two goals when Emmanuel Ledesma finished a 64th minute penalty that Roland Lamah won two minutes earlier, but Cincinnati never got within striking distance to earn a point in the remaining minutes.
“It’s always not to blame personal players, but it’s also always individual mistakes,” Jans said. “We lose the ball in transition and then it’s 2-1, 3-1 and it’s over. But we didn’t give up, and that’s what I liked.”
After lengthy spells on the sideline or getting treatment to injuries, it was refreshing to see Greg Garza and Fatai Alashe back playing again.
The last time Garza played was May 19 in the 5-1 loss at Orlando City SC. After recovering from a previous calf injury, he sustained another minutes into that match. So, when he was able to return and play an hour against Dallas, it was a meaningful moment in the trip.
While he didn’t play a full 90 minutes – and Andrew Gutman replaced him for the last half hour – the duo might have the hottest position battle at FC Cincinnati as they both look for minutes in the final six matches remaining in the regular season.
The match in Dallas was only Garza’s seventh appearance this season
As for Alashe, he returned to the 18 after missing matches since June 22 with a hamstring injury. In that match, he was forced to play right back when depth was limited for Cincinnati. When he played against FCD, he was back in his box-to-box central midfield role and tried to put his stamp on the match.
“Obviously it’s massive to not be injured,” he said. “To be healthy again is good. The circumstances were maybe not the best, but it’s good to be back. Now, it’s just about working my way into the team, hopefully.”
FCC started five new players against Dallas. When the team hosts Toronto FC next Saturday night at Nippert Stadium, fans could see more fresh faces as Jans wants to see more players and evaluate their potential.
“We want to give minutes to young promising players. (Rashawn) Dally came in and I think (Tommy) McCabe will get his minutes in the next games, too.
This was one of the key quotes from the Dutch head coach following the loss.
With six matches left, he wants to see what resources he has to work with for the remainder of the season. To this point, the only rookie to play for Jans has been Dally, who was a late sub at Columbus Crew SC and then again in Fresno.
Frankie Amaya has yet to play for Jans because of a groin injury, but will play when healthy. As Jans alluded to, there are minutes for McCabe as well.
This is an encouraging sign for the club to see the players it drafted in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and see what their talent and comfort is playing in the league. At one point in time, all three have been recalled from loans in the USL Championship.
But there’s also another catch.
Because international teams are about to play friendlies, there will vacancies in the lineup for players to both start and also make the 18.
When Cincinnati host Toronto, Kendall Waston and Allan Cruz will be with Costa Rica, while Alvas Powell with Jamaica and Derrick Etienne Jr. with Haiti.
Based on Saturday night, that means there are two starting posts looking to be filled and one spot on the bench. Perhaps those positions could be filled with younger “promising players.”
What comes next
Following the loss, FCC will host Toronto FC on Saturday at Nippert Stadium before playing at the Montreal Impact on Sept. 14. When Cincinnati and TFC last played at BMO Field on July 28, the Orange and Blue lost 2-1 in a match that saw Ledesma score in the second half
That match was also the last time McCabe featured for Cincinnati. His return could be against the same opposition.