Ahead of FC Cincinnati hosting Toronto FC on Saturday night at Nippert Stadium, Head Coach Ron Jans spoke with the media about the matchup, his expectations and these key talking points:
Ron Jans has never had to coach during an international break. Why? Because virtually no other league around the world keeps playing.
But MLS does and Saturday is the first time Jans will coach without starting players, who are away on international duty. Kendall Waston and Allan Cruz are with Costa Rica, while Derrick Etienne Jr. is with Haiti and Alvas Powell is with Jamaica.
“When in Holland, Europe and the rest of the world, when the national team is playing, there’s no league playing,” the Dutch head coach said. “That’s different here, so we have to accept that. I cannot change that.
“We knew we’re officially not going to make the playoffs, so for us, it’s not that bad,” Jans added. “But it’s strange that nobody from Toronto was with the national team.”
That last comment was about three U.S. Men’s National Team players – Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez – weren’t called up to the national team and are instead helping the Reds fight for a spot in the playoffs.
With players away, that means more opportunities for others. Including the international absentees, Kekuta Manneh is suspended, while Maikel van der Werff and Victor Ulloa are injured.
“We knew we would miss some players, so we’re not making a problem out of it,” Jans said. “It’s good to see some new youngsters.”
Both van der Werff and Ulloa were out with injuries but participated during practice on Friday morning at the Mercy Health Training Center.
Frankie Amaya hasn’t played for Jans because of a groin injury, but he has been cleared to play and could return in some capacity Saturday against Toronto.
Additionally, Rashawn Dally and Tommy McCabe could play as Jans noted he wants to see his full roster on the field in order to continue player evaluations. McCabe is seeking his first MLS start and has three appearances this season.
Friday was exactly one month before the last game this season: Oct. 6 at D.C. United. Between now and then, there are six games left, and Jans delivered his expectations for the remaining month.
“I can repeat and repeat and repeat that we want to work on our playing style,” he said. “I want to see a team that shows what it can every game. I cannot accept that we give up, but I can accept we’ve had a long season … we’re a little bit mentally in trouble. We have to be aware of that and not accept that.”
“We have such great fans. We played Dallas away and they’re playing for the playoffs and had maybe 6,000 people. We have much more and we want to show something. I’m looking forward to my first victory.”
This comment refers to FC Cincinnati’s great fans, of course.
On Thursday, Jans, President Jeff Berding and General Manager Gerard Nijkamp met with FCC supporters for 90 minutes in a Town Hall. Jans had an opportunity to speak with fans and said it was a great experience.
“I am sometimes amazed,” Jans said. “Because the results are not so very good - they’re bad - and the fans are still so positive. They’re so nice. It’s really good to see, and I think they realize that soccer can be much, much better than it is now.
“When you get something, you want to give back. I like to more than take, so let’s give it back to them,” Jans said of positivity.