Tommy McCabe kept his answers short during an interview following his first MLS start. That strategy was similar to his thoughts following his league debut, and that also arrived amidst a heavy defeat (a 7-1 loss.)
McCabe said it was nice to start and an achievement, but didn’t want to play the moment up anymore given the circumstances.
But just before he spoke with media, before the recorders and cameras turned on at his Nippert Stadium locker, he had Facetimed his mom in London at 3 a.m. local time and told her about the biggest moment of his soccer career.
In a forgetful game, these are the moments worth remembering.
On Saturday, McCabe was one of three FC Cincinnati rookies to start in the 5-1 loss to Toronto FC at Nippert Stadium. It was the first time in this season a team started three players from the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
“It is nice that (Head Coach Ron Jans) has trust and faith to give us that opportunity,” McCabe said. “It’s up to us to take advantage of that.”
In his first league start, the center midfielder played the full match alongside Caleb Stanko in a defensive-midfielder role. He completed 89.2% of his passes and made two tackles.
Ahead of him was Frankie Amaya, the No. 1 pick in the SuperDraft and one of FCC’s most creative players. In his first match since July 21, Amaya started and played 71 minutes. After the match, Jans said the teenager was Cincinnati’s best player.
“I told Frankie that he was playing Mr. Bradley (Michael Bradley) and he could almost be your father,” Jans said. “I said, ‘You have to compete and show respect, but also show what you can.’ And I think Frankie was our best man.”
As for Dally, he played the first half before being replaced by Darren Mattocks after halftime.
These changes were part of Jans’ quest to evaluate every player on the roster through valuable minutes. Ahead of the match, he said he’d made changes to the lineup. By kickoff, the three rookies were among the eight alterations.
“We cannot play young players when they are not good enough, but I think they will be good enough in the future and will help,” Jans said. “But we weren’t good enough today.”
An easy way to interpret that is this: while playing the young players didn’t result in points gained against Toronto FC, experiences like Saturday night could lead to points accumulated in the future.
FCC fielded the youngest starting lineup in team history against Toronto. The average age was 25.4. Not including goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń, the average age of the 10 field players was only 22.5
In 2018, the Orange and Blue only had two players 23 or younger on their roster.
Why this matters is Jans is playing younger players to evaluate them, but also because he believes they can develop. In some instances, the next five weeks serve as a tryout for players making the 2020 FC Cincinnati roster.
For these three rookies in particular, their use is an encouraging sign as the offseason inches closer.