When the final whistle sounded, FC Cincinnati Head Coach Ron Jans turned toward his bench and hugged assistant coaches Yoann Damet and Jack Stern. Both used to coach for the Montreal Impact organization.Then, he went and congratulated his players on what they achieved: FCC won their first game since July 13 in a 1-0 win over the Impact on Saturday night at Stade Saputo.
For a team that’s out of playoff contention, the focus turned on ruining postseason plans for other teams. As Jans put it earlier this month, he wanted the Orange and Blue to be “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
On Saturday night, they did just that as they came to Montreal, stole points from the Impact and lit a spark at a time when FCC needed positivity approaching the end of the season.
Here are the takeaways from the match:
FC Cincinnati had their best start to a match this season and ended the game with their best finish, too.
The visitors scored 27 seconds in when Allan Cruz scored his sixth goal this season, which times him with Emmanuel Ledesma for the team lead.
Following a Joe Gyau shot that was deflected, the ball came to Cruz six yards from goal and the Costa Rica international smashed it into the net.
Between then and the rest of the first half, Cincinnati kept Montreal quiet and has now gone three-straight matches without conceding in the final five minutes of the first half, which is a drastic change in form from when Jans arrived.
But then in the second half, the visitors found themselves needed to defend more but held strong to get the clean sheet and the first win that Przemysław Tytoń’s earned in MLS.
When Kendall Waston was sent off for a second yellow in the 88th minute, Cincinnati went down to 10 men but still played with a defensive stoutness when Nick Hagglund substituted into the match.
“It’s a big win for us after a period of not winning,” right back Mathieu Deplagne said. “We have a clean sheet today, so it’s good for the mindset to finish this season strong.”
“This is not for the beauty of the game, it’s for the result.”
This quote from Jans was the most important takeaway from Saturday night.
Considering the club had lost eight of its last nine matches and hadn’t won a game under Jans, everyone needed a win. Earlier in the week, the team even had a lengthy meeting to discuss who they could change their mentality to go out and finish the season strong.
Then the Montreal win happened.
“(I have) mixed emotions,” the Dutchman said. “In six weeks time, I realized how much the team and the staff had to suffer this season because of the losses and changes. Now, everything came out. We had a little bit of luck. We could’ve killed the game with a second goal, I think. Happiness is the first emotion today.”
Could FCC have used a second goal? Yes, and at times, it looked it like was moments away.
Joseph-Claude Gyau nearly scored his first goal before Evan Bush parried the ball away. Moments later, Emmanuel Ledesma sent a volley inches wide of the back post.
But in the end, it didn’t matter. What mattered was the one goal led to three points.
FC Cincinnati have four games left … and momentum.
A win against Montreal, which entered the match a spot outside of the playoffs, is an easy way to boost momentum.
When Cincinnati last won a match after a lengthy lull of losses, the team went on to win back-to-back matches. Now, that chance comes as soon as Wednesday night when FCC host the reigning MLS Cup champions, Atlanta United FC.
Gaining three points ahead of that, as Deplagne mentioned about the mindset, could be crucial. Ledesma offered similar comments.
“We have to keep the same mind and mentality and spirit,” Ledesma said. “Wednesday we’re going to be there with the same mentality, focused all on the same page again.”
Saturday night’s victory also marked the first time FC Cincinnati beat an MLS team twice in the same season, claiming the first MLS series sweep in club history.
What comes next
FCC host Atlanta United FC on Wednesday night at Nippert Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
Following that match, the team ends the week by hosting the Chicago Fire on Saturday night. Kickoff will be 7:30 p.m.