Nijkamp provides updates on coaching search, Locadia loan

Before Wednesday morning’s video call, the last time general manager Gerard Nijkamp spoke with the media, he stood on the sideline of a Mercy Health Training Center practice field and had just told the team there’d be no home opener in two days.

Minutes before that, he told the players to keep staying fit and he’d provide updates when possible.

Nearly a month later, Nijkamp is 4,000 miles away from MHTC and in the Netherlands with his family. He said he’s continuing business as usual – as much as possible ­– as uncertainty circles around MLS and the league resuming play.

“We have a lot of things to work on for the moment we can all come back to MHTC,” Nijkamp said. “We’re trying to be better prepared than we even were when we started this crisis. Hopefully we can come back soon.”

Here were the main talking points from Nijkamp’s media availability.

No one knows when the season will resume

Nijkamp said he’s been in meetings with MLS commissioner Don Garber and the other 25 general managers trying to figure out when the season will resume. Any possible dates are pure speculation at this point, Nijkamp said.

At one point, he mentioned everyone wants to resume play as soon as possible, but he also it’s unclear if that’s weeks, months or even a year away.

“We are facing in this moment a lot of challenges and also we have a lot of questions about what will happen when this takes longer than we like,” he said. “If we don’t have a league competition this season anymore? What will happen for the club as a whole, but also for individuals inside the club and MLS overall … Maybe we can come back in one month? There are all kinds of questions and challenges we have, but it’s all to bring back soccer in our lives.”

Nijkamp mentioned FCC have three coaching candidates

One coaching candidate has already been in Cincinnati and visited the club’s facilities, but the others haven’t and work aboard, Nijkamp said.

This was the first time FCC’s GM mentioned the number of candidates shortlisted or provided anymore of an update than saying there’s a coaching search in progress.

“We had one candidate in for an in-market visit,” he said. “The other two candidates have not because they are from abroad and it was in the time when they closed the borders, so it is not possible to bring them in.”

Nijkamp said it’s vital for the future coach to visit Cincinnati before accepting the coaching position. Looking at pictures isn’t enough.

“But to be (in) life there and get a feeling and vibe of the city … is also important,” he said. “Hopefully we can do that soon.”

While that might make the coaching search a lengthier process, there’s no rush to complete the hiring when there’s no guarantee when the players will be allowed to return to MHTC and play again. 

Photo taken by Michael Millay

FCC want to extend the Locadia loan deal from July 5 deadline

Jürgen Locadia has played a combined 116 minutes since he joined the club on loan from English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion. And while he scored minutes into his MLS debut, that doesn’t mean FCC are racing to seal a permanent move.

Nijkamp said FCC, Locadia and Brighton are discussing the possibility of extending the loan deal. But at this point, it’s difficult to set a date for the deal to extend to.

While there’s no date for MLS to resume, the English Premier League also has teams sitting in limbo waiting to hear about the end of the 2019-20 season and start of 2020-21. Nijkamp said he wants this to be a “win-win situation” for all parties.

“But we must first have a better understanding of what will happen with the summer (transfer) window, of finishing the season in Europe and also the restart in our league,” Nijkamp said.

The GM said he was hoping to have seen the Dutch striker play 18 or 19 games for the Orange and Blue before determining what would come next. Last week, Locadia told The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Pat Brennan that he’s “happy” here at FC Cincinnati.