After conceding the fastest goal in club history after 31 seconds, FC Cincinnati allowed three more and lost, 4-0, to New York City FC on Saturday night at Nippert Stadium.
These are the takeaways from the match:
Stam: “We don’t need to look for excuses.”
FCC entered the game with confidence after being unbeaten in their last two matches. In those games – a 1-0 win and a 0-0 draw – FC Cincinnati played with composure and defended with a press. They were rewarded with clean sheets.
They tried the same in the opening seconds at NYCFC before being carved and Alexandru Mitrita slotted the ball into the left corner.
The visitors allowed two more goals before halftime.
“What we brought in the first half wasn’t good enough,” head coach Jaap Stam said after the match. “They punished us for that.”
If Wednesday night’s scoreless draw against Philadelphia showed Cincinnati’s backline playing at its best – not even allowing a shot on target – Saturday night was the opposite and saw the club match its record for most goals allowed this season.
“Unfortunately, I think, you have games like this in every season that you play, losing 4-0 to a great team that was much more superior than we were on the night,” Greg Garza. “We need to give that credit to them, but I think there is a bit of pride there that we need to better ourselves and not allow that many goals being scored. Especially given the circumstances, a tiring night for all of us, but at the same time we need to do better in not allowing ourselves to concede that many.”
Garza: “Tiring night for all of us.”
The problem that Yoann Damet had in June 2019 has reemerged for Stam in September/October 2020: The team can’t field a full matchday roster and is playing games in quick succession.
Stam only named 17 players to his matchday squad against NYCFC. The opposition had 20.
Three FCC players missed the match with injuries, while two players were in MLS protocol, one is working to become match fit and an additional player hasn’t been officially added to the roster.
This – in addition to the news that Nick Hagglund became the first Cincinnati player to test positive for COVID-19 – created an “eerie” feeling around the club, Spencer Richey said.
“I think there's a lot of factors, the amount of games traveled,” Richey said of the loss. “You know, it was a little bit sort of eerie yesterday, sort of a surreal moment. We hadn't had any COVID related issues. I think we're one of the very few clubs that have not been impacted by it until this point.
“We feel for Nick, for his health, first and foremost, but he also had been playing well and gotten a couple games in a row. So, really unfortunate for him. We're thinking of him during this time, and hopefully, he'll be able to shake it off quick and rejoin the team soon.”
How quickly can the team heal?
The club tweeting out a video of Kamohelo Mokotjo practicing at Mercy Health Training Center was a welcoming sign for the South African midfielder who arrives with expectations. But how quickly can he become acclimated with his teammates?
The more pressing matter is can FCC players use this upcoming week to rest, heal and come back stronger for next Saturday’s game at Minnesota United FC? That’s increasingly important as Tom Pettersson and Andrew Gutman were subbed off prior to the final whistle.
“You can see from today that the players need a rest,” Stam said. “We need to assess them well tomorrow and the days after as well. You know, against Minnesota, a good team away from home as well. We need to work hard, but we also need to show quality. If you're tired, it becomes very difficult. We can see that. We need to get the players back into shape, and of course, forget this game and learn from it like we said in the beginning. We look forward to the next one.”
What comes next
The Orange and Blue play at Minnesota United FC on Saturday, followed by a midweek match the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. Then, FCC will play the next five games at Nippert Stadium.