This offseason, Haris Medunjanin arrived at FC Cincinnati with a wealth of experience and know-how. He is now using it to teach the young dogs of the roster new tricks.
Ther Some supporters would rather kick-start the club’s competitive advent by bringing in some superstars. After a dreadful first season in MLS in which FCC finished bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 6-22-6 record, there was a desperation to see the club right the team-building wrongs of the last offseason and invest in younger, genuine talent, especially in offensive positions. Medunajanin is not that.
But he does bring other qualities to the FC Cincinnati squad that are valuable. As head coach Ron Jans details, Medunjanin’s experience is coming to the fore:
"“I think it’s good that he wants to do that and the young guys can learn on the pitch. You can see he’s talking a lot, but he’s also pretty fresh (to the team.) That’s one of the things we expect from him, to share experience, and not only to young players, but to everybody.”"
The front office thinks adding the mentoring strategy will serve both short-term and long-term interests. The coaching staff instils a winning system into the young squad from without. At the same time, the midfielder will be with them on the pitch pushing effective competitive tactics from within.
The mentoring input brought by Medunjanin includes the same mission he previously held with Philadelphia Union academy. He is 34 years of age and boasts tremendous professional experience. He has crystal-clear memories of the barriers he fought through as a rookie and he can share the lessons learned throughout his journey.
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He first worked his way through AZ Alkmaar Academy in The Netherlands. Then he played in back-to-back successful UEFA Championship campaigns with the Dutch U-21 national team. From those days, through La Liga, Israel Premier League, Bosnian National Team and all the way to MLS, Medunjanin credits his progress and longevity to the generous counsel of experienced players. That is what he now offers in return to the young Cincinnati squad.
Known for his passing and range of distribution, it is not surprise to see Medunjanin, the oldest player on the roster, working on passing drills with midfielder Frankie Amaya, at age 19 the youngest on the FC Cincinnati roster.
‘It’s pretty nice,’ Amaya said. ‘He has a bunch of experience and he’s played the game a while. He knows he has a good understanding of the game, good technique and good vision. It’s good to have a player like him.’
Quite what Medunjanin’s impact on the pitch will be remains to be seen. But he is already having an effect on Cincinnati off it, sharing his experience and understanding with the young players he works with. And FC Cincinnati might just be better off for it.