FC Cincinnati: Planning to deliver the jewel to new stadium’s crown

FC Cincinnati continued to fall to foes as the 2020 season ends. The lights at the end of the tunnel come from the new West End Stadium.

FC Cincinnati is closing out another disappointing season in MLS. The club still has a hopeful selling point for next season as they move to the new West End Stadium. In preparation, general manager Gerard Nijkamp already announced 2021 roster changes.

The team struggles to capture the imagination of supporters as when they were still campaigning to enter MLS competition. The losing records in their first two seasons make that goal difficult to achieve.

Scouting reports have railed on the team’s weaknesses. Those negative points glare most in defending set-pieces and aerial duels. Head coach Jaap Stam maintains that the team’s elusive success will rest on focusing on their 4-2-3-1 formation.

Among the lineup changes, Nijkamp has given up on midfielders Siem de Jong and USL original Jimmy McLaughlin.

While not picking up the option, the club is negotiating with starting winger Joseph-Claude Gyau, plus some other players. Nijkamp talked about keeping players with potential. But he did not speak directly about any players ensuring the impact needed to lead the club to its first MLS winning season. He did go so far as to say he was talking with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim about extending their loan of forward Franko Kovačević.

Right now, the Croatian remains on next season’s roster with forwards Jurgen Locadia and Brandon Vazquez. Although a losing effort to end the regular season with Inter Miami FC, Kovačević had his best game for FC Cincinnati. He got in a tackle, dispossession, and four dribbles. He outpassed the highest-rated player in the game, Inter Miami forward Lewis Morgan.

It was his first effort for Cincinnati. Kovačević and Gyau, who scored in the losing effort, posted the team’s top-rated efforts in the match. Nijkamp had actually made his decision to keep those two players up-front before this last game was played.

The right-footed forward has nothing but potential before him. Kovačević is a natural for the formation Stam wants to continue to emphasize. He got off one more shot than any of his teammates, with one on goal.

With Gyau getting back on the roster with Kovačević and forward Brandon Vazquez, Cincinnati can start 2021 with its best chance yet of posting its first winning season in MLS. The team is calling the new West End Stadium the Crown Jewel of Cincinnati. But FC Cincinnati won’t have supporters believing it until they deliver that jewel in the form of wins.