Koch Out as FC Cincinnati Head Coach

Alan Koch is out as FC Cincinnati’s head coach. Assistant Yoann Damet will serve as interim manager until a new coach is hired.

Alan Koch is out as FC Cincinnati’s head coach. Assistant Yoann Damet will serve as interim manager until a new coach is hired.

A press report released on Tuesday morning indicates that the decision was based on management’s perception that Koch had not maximized the talent at his disposal.

This decision is not driven by recent game results themselves, but rather the underpinnings that have led to those results,” said President and General Manager Jeff Berding. “We have not come close to maximizing the talent we have in the dressing room this year, nor have we seen a foundation being built that will set us up for success this year and into next year. Our whole locker room is committed to our club goal of earning an MLS postseason bid, and we need to put them in the best position to do so.”

Koch’s dismissal comes after a streak of 5 consecutive defeats for FCC despite a positive start to the season. The team currently sits at 2-7-2 in 11th place, second from bottom of the Eastern Conference after 11 matches played.

FC Cincinnati will undergo an “international search” for their next head coach.

UPDATED: Adi Reinstated and Available Saturday after OVI Ruling

UPDATED: At 7 pm on Wednesday, FC Cincinnati released a statement that Major League Soccer had reinstated Fanendo Adi.

Image: Joe Craven

UPDATED: At 7 pm on Wednesday, FC Cincinnati released a statement that Major League Soccer had reinstated Fanendo Adi. An independent review of the forward’s OVI incident was completed by the league. Additionally, he was cleared to play by MLS’s SABH (Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health) doctors. He will be available to play on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.

Alan Koch explained at training earlier on Wednesday that he hoped to get the Designated Player back to training with FC Cincinnati’s full squad soon.

“Fanendo is making progress. I just had a chat with Gary (Walker) and he’s working on the side. We hope to include him very, very soon, maybe even tomorrow in terms of training with the team.”

Adi returned to Cincinnati last week but had not been able to fully participate with his teammates until he was cleared by the league.

“He’s doing work on the side,” said Koch earlier on Wednesday. “We have to wait for the proper authorities to make their decisions. He’s allowed to do work and PT on the side, and he’s making significant progress, but we have to wait for decisions to be made obviously before we can move forward.”

Adi had been missing from the squad since March 17th, when he left the match against the Portland Timbers with an ankle injury. That injury, plus an OVI incident on March 31st, resulted in an extended absence for FCC’s target man.

According to today’s reports and court documents, Adi appeared in court on Tuesday and received a $250 fine for his OVI. He was also given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a 6-month suspension of his driver’s license.

FC Cincinnati went into their mid-April clash with LAFC surprisingly banged-up, but several players are on the mend. Roland Lamah, Alvas Powell, and Kekuta Manneh recovered fully for the match against Real Salt Lake last week. Also, FC Cincinnati will likely add another name to the list of players available for selection for this weekend’s match.

“Ledesma’s been back and training completely for two days now, so that’s exciting,” said Koch.

Things don’t look quite as good for Greg Garza, who was limited to physical therapy on Wednesday, but is making “significant progress.”

Given Adi’s upcoming return, the improved injury outlook, and the new grass playing surface in Milford, morale was high for FCC’s squad on Wednesday, despite a difficult loss just four days ago.

“It’s awesome, and I think I speak for the entire team,” said Koch about the grass surface at the team’s new fields at Mercy Health Training Complex. “We’re incredibly grateful for the club to provide this to us. It feels like we’ve had to play on the turf for a long time, but you can see it in the players, they are energized after training on grass. It makes the adjustment, in terms of going on the road to NY, Philly, and SJ and having to play on grass, and the fact that we can actually train on grass all week long. It’s great from that perspective.”

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for our Match Program preview and coverage of Saturday’s matchup with New York Red Bulls.

Confirmed: FC Cincinnati Acquire USMNT Midfielder Kenny Saief on Loan

According to several outlets, USMNT midfielder Kenny Saief is on his way to the Queen City for a physical as part of a loan move to FC Cincinnati.

Photo credit: Matt Garrity License

As confirmed on March 6th by FC Cincinnati, USMNT midfielder Kenny Saief will join the Orange & Blue on loan from RSC Anderlecht.

Kenny Saief Profile

Age: 25
Position: Midfielder – Left/Central
Born: Panama City, Florida, U.S.A.
Former Team: RSC Anderlecht
Value: $2,270,000 USD

Kenny Saief is an American born midfielder who played for the Israel Youth and Men’s National Teams before making a one-time switch to the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2017. This will be Saief’s first time playing in a North American league, after playing for seven different clubs over the past eight years.

Following a nine-goal season with Israel’s Hapoel Nir Ramat HaSharon FC in 2014, Saief caught the attention of Belgian first-division club K.A.A. Gent. During three seasons as a regular starter, he led the team to top four league finishes each year, including Champions League berths. His most notable achievement in 13 starts during the 2016-17 campaign included his role in Gent’s 3-2 upset over Tottenham.

While primarily designated as a left midfielder, many believe Saief could fulfill the central attacking midfielder (CAM) role for FC Cincinnati. He would join MLS as FC Cincinnati’s highest-market-value player, according to Transfermarkt.

One worry is Saief’s recent history of injuries. In July of 2017, according to a report from SBISoccer.com, Saief suffered a hernia injury that was successfully repaired. However, during his international debut for the United States against Ghana, Saief re-aggravated the injury. Shortly after, doctors discovered an infection from the original surgery that further slowed Saief’s healing process. This injury played a role in barring Saief from the United States’ 23-man Gold Cup squad that same year.

Saief joins a crowded midfield for the Orange & Blue that already features 11 players. Because Saief now occupies a senior roster spot and the club had already reached their limit of 20, FCC will need to make further moves to satisfy MLS roster compliance standards. More on that is sure to come.

FC Cincinnati – City Council’s Warm-up

Graphic: CSDIV

Cincinnati City Council called a press conference on short notice on Friday April 6th to make an announcement about FC Cincinnati’s West End stadium pursuit. The press conference was held at the Lighthouse Worship Center on Central Avenue. Politicians, community leaders, building and trade officials, West End residents, and even the “Little Senators” were in attendance.

Council members P.G. Sittenfeld and David Mann used this morning’s press conference to outline a proposed stadium and community plan they crafted. They believe the plan has the necessary number of city council votes to pass, and that FC Cincinnati has agreed to it in principle.

P.G. shared, “We are here to share some big news and what I believe is a big break through.” He continued, “We don’t pass on opportunity, we seize opportunity. Let’s make our vibrancy brighter, let’s make our narrative stronger”. According to Sittenfeld, “After much listening and doing my homework…the question is how can we do the most good for the most people? We are forced to make choices, sometimes binary and often difficult.”

Proposed Stadium Deal Points

  • $25M+ of new money to Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS)
  • FC Cincinnati to pay full fair share of property taxes
  • $32M of new money will be spent with minority businesses, including $22M being spent with women-owned businesses
  • $15M in new, quality affordable housing by a private developer in partnership with the city (no homes will be demolished and no one displaced by the construction)
  • $100,000 annual commitment from FC Cincinnati for West End organizations and kids activities
  • $10M new Stargel  Stadium
  • Community Benefits Agreement to be negotiated that covers light, noise, litter, traffic, and safety

Sittenfeld concluded his prepared remarks with the question, “What will happen if we don’t seize on this opportunity and allow the project to go over the river?” After listing the benefits of this plan he ended with, “We are a can-do city.”

Former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, from a 4th generation West End family, added “this will be the largest single investment in the West End in the history of the community.”

This morning’s news does not guarantee that the stadium plan is a done deal, or that MLS will finally announce FC Cincinnati’s bid. However, it certainly does set the stage for the necessary votes by the Cincinnati Public School (CPS) board, the West End Community Council, and Cincinnati’s City Council.

After today’s warm up with some positive news on the stadium front, FC Cincinnati supporters will look to continue the momentum tomorrow in the FC Cincinnati vs. Louisville City FC match.

FC Cincinnati Is Playoff Bound

FC Cincinnati punched their ticket to the 2017 USL playoffs by getting a little help from the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Thursday evening.

Playoff-Bound
Photo Credit: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati advanced to the 2017 USL playoffs on Thursday, benefitting from a victory by the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies defeated 9th-place Orlando City B at Orlando City Stadium by a 2-0 scoreline. Georgi Hristov and Sebastian Guenzatti scored two late goals for Tampa Bay to secure the victory.

Defeat for Orlando City B in their last match of the season means they will remain in 9th place. No other team can overtake FC Cincinnati, who currently occupies eighth, the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Playoff Seeding Scenarios

There’s still a lot to play for this Saturday in FC Cincinnati’s final match of the season. The Orange and Blue can improve their playoff seed by beating Toronto FC II and climb as high as 6th in the standings heading into the postseason. Where they end up depends on how other results play out. Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios that can leave FC Cincinnati in either 6th, 7th, or 8th place.

6th – FC Cincinnati wins and BOTH New York Red Bulls II and Bethlehem Steel do not win.

7th – FC Cincinnati wins and either Red Bulls II or Bethlehem wins, but not both OR FC Cincinnati draws and Bethlehem loses.

8th – Any other scenario not covered above or a FC Cincinnati loss keeps them in 8th.

Regardless of where they end up, Alan Koch’s team will play their first playoff match away from Nippert Stadium. For more details of the final regular season match, check out our preview Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati at Toronto FC II.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the Toronto FC II match and FC Cincinnati’s 2017 playoff run.

Playoff-Bound

SOLD OUT: FC Cincinnati US Open Cup Semifinal Tickets Snatched Up

Tickets to FC Cincinnati’s US Open Cup semifinal match against the NY Red Bulls sold out just hours after being released to the general public.

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Photo courtesy JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

Tickets to FC Cincinnati’s US Open Cup semifinal match against the New York Red Bulls sold out just hours after being released to the general public at 1pm on Tuesday. The ticketing platform, supplied by vendor Glitnir, immediately had problems keeping up with the high demand and corresponding web traffic. The problems were significant enough that ticket sales had to be suspended for most of the afternoon. The ticketing platform was re-opened just after 8pm on Tuesday, and the match sold out overnight.

Also see: Huge Semifinal Ticket Demand: Down Goes Glitnir

FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding had the following to say about the sell out:

“To sell out on the first day of our public sale is tremendous and we are confirming that we do not have any seats available. Our sales team sold 16,000 tickets in roughly seven hours and we are thrilled that our fans are excited about our match-up against New York Red Bulls. The atmosphere at Nippert Stadium is going to be spectacular.

I want to thank our fans for their understanding and patience when our system went down. Despite all the preparatory measures we took with Glitnir, the demand was simply too much for the system. For those who are still trying to purchase a ticket for the match, I encourage you to sign on with us as a season ticket holder to receive priority in the future.”

The semifinal match will be played on Tuesday August 15th at 8pm at Nippert stadium. FC Cincinnati advanced to the semifinals after beating Miami FC 1-0 on August 2nd in a rescheduled quarterfinal match. Djiby Fall scored the deciding goal in that contest, but will be suspended for the semifinal due to yellow card accumulation. The semifinal winner will face the victor of tonight’s match between Sporting KC and the San Jose Earthquakes. If FC Cincinnati and San Jose both advance, the US Open Cup final will be played at Nippert Stadium.

“We sold 16,000 tickets in 7 hours yesterday. I think that speaks to this wonderful soccer movement that we have going on in our city.” –Jeff Berding

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s cup run and 2017 season.

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