Paul Nicholson Provides Players with a “Showcase for Their Skills” at Cincinnati Dutch Lions

Paul Nicholson turned in his Orange and Blue boots to take the helm of Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC in December. He spoke to us about his transition to coaching, Zeus de la Paz, the upcoming CDLFC season, and his take on FC Cincinnati’s 2018 roster.

Orange and Blue Press had a chance to speak with retired FC Cincinnati defender Paul Nicholson, who recently became head coach of Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC. He filled us in on his transition to coaching, Zeus de la Paz’s transfer, and CDLFC’s upcoming Meet & Greet this Sunday at the House of Orange in Covington. He also gave us his two cents on FC Cincinnati’s offseason activity in pursuit of a USL Cup.

A native of Whitehaven, England, Nicholson made 37 appearances for FC Cincinnati in 2016 and 2017 and a total of 153 appearances during his pro career, good enough to position him in the top ten in the USL in games played. Although he just retired in 2017, he’s held a variety of coaching positions since college—“I’ve been coaching for basically as long as I’ve been playing in the States,” he told us in the interview.

We asked Paul about making the transition from professional player to his first full-time head coaching job at the PDL level.

“It’s been a big change. We’re not on the field yet, we don’t start until May 1st. . . . Being in the office every day, talking to coaches and recruiting players is just a different day’s work than being a professional athlete. . . . You’re in the office from 9 to 5 and sometimes a lot longer, but I’m enjoying it immensely, and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do when I stopped playing. So to get this opportunity here is fantastic for me.”

Play the full audio in each segment for more detail than what is contained in the quotes.

Zeus de la Paz, photo courtesy of Joe Craven

The Cincinnati Dutch Lions are making headlines in 2018, not only by appointing Nicholson as the team’s skipper but also in the transfer market. Curaçaoan goalkeeper Zeus de la Paz, who spent 2017 with the Lions, recently signed with Oldham Athletic of England’s League One. We asked Paul what it meant for a CDLFC product to get an opportunity at such a historic English club.

“It speaks volumes for Cincinnati Dutch Lions, . . . and the opportunity that we can provide our players, and give them a showcase to present their skills to the world. . . . We’ve had a lot of guys go pro over the last few years. Zeus is the latest and he’s probably gone as high as anyone,. . .  We’ll miss him because of how good he was, but there will be an announcement in the next couple of week that will show our intent to make sure we don’t miss him too much and that we’re solid in the nets next season.”

Meet and Greet this Sunday, January 28th

2017 Cincinnati Dutch Lions, photo courtesy of Joe Craven

While the 14-game PDL season takes place over the summer months, the Dutch Lions are reaching out to the community early to make a connection. How early? Things kick off this Sunday, January 28th with a Meet & Greet at the House of Orange in Covington from 2pm to 4pm.

“We plan to announce our sponsors for the season, we also plan on bringing the first class of signings for 2018 in to meet the fans. . . . It’s going to be a great opportunity for the people who are into soccer in Cincinnati to come out meet the players, meet myself, and get to know what the club’s all about.”

So 2018 closes the book on the playing career of another FC Cincinnati “inaugural”. However, similar to Austin Berry, we won’t have to look far to see Nicholson still impacting soccer in Cincinnati (and Northern Kentucky) in a positive way.

Of course, we couldn’t let Paul go without taking the opportunity to ask him about FC Cincinnati’s upcoming 2018 season, and what he thinks about the new stable of talent that’s been recruited by Alan Koch.

“Seeing how exciting the signings have been and the level of player that they’ve gone after is incredible. If everything goes to plan, they’ve got a great chance to win the league. I don’t want to jinx them, but they’ve put together a great squad. It will be how Alan, Yoann, and those guys manage that squad throughout the season.”

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC and FC Cincinnati. Make sure you get out to the House of Orange in Covington this Sunday to meet Paul and the CDLFC crew. It’s sure to be worth your while.

Bethlehem Steel FC 2 – FC Cincinnati 0 – Match Changing Moment

Learn more about the moment that changed the match in FC Cincinnati’s defeat against Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday. Plus Koch’s comments.

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Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Steel FC

FC Cincinnati was defeated 2-0 by Bethlehem Steel FC in Pennsylvania on Sunday. A red card issued to FC Cincinnati defender Paul Nicholson in the 23rd minute changed the match. Steel FC took advantage, and their captain Seku Conneh scored two second-half goals to secure the victory for the Pennsylvania outfit.

Match Changing Moment

Steel FC’s Jack Elliot played a ball over the top to forward Corey Burke who ran in behind FC Cincinnati’s defense. Paul Nicholson tracked back to cover. Nicholson fell while attempting to challenge Burke in the box, and clipped the forward’s legs. A penalty kick was awarded, a red card was shown to Nicholson, and FC Cincinnati was reduced to 10 men.

Steel FC forward Seku Conneh stepped up to take the penalty. He drove a low shot to Mitch Hildebrandt’s right side. It wasn’t placed in the corner though and Mitch dove to make a fine save.

Even after going down a man FC Cincinnati held defensively in the first half, which ended goalless. They even had a few chances to take the lead before the break with threatening counter-attacking moves. The second half was dominated by Steel FC, who capitalized on their man advantage, scoring goals in the 47th and 60th minutes.

For play-by-play details of the match’s event, turn your attention to the FC Cincinnati match report.

Stats

Not surprisingly, the match stats in many statistical categories were lopsided in Steel FC’s favor. They controlled 59 percent of possession, and outshot FC Cincinnati 20-7. More importantly, they controlled periods of play in the second half. They also limited FC Cincinnati to only a single blocked shot in the second half. They did a professional job of capitalizing on the extra man, and closed out the game comfortably.

More Defensive Damage

Defender Justin Hoyte made his debut on Sunday for FC Cincinnati, but left injured after only 13 minutes of play. They were already playing without center back Austin Berry who is still recovering from a concussion suffered against Pittsburgh last week. FC Cincinnati may need to rely on depth in defense during their upcoming home stand.

Koch’s Comments*

Opening statement…

“It was a tough game for us today. It’s not ideal to have an injury in the first 10 minutes and obviously the red card wasn’t something that was planned for. Everything that could go wrong at the start of the game, certainly did go wrong. I was pleased with how our players dealt with it until halftime and then obviously, full credit to Bethlehem Steel FC, they came at us and fully deserved the three points.”

On the attack of Steel FC…

“It’s hard to analyze a game like this when you’ve played a man down for 75 minutes. We knew they’d be good but there was a lot of space for them since we were playing a man down.”

On the team adjusting well the first half to playing with only 10 men…

“I think experience helps and we adjusted to a 4-4-1 when we went a man down. I thought the guys did a good job managing the game until halftime. It’s not ideal to concede a goal when you are a man down at the start of the second half, and I think that was the big turning point in the game. Full credit to our players, they showed a lot of character to fight to the bitter end.”

*Comments courtesy of Evan Villella

What’s next?

FC Cincinnati returns to Nippert stadium for their home opener next Saturday, April 15th. That match against Saint Louis FC is the first of three home matches in eight days. Hopefully some home cookin’ and a newly rennovated Nippert stadium can turn around the fortunes of the Orange and Blue.

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FC Cincinnati Signs Mélé Temguia: 4 Questions with Tristan D’Amours

Orange and Blue Press caught up with Montréal based journalist Tristan D’Amours for more insight into FC Cincinnati’s most recent signing, Mélé Temguia.

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Photo courtesy of Montréal Impact

FC Cincinnati announced the signing of Canadian defender Mélé Temguia on Tuesday. The 21 year old center back most recently played as a trialist for FC Cincinnati in a preseason match against the Ottawa Fury on February 25th. Temguia spent the 2015 and 2016 USL seasons with FC Montréal after coming through the Montréal Impact academy system.

FC Cincinnati Official Press Release

Four Questions with Tristan D’Amours

Tristan D’Amours is a Montréal based journalist that covered FC Montréal for the past two seasons.* He answered a few questions from Orange and Blue press about FC Cincinnati’s most recent signing.

What kind of player is Mélé Temguia? What are his strengths and weaknesses as a defender?

“Temguia is a tall centreback that impressed with FC Montreal from the get-go. At his young age, he already had a great defensive vision and was one of the only players to cope with the physicality of the USL in FC Montreal’s first season. The lack of defenders back in FC Montréal’s first season gave him the opportunity to impose himself very quickly as a regular starter despite being one of the youngest on an already very young team. Back in 2015, he was regarded as a “raw diamond” kind of player. He was highly regarded within the Impact.”

Mélé got a decent number of starts for FC Montreal and some USL recognition in 2015, but only 4 starts for 128 minutes in 2016, what were the reasons for his lesser role?

“Mélé was the number one centreback in 2015 but a leg injury ruled him out for most of the 2016 season. I remember his first start back after months on the injury list, he started the game despite it being his first minutes back from his injury because the team was short on defenders. He only played the first 45 minutes but everyone was very surprised by what he had done. Then assistant coach Simon Gatti told me after the game that he was surprised at what he brought to that game after months of sitting out. Playing consistent soccer at a level he already played at will be very good for him in 2017.”

Is there anything else about Mélé that people should know?

“I remember speaking to him after his first start after he returned from injury. We spoke to him about his 45 minutes and was so happy to be able to play again. He wanted to make a mark on the rest of the season. The downside of this was that there were only a handful of games remaining. His injury made him fall down the pecking order for the Impact, and the arrival of Thomas Meilleur-Guiguère in 2016 bumped him down as best prospect at centreback. Both were invited to training camp for the Impact but only Meilleur-Guiguère managed to get a spot, and was later sent to Ottawa.” 

Temguia was in Tampa with the Impact for a preseason tournament hosted by the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He joined FC Cincinnati in nearby Bradenton to play the match against Ottawa as a trialist.

What has the reaction been to the dissolution of FC Montréal locally? Do people/media generally think it was the right move for the club?

“Fans barely made their way to FC Montreal games. In 2015, the games were free of charge and no one came. In 2016, the games moved to the Impact’s former home and ticket prices rose to $10—and $5 for season ticket holders with the money going in part to the Impact’s foundation—and still barely no one came. One of the reasons for cutting the team was costs and the fact that the team wants to concentrate on a select few prospects and not field a team of 23. When the Impact announced they were shutting down FC Montreal and affiliating with Ottawa, the only ones who reacted to the news were the few that went to the games and a small portion of the media.”

Orange and Blue Press Reaction

This was an absolutely mandatory signing for Koch before embarking on the 2017 campaign. Mélé Temguia brings depth, size, and potential to FC Cincinnati’s central defense.

Mélé will provide needed depth for a defense that is very thin at center back, especially with Austin Berry injured. At 6’2”, he has good size, which will benefit FC Cincinnati against physical strikers like Romario Williams and Heviel Cordoves, who we’ll see this Saturday. He also brings youth and potential to the central defense. At age 21, he’s still a developing player and can grow his game under Koch with Delbridge (25), Berry (28), and Nicholson (30) to aide the process.

He acquitted himself well in the match he played against Ottawa in February. He made a few timely interventions, and looked comfortable with the ball in a match that ended 1-1. Paul Nicholson is still most likely to start this weekend given how fresh this signing is, but Temguia is a natural center back and could push for minutes early.

FC Cincinnati kicks off its 2017 USL season against the Charleston Battery in South Carolina this Saturday. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati’s upcoming season.

*Tristan D’Amours is a coordinating editor at The Link and an MLS staff writer for SBI Soccer.

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Photo courtesy of Montréal Impact