After a positive start under interim coach Yoann Damet, FC Cincinnati looks to win back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history Sunday when it faces Orlando City SC.
It has been a whirlwind for Damet, who took over FCC (3-2-7) following their firing of Alan Koch last week. With the club seeking a general manager before tabbing its next permanent manager, Damet is essentially having a live audition for the role. There is no lack of names being rumored for the job, most notably former Manchester United manager David Moyes since he has a nephew who plays nearby at Northern Kentucky.
Damet was able to cobble together a plan on short notice that helped the Orange and Blue defeat the Montreal Impact 2-1 on May 11 to end a five-match losing streak. Allan Cruz ended the club’s 528-minute goalless drought with an early strike in the seventh minute, and Fatai Alashe doubled the margin on 62 minutes.
Cincinnati held out for all three points after conceding in the 75th minute, and Damet’s primary goal is to continue building his side’s identity which will allow the club to impose its style on opponents.
“We need to focus on us,” Damet told the club’s official website. “We need to keep preparing ourselves. There is still a lot of things we want to implement and the best way to do it is to look at ourselves and try to find the solution within the team.”
Having Greg Garza healthy helps FCC greatly to that end. The left back returned after a five-match absence due to a calf injury and played the full 90 minutes for the first time since April 7 as Cincinnati improved to 3-1-2 in the six matches he has played.
Garza’s play has caught the attention of U.S. national coach Gregg Berhalter, who hinted a call-up may be coming next month for international friendlies ahead of the Gold Cup, including a June 9 match at Nippert Stadium versus Venezuela.
“He’s a guy that’s on our radar,” Berhalter said. “We’ll continue to monitor him. We hope he gets back to full fitness. We know he’s an important player for FC Cincinnati and it’s just managing all those constraints to be able to forward in the right way that helps both the country and the club.”
Orlando City SC (3-3-6) enters this match one point ahead of FC Cincinnati for 10th in the East and out to end a three-match skid. The Lions have a tough turnaround for this contest after flying cross-country to face Seattle and losing 2-1 on Wednesday night.
James O’Connor rotated his squad with an eye to pick up points for this match, giving starts to Josue Coleman, Benji Michel, and Santiago Patino – all 22 and younger. Orlando City put itself in position for a point in the final quarter-hour after Christopher Mueller scored – the first Lions player other than Nani to score since April 6 – but could not grab an equalizer.
The Lions have struggled at home in the early going, collecting just seven points from six matches. They have trailed 2-0 in four of those matches and been behind at some point in all but one of them.