It has only been a few hours since John Harkes was relieved of his duties as manager of FC Cincinnati and I am just now getting my head wrapped around it. Initially, I was in shock and disbelief but now I have started to consume the loss of John Harkes. The reality is that FCC is more than a manager, FCC is more than any one player, and FCC is more than anyone person. FC Cincinnati became successful because of this city, Cincinnati, even Jeff Berding has stated that.
The change of a manager is pretty traumatic and I know this was not part of the plan that the front office had mapped out 18 months ago. I mean who expects to hire a manager, finish third in points within the entire USL and 5 months after the initial season ended, dismiss your head coach. This is Cincinnati though and this is also sports and like any other sport here, there are moments of uncertainty and as fans have to believe in our team, that is something I am going to do.
FC Cincinnati was derived from many people but none has been more important than Jeff Berding. Jeff’s vision and connections launched this team and without that there is no John Harkes from the start. I am sure I will critique Jeff at some point in time, but this is not one of those moments. With what little information of what transpired, I have to trust the decisions of Jeff, Carl Linder III, and the rest of the front office. The best analogy I can think of is, Jeff is like an old world explorer sailing off into the great unknown in search of new discoveries. Old world explorers discovered many a new thing based on their vision, while Jeff is currently navigating the rough waters of professional soccer in search of the next discovery (MLS). The days are not always as easy, but Jeff is navigating these times with his vision. Make no bones about it, Jeff is in charge and he needs to keep the ship on course by whatever means.
Jeff has brought in Alan Koch (pronounced “Kaw-ch”), who actually has a very good track record as a manager. Koch began is head coaching experience in 2006 with Baker University where he guided them to the NCAA Regional semifinals in his second year. In 2009 he moved to Simon Fraser University located in Vancouver, British Columbia leading the Simon Fraser Clan on the pitch. While there he received numerous accolades including “All Coach of the Year” (2009 & 2010). In 2011 Koch lead the Clan to the first top 25 ranking in NCAA history by a non-American school. From there Koch helped lead Team Canada and then eventually ended up with the Vancouver Whitecaps. While with the Whitecaps Koch’s talents were utilized in many ways, maybe most significantly his ability to identify talent for the MLS side. Koch also managed the Whitecaps USL side, again allowing him to stay in a tactical role as well. All this occurred before his move to FC Cincinnati, where he is now the manager in charge.
So where does this leave us, the fans? I think the saying goes “Wherever they will go, I will follow.” It is time to move forward into the unknown and trust Jeff and our new manager, Alan Koch. I’m going to go with a Jeff Berding type theme this year, “The pursuit of 62!” (Goals that is)