Overall, FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans was pleased with his team’s performance in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason win over USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC, with only one regret: his team didn’t win by more.
“I think we should have scored at least five times, if you see the chances we had,” he said in a Thursday teleconference with reporters. “We created many more chances (than) we did last year. The opponent wasn’t MLS, but not so bad. I was satisfied with the execution, not so much with the finishing.”
In terms of bringing what they have been working on in practice to the pitch, Jans dubbed the match a success. Jans liked how they executed against the press, which he believes is good preparation for the season opener on March 1 at New York Red Bulls.
Now he’ll watch the tape with his technical staff, make adjustments and lay out the plan for the players on what they’ll focus on in practice leading up to Saturday’s friendly against Sporting Kansas City.
“It’s good when you put so much time into the playing style, you want to see what you practiced,” Jans said. “They showed some really good things.”
Tommy McCabe opened the scoring for FC Cincinnati with a left-footed strike following a low cross sent in by Rey Ortiz in the 22nd minute. Ortiz’s second assist came when he set up Andrew Gutman from just outside the 18-yard box to make it 2-0. Joseph-Claude Gyau capped the scoring.
There were a few notable absences from Wednesday’s match, and Jans addressed their status during the conference call.
Kekuta Manneh, who has been training on only a limited basis due to a shoulder injury, is staying on schedule, but Jans said the club is being patient with him.
“He’s doing more and more,” Jans said. “He is better.”
Fatai Alashe was kept out of Wednesday’s match due to muscle stiffness, but it is not a serious issue. Jans said Alashe was back at training on Thursday morning and is expected to play on Saturday against Sporting KC.
The news isn’t as positive for defender Tom Pettersson, who the club signed in December from Swedish top-division side Östersunds FK and has yet to debut due to a groin issue. Jans said there is no estimate yet on when Pettersson will begin training.
Jans also offered a frank assessment of Darren Mattocks’ prospects this season.
The Jamaican forward, who netted three goals with three assists last season, was absent from Wednesday’s match due to personal reasons, according to the club, but did return to Tucson on Thursday. But when asked about Mattocks’ role with the club this season, Jans said, “To be honest, he is not (in) the plans.”
There are plenty of new faces in training, of course. Seven players made their FCC preseason debuts in Wednesday’s match: Saad Abdul-Salaam, Joris Ahlinvi, Zico Bailey, Yuya Kubo, Haris Medunjanin, Rey Ortiz and Brandon Vazquez.
Jans held high praise for Medunjanin and Vazquez, in particular.
He credited Vazquez for helping create Gyau’s third goal on Wednesday. Vazquez, of course, was an understudy of Josef Martinez at Atlanta United.
“(Vazquez) was holding the ball very well,” Jans said. “He didn’t come in scoring situations, maybe one header out of a corner kick. He won the ball with the high press that made Joe Gyau score the third goal. He’s a real team player, pressing, holding the ball. He wants to score his first goal. But he has to be patient.”
Medunjanin’s leadership ability is something he brought with him from Philadelphia Union, and Jans said it has been evident in training.
“(Medunjanin) is so patient, his touch, and comfortable on the ball,” Jans said. “He’s also talking to other players about situations and helping them. He does what we expected of him and he does it well.”
Spencer Richey was the only player to see all 90 minutes on Wednesday. Jans said Richey will continue to split time with Przemyslaw Tyton, and that a decision on who will start the season in goal will be made following the match against Nashville on Feb. 16 at IMG Academy in Florida.
“After the game against Nashville, we will make the decision who will play against Reykjavik,” Jans said. “Who will play that game will start also against New York Red Bulls.”
Jans deflected questions about potential transfers, deferring to general manager Gerard Nijkamp as rumors persist that further additions could be made to the squad.
“I’m the coach. I’m not the general manager,” Jans said. “There might be some news in the coming days. I don’t want to give information about new transfers because that’s his (Nijkamp’s) job. Sorry.”