It was an unseasonably cool day in Tucson, Arizona, on Tuesday, but temperatures in the upper 40s with a brisk wind did little to damper Ron Jans’ mood.
“Today it’s a little bit chilly,” said Jans by phone. “But the sun is still shining.”
The FC Cincinnati manager wasn’t speaking metaphorically about the sun shining on his club, but he could have been.
Earlier that morning about 1,800 miles away, Dutch international Jürgen Locadia had his introductory press conference after his loan was announced on Monday, giving Jans a veteran attacker with experience at the highest levels of European football and some versatility.
Locadia, 26, arrived on loan from Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion and is expected to join the team in Bradenton, Florida, upon receipt of his international transfer certificate and P1 visa when the primary transfer window opens on Feb. 12.
“I’m pretty happy with him coming over,” Jans said. “I’ve known Jürgen for a long time. He proved since he was a young boy that when you say Locadia, you think of scoring goals. The advantage with Jürgen is he is very fit. On the physical side, there’s no problem. He just has to adjust to the team and learn the quality of his teammates and the playing style.”
When asked how Locadia fits into the current roster, Jans said he could play as a center forward or an attacking winger and that he should help complement the players who already are in camp, such as Brandon Vazquez and Yuya Kubo.
Jans also hinted that one more piece to FCC’s puzzle could be coming soon, something corroborated by reporters who while attending Locadia’s introductory press conference, observed Moroccan midfielder Adrien Regattin in the building.
“Maybe there’s still one coming, you never know,” said Jans, somewhat coyly. “We would like to have one more player who can play on the wings or between the lines. If that one is coming, I’m satisfied with our roster and our depth. We have a lot of options now.”
Until Locadia, or possibly Regattin, arrive at training, Jans still has some important decisions to make.
FCC is scheduled to play its third preseason match against USL championship side El Paso Locomotive FC on Wednesday. It’s the final fixture in Tucson before the club departs for Florida after a brief layover in Cincinnati.
Although preseason results are meaningless in the grand scheme of things, Jans made it clear over the past couple of days that on Wednesday he’s expecting a performance more akin to the preseason opener – a 3-0 win over USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC – and less like the 4-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. It was the lack of execution on Saturday — not necessarily the score — that bothered Jans most and had nothing to do with the opponents.
“I would like to see big improvement,” he said. “I want to see the same dominance.”
At the same time, Jans must continue the process of firming up his roster for the March 1 regular-season opener at New York Red Bulls. On Wednesday, Jans will make some changes to how the minutes are divvied up. In the first two matches, players were grouped into 45-minute increments. On Wednesday, Jans said some players will go 60 minutes, others 30. Only the goalkeeper will play the full 90. He didn’t say which keeper. Spencer Richey and Przemyslaw Tyton each played 45 minutes last time out.
One impending decision of particular interest to FCC fans is that of midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin, who has drawn praise from Jans for his attitude and work ethic in camp. Jans said a decision on McLaughlin’s status for the 2020 roster could be made within the next few days.
“Before we go to Florida, the situation with Jimmy will be obvious,” Jans said. “We will know in a few days what the situation will be.”
Things are looking up on the injury front, which always is good news in the preseason. One particularly positive update from Tuesday’s conversation with Jans was the condition of Swedish defender Tom Pettersson who had been dealing with a groin issue.
“He is back in training,” Jans said. “In Florida, he will start to come back to the group. He’s very positive. The recovery is going well.”
Jans expects the intensity of training to pick up over the next week or so. Once the club arrives in the Sunshine State, he expects everyone to be in regular-season mode. Also, by then he could have a couple new attackers in the fold.
“We are in week three, and that is when it starts to get a little more intense,” Jans said. “When we get to Florida, we will improve that.”