A change of coaches brought about a much needed change in attitude for FC Cincinnati.
After one week, Yoann Damet has helped guide the Orange and Blue to a key three points in a much-needed win over Montreal, and if he is feeling the pressure he sure doesn’t show it.
When asked after practice if he was enjoying his new role, Damet was quick to smile, stating, “Yes, of course.”
At 29 years old, Damet might be the youngest head coach in Major League Soccer but in his first game Damet showed the FCC faithful he is wise beyond his years, making key changes while providing a calming influence.
Damet was greeted with a season in a tailspin and quickly swapped up not only the personnel but also the formation and approach in leading the Orange and Blue to a much needed 2-1 win over Montreal Impact last weekend, ending a seven-game winless drought for FCC.
While the Orange and Blue stayed true to the 4-2-3-1 former coach Alan Koch preferred, Damet added some wrinkles that proved to be positives for FCC.
After practice this week Damet vowed to make FCC more versatile, choosing to switch up personnel and formations for each opponent as opposed to Koch’s efforts to stay true to a system despite multiple lineups.
One big area FCC fans quickly noticed was the Orange and Blue’s desire to work the ball from the back, stringing together short passes, maintaining possession instead of the old style of kick it long and hope the center striker can hold it until the rest caught up or go one-on-four with no support.
“I think it’s all about the positioning and we will work on that, how we want to build up in terms of which space, which players we want to find,” Damet said. “So we had a little tweak to build up against Montreal, and I think every week we need to find a little tweak that will work against different opposition.”
Victor Ulloa continued his role as a center midfielder against Montreal but Damet’s formation would quickly transfer to a 3-4-3 at times with Ulloa holding in the middle with newly installed center back Justin Hoyte, while Leonardo Bertone was able to get forward more than in past games.
In transition, Ulloa become more of a holding center with Hoyte, making his first start of the year at center back, falling back in line with Kendall Waston. FCC also had a big boost with the return of Greg Garza at outside back.
Hoyte said the move inside from his normal outside back spot was comfortable.
“Physically it was lot easier because I didn’t have to run up and down so much,” Hoyte said. “It felt good. It was nice to get out there and play at center back which is kind of a new position some of the fans might not have seen me play. I have trained there a lot in training and I felt quite comfortable there.”
Damet said it wasn’t a tough decision to put Hoyte in the middle.
“His abilities and tactical knowledge helped us,” Damet said. “[Hoyte] helps us building up from the back and he brings experience. We went for an experienced backline and I think he did well.”
Ulloa benefitted in his newfound role, earning a spot on the MLS seven-man team of the week.
Hoyte and Ulloa both enhanced the short passing game, which was a big change as FCC completed 401 passes alone in the first half, beating their 400.5 passes per game the club averaged in the previous 11 matches.
Fatai Alashe had seen little playing time under Koch but his second half goal, in only his third minute of play, proved to the game-winner.
While the locker room had deteriorated under Koch, Damet seems to have provided the necessary spark with his players-first attitude. Damet also provided Frankie Amaya his first start of the season.
Coming off the big win, Damet said the message was simple to his squad.
“The same thing. We need to focus on us and keep preparing yourself,” Damet said. “There are things we need to improve and the best way to do this is look at yourself and try to find a solution which helps the team.”
When asked about the positive response the team had to him in a mid week change, Damet said his approach will remain the same.
“I said it last week, we are trying to find a solution, a positive and different environment to make them successful,” Damet said. “We are fully focused and involved in that process and we are putting a lot of work into it.”
FCC looks to take another step forward, travelling to Florida to play Orlando City Sunday.