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It has been quite a year for FC Cincinnati.
From USL heavyweight to Major League Soccer expansion, FCC has seen it’s development slump, spending the last month looking for not only a new head coach after the release of Alan Koch, but also a new general manager after Jeff Berding stepped aside to focus on his role as club president.
The Orange and Blue believe they have solved half that equation with the hiring of Dutch football executive Gerard Nijkamp as the new GM, a move that, according to Berding, “will take FCC to the next level.”
Nijkamp currently serves as technical director for Eredivisie club PEC Zwolle, a position he has held since 2012.
Nijkamp oversaw PEC Zwolle’s playing philosophy, roster, scouting initiatives, analytics, youth academy, and the entire staff, including technical, medical, and football personnel.
As GM, Nijkamp will take on all the same responsibilities with FCC, reporting directly to Berding.
“At FC Cincinnati, [Gerard] will direct all soccer-related areas, including roster management, roster budget and salary cap administration, player acquisition and scouting, sporting data analysis, overseeing our first team coaching staff, sports performance and medical staffs, and of course our youth development programs,” Berding said. “In his role he will manage the first team head coach, technical director Luke Sassano, our director of sports performance, Gary Walker, who recently joined us from Manchester United, and our director of player development Larry Sunderland, who just joined us this week from Portland. “
In his introductory press conference, Nijkamp said he was happy to be here and promised the fans of Cincinnati he will do all he can to put a winner on the field.
“I am very happy and proud to be part of the FC Cincinnati family,” Nijkamp said at the FCC training site. “I would like to thank Mr. Carl Linder III and [Berding] for giving me this opportunity. I will put all my knowledge, experience, and skills into building a successful club for this wonderful city. I am looking forward to working together with our staff here at FC Cincinnati to create something special for the amazing fans in Cincinnati.”
Berding said one priority will be the next head coach at FCC, a decision Nijkamp will help oversee.
“He will be very involved in the selection of the club’s next head coach, a process which is now underway.”
FCC shot out of the gate in its expansion season, winning two early games, but the Orange and Blue have only won once since then, resulting in the dismissal of Koch and the promotion of interim coach Yoann Damet.
Nijkamp said FCC needs to build a philosophy as a club, and it is important the next coach is a perfect fit with that philosophy.
“First of all, FC Cincinnati needs a coach that can fit the culture of the club,” Nijkamp said, alluding to his task of building a culture for the club. “Trust is also important.”
Nijkamp said FCC has a long list of applicants for the head coaching position, a list he wants to work down to a smaller list and then eventually interview.
“What I think is also important is not to feel the pressure of time,” Nijkamp said. “It must be a good fit so that means if it takes more time to find this new head coach then we will take more time because it is very important for the next step we have to make for this club.”
Nijkamp helped lead PEC Zwolle to the Dutch Cup championship in 2015, a title which qualified the club for the UEFA Europa League. Under his leadership the club also claimed the 2014 Johan Cruijff Cup, also known as the Dutch Super Cup
Nijkamp plans on completing his obligation to PEC Zwolle in the next month or two, beginning full-time work with FCC Aug. 1.