What a difference a few familiar faces made for FC Cincinnati.
A week after a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Minnesota United FC, FCC rebounded to stun the Houston Dynamo 3-2 with the much-needed aid of some returning players from the Gold Cup.
FCC were buoyed by the return of some key players including Kendall Waston, the team captain who recently signed a contract extension. It was Waston’s first match with FCC since May 25.
Allan Cruz made a huge impact in the midfield in his return from Gold Cup play with his steal leading to the opening goal. With Cruz alongside Leonardo Bertone — who was suspended vs Minnesota — the center of the pitch was a strength for FCC.
Kekuta Manneh tallied his team-leading third goal and Rashawn Dally continued to impress, notching his first Major League Soccer goal in only his third MLS appearance. Behind that flurry FCC jumped out to a 3-0 margin, then held on late to snap a six-game losing streak.
Head coach Yoann Damet was hopeful the win was a catalyst as the Orange and Blue travel to SeatGeek Stadium this Saturday to play the Chicago Fire.
“It is important to the group to confirm the good performance against Houston,” Damet said. “We want to make sure we produce the same content against (Chicago) and get the win away from home.”
Justin Hoyte and Mathieu Deplagne continue to play well in the back and with Waston restored the roster, FCC were much stronger on defense despite the late goals allowed.
“I was very pleased with what we produced defensively,” Damet said. “I think we were way more aggressive trying to defend the forwards. Now is all about consistency to do it over the course of the 90 minutes and show up in the second half and do it in the second 45 minutes.“
Damet said it was important for the players to get the three points after the winless streak.
“I am happy for them,” Damet said. “They have worked very hard the past few weeks. It's been very difficult for all of us not to get results. We all have been affected by that but we all came back every week ready to work and ready to push each other more. That’s an important reward for the group. I hope we can build momentum and produce these kinds of results in the future. “
Emmanuel Ledesma had a solid effort, assisting on two goals while earning a spot on the MLS Team of Week starting squad. He now leads FCC with three assists.
“It feels really good,” Ledesma of the honors. “ But it feels good because we are winning. We played an amazing game. I want to thank my teammates because they put me on the team of the week.”
Ledesma acknowledged his confidence is gaining with his minutes improving week by week.
“Yes, the more I play the more confident I get,” he said. “We won and now we go to Chicago with a lot of confidence.”
Manneh tallied the first goal off a long pass from Ledesma, something he said they work on.
“Yes, that is what I said to him: ‘When I get the ball just start running,’” Ledesma said. “He is so fast so when I got the ball he just started running and I put it in from of him.”
FCC are expected to be active during the transfer period. The Orange and Blue picked up Dutch center back Maikel van der Werft, a move which will strengthen the back line.
In other Dutch news for the Orange and Blue, Ron Jans, the former PEC Zwolle manager, has confirmed he has been approached by FCC GM Gerard Nijkamp about the head coaching vacancy.
GAME: FC Cincinnati (4-13-2) vs. Chicago Fire (5-8-7)
DATE: Saturday, July 13
KICKOFF: 8 PM ET
LOCATION: SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois
BROADCAST: ESPN+ / FloFC (local)