As Ron Jans leads his first training session Tuesday as head coach of FC Cincinnati, it marks another step in the Dutch revolution taking root in southwestern Ohio.
After FC Cincy hired Dutchman Gerard Nijkamp to oversee soccer operations, the GM appointed his countryman Jans as head coach. This comes after adding Dutch center back Maikel van der Werf as Nijkamp's first signing a month ago.
It's only a little bit on purpose.
"You are a little bit subjective in getting your people, but the most important thing is quality, expertise and experience," Nijkamp told reports on a conference call Monday. "To build that philosophy and playing style, it’s not only to play 4-3-3 or play high or to play low in defense. It’s a philosophy and playing style, how we want to be on and off the pitch. Are they coming from Japan, America or the Netherlands? We’re looking for that.
"Now it’s a little bit more going with Dutch people, but I’m sure in the future we’ll find other good people when I’m a little bit longer in my job. At the end of the day, it’s all about quality, not about nationality.”
It makes sense. Nijkamp and Jans experienced success together at PEC Zwolle and are looking to recreate something similar in Cincinnati. The pair led Zwolle to their first major trophy, winning the KNVB Cup by thrashing Frank de Boer and Ajax 5-1, which qualified Zwolle for the qualifying rounds of the Europa League for the first time in club history.
The Dutch way of soccer, rooted often in an attack-minded 4-3-3 with satisfying possession and aggressive defending, would be a welcome aesthetic for Cincy, who have a league-worst -32 goal difference in 2019.
Truth be told, though, Jans didn't reveal particulars by way of playing style.
“For myself and the fans, I hope you enjoy watching the team, enjoy watching the football," Jans said. "You do not only defend away from the space and play counterattack football, but take initiative. If possible, press high. If you lose the ball, recover the ball as soon as possible. Not just kick the ball forward, but find an extra man. Create chances and score goals.”
Keep possession, play eloquent soccer, win the ball back immediately and score goals. Got it.
Still, it's a start. At Cincinnati, like Zwolle, Jans will be looking to check off a lot of firsts. The expansion side hasn't had an easy first season in MLS, evident by their standing at the bottom of the league and the fact that they underwent a coaching search less than two months after playing their first top-flight game.
There's a big first this weekend.
Jans' debut match in charge will be the first MLS iteration of the "Hell is Real" derby against in-state rivals Columbus Crew SC (Saturday 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada).
“We won’t reach the playoffs this season," Jans admitted. "Hopefully in the future. But we can gain some confidence and pride in beating the Columbus Crew. It’s my first opponent, it’s a special one for the fans and special for me too.”