FC Cincinnati lost their fifth straight game, and their sixth in their last seven, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss at the San Jose Earthquakes, a setback made particularly galling by the fact that they played with a man advantage for the final 40-plus minutes.
And the expansion side’s frustration is building, as star striker Fanendo Adi showed with some very frank postgame comments.
“We just need to have an identity. We don’t have an identity yet,” Adi told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Pat Brennan. “Of course, we’re a new team and a bunch of new players but we change formation and, you know, it’s no good. We just have to have an identity and that’s what is missing right now.”
Adi made his first appearance since March 17, entering as a substitute in place of Justin Hoyte in the 79th minute after a stint on the sidelines due to injury and an assessment by MLS's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program after being cited for Operating a Vehicle Impaired by the Ohio State Highway Patrol on March 31.
One of Cincy’s two Designated Players alongside midfielder Allan Cruz, Adi called some of head coach Alan Koch’s personnel decisions into question just a few days after Koch himself said FCC “need to find additional players” to improve their chances.
“We have quality players, good players enough. Obviously, we’re playing a lot of players out of position and this is something we need to identify,” said the Nigerian target man. “We can’t play guys out of position and expect them to be excellent in those positions where they don’t play.
“You know, I’m a character that can speak out but you just have to support the coaches as well and try to do what is right,” he added. “He knows why he plays guys out of position but I think we just need to realize that guys can be played out of position and that affects the team. The identity is missing."
Adi’s return could be central to FCC’s efforts to ignite an attack which has not scored a single goal during their five-game losing skid. Cincinnati have not hit the net in match play since Darren Mattocks' 19th-minute goal in a 1-1 draw vs. Sporting KC on Apr. 7.
“We have the strikers not scoring,” said Adi in San Jose. “We have Darren who has played. [Kekuta] Manneh has played and I played a few games before I got injured but, you know, you can’t just go into the game and defend or play for the team as strikers. As a striker, you need to score goals. We need to start creating chances for the forwards. It’s very vital because if a forward scores a goal, he has a lot of confidence and that gives confidence to the whole team.”