Jeff Berding – FC Cincinnati – presser

CINCINNATI, OHIO – Why is Alan Koch out as head coach of FC Cincinnati? He couldn’t cultivate the right culture or maximize roster talent, according to president and general manager Jeff Berding.

“When you’re in a work environment, and the culture’s great, you know it,” said Berding at a Tuesday’s press conference. “When you’re in a work environment that’s not, you know that, too. We’re constantly evaluating. We’re constantly trying to improve and try to have continual improvement. That comes with a level of self-awareness that starts with me, and everyone within the organization.” 

“We need to do better in terms of building a culture, to begin to develop a positive identity.” Berding continued. “We think a change was required to make that happen.” 

Koch joined FC Cincinnati in 2016 as an assistant coach, as well as the director of scouting and analytics. He was promoted to the head coaching job shortly thereafter, under turbulent circumstances following the firing of FC Cincinnati’s first coach, John Harkes.  

While in charge, Koch had success in both the U.S. Open Cup and in the lower leagues. FC Cincinnati made a semifinal run to the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and won the USL regular-season championship the following season. Berding thought Koch could duplicate those successes in MLS.

“When starting the season, I was very confident that we would be successful,” said Berding. “I want to stress I didn’t define success in terms of results. I defined success in terms of culture. I defined success in terms of building a foundation, developing an identity. I think when you have those things, success comes. It might not come immediately. But it is the result of when you have a strong foundation and a strong culture.” 

Despite a few early-season successes in 2019, results have not come for the expansion team, as they’re 2-7-2 overall. Cincy also has lost six of their last seven matches, scoring only one goal (from the penalty spot) during that stretch.

The team now turns to assistant coach, Yoann Damet, to fill the void while the team conducts an international search for Koch’s replacement. Damet, at 29, is expected to lead a squad that Berding has full confidence in.

“We believe in our players,” Berding said. “We believe we have a long way to go before we’ve maximized the talents in the locker room. The players believe in each other, and they are going to rally together with this fresh start to show that we have a ways to go before we’ve maximized the talent of the group.”

In the midst of Koch’s departure, Berding didn’t absolve himself of responsibility for the team’s situation. Rather, he feels this is the best way to move forward and salvage the expansion side’s 2019 season.

“I take full responsibility,” said Berding. “I’m the president and general manager of this club. Ultimately, that makes me responsible for everything. Every single day, we’re thinking of how I can do better, how the president can do better, how the GM can do better. I’m very aware and ultimately I do bear responsibility.”