Jaap Stam reassures FC Cincinnati after losing his first MLS match: “We’re just at the start”

Jaap Stam - July 2020 - MLS is Back Tournament

While it was clearly not the desired result in his MLS coaching debut, Jaap Stam said there is no panic in his squad following FC Cincinnati’s4-0 defeat to Columbus Crew SC Saturday night in the MLS is Back Tournament.

This, he said, is just the beginning of a long road ahead.

“We can see within the squad and within the roster and the players we have what we can do, what we need to do,” Stam said. “But as I said before, the start has just begun. The players need to get fit. We need to learn to play in a certain way and defend in a certain way and that takes time. And hopefully we can improve very quickly.”

Stam said he liked his team’s start, but after missing an early chance and conceding inside the opening half hour, that disappointment quickly spread through his side and the result was a two-goal deficit less than three minutes later.

“Sometimes when you’re making mistakes then players get disappointed. The only thing is – and we’ve addressed that within the team – that we’re just at the start and we need to improve,” Stam said. “We knew that from the beginning. In soccer there’s always disappointment. But you need to stay positive and positive to your teammates. If you concede you need to keep going … there’s a lot of minutes to be played to get back into the game. That’s what we need to do and not be disappointed in what happened. You can be, but you need to pick yourself up and you need to coach and help each other.”

In addition to the mental aspect, there were tactical mistakes that proved costly. At times FC Cincinnati were between ideas, which led to gaping spaces defensively Crew SC were able to exploit.

“I think, as a team, we weren’t sticking together and trying to press a little bit but trying to drop in as well,” midfielder Siem De Jong said. “And I think we opened up the game too much and gave them too much space and these are moments as a team we need to learn from and build on. First game anything can happen, but this is of course not what you wanted.”

FC Cincinnati will try to rebound when they meet Atlanta United Thursday (9 am ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN) in a must-win Group E game for both teams. It’s a difficult challenge, but Cincy will go into it with hard lessons learned.

“If you’re not sharp enough and aggressive enough at certain times and you play against good teams, you get punished,” Stam said.