MILFORD, Ohio – After narrowly missing out on Tab Ramos’ roster for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, FC Cincinnati rookie midfielder Frankie Amaya is focused on turning the disappointment into a successful first MLS season.
“Tab called me and he just said I didn’t make the team,” explained Amaya, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. “We had a good conversation. No hard feelings.
“It was kind of sad hearing the news. But I’m just going to bounce back and move on from that. I’m not going to sit and cry all day about that, and just focus on Cincinnati right now.”
Despite 10 appearances for the United States U-20 team, including a Concacaf U-20 Championship win, Amaya’s name was absent from the roster release last Friday. Ramos instead selected a midfield highlighted by Paxton Pomykal of FC Dallas, Chris Durkin of D.C. United and several European-based prospects. Without Amaya, the US will begin Group D play May 24 against Ukraine, then also face Nigeria and Qatar.
Earlier this season, FC Cincinnati had loaned Amaya to the USL Championship’s Orange County SC so the 18-year-old could reconnect with loved ones and showcase his talents ahead of this summer’s tournament.
“It was a good feeling just going back home and seeing my family,” said the Santa Ana, Calif., native. “I haven’t seen my family in a while. It gave me some energy. But Orange County SC really helped because I got games and I got minutes. Just the setting and the coaching style there is kind of the same as here. It was a good feeling going back.”
Now, Amaya has an opportunity to channel his World Cup disappointment into a burgeoning career with the expansion team. Yoann Damet, who took over as FC Cincinnati’s interim head coach last week, gave Amaya a vote of confidence on Saturday by starting him against the Montreal Impact.
This seems like a nothing play, but it's not. Montreal live for those 50/50s, and Amaya's in there not just winning the first ball, but drawing a foul like a veteran.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) May 11, 2019
Kid's a real soccer player. #CINvMTL pic.twitter.com/XoiB2qmWAO
“He’s training well, he’s showing some good things offensively,” Damet said of Amaya after the 2-1 win. “He's coachable. He wants to learn. He gives everything. … He went through different emotions during the week. He reacted in a good way, and he showed it on the field. I was happy for him, and it’s a good way to move on and keep growing as a player.”
Amaya played 59 minutes in that match as part of a central midfield trio. He produced a 91 percent passing accuracy, two key passes and earned three fouls. He was replaced by the more-experienced Fatai Alashe as the club protected a one goal lead, ultimately snapping a five-game losing streak.
“I’m just going to keep my head down and keep working hard every day in training,” said Amaya. “We have five days of training left [before Orlando City SC on Sunday] and I’m just going to try to improve myself every day.