COLUMBUS, Ohio – Welcome to MLS, Ron Jans.
The newly-appointed FC Cincinnati head coach was introduced to local media last Monday. Five days later, Jans managed the biggest game in FCC’s brief history, taking charge of the Hell is Real Derby against in-state rivals Columbus Crew SC.
"I really liked the atmosphere, the intensity," Jans said of the game. "I would like to have some more derbies … I liked it a lot."
With Jans in charge of the side for the first time, Cincinnati pressed high on Crew SC early, not allowing the Black & Gold to build out of the back. The visitors took a 2-0 lead inside half an hour, shocking Columbus and sending the supporters who made the two-hour drive north into a frenzy.
While FC Cincinnati conceded twice to settle for a 2-2 draw, their performance was a delight for the fans whose team began the day at the bottom of the MLS table with just 17 points through 24 matches. The lead and the style of play, indicative of the Dutch manager’s principles, were bright spots in an otherwise forgettable debut season in MLS. It also could be a sign of what to expect from Cincinnati in the future.
"His philosophy and what he's trying to create, we can see it already," forward Darren Mattocks said of Jans. "He likes to high press, he likes to play and I think we did a really good job in the first 30, 35 minutes in the game. It was always going to be tough to sustain it for 90 minutes, especially playing on the road in a rivalry game. Definitely it's something to look for in the weeks coming."
In only a few days of training, Jans began to implement the changes he wants to make in the club during his 18-month contract to help establish a "foundation" and "playing philosophy," as general manager Gerard Nijkamp put it last week.
Despite only a few days to work with Jans, the Cincinnati players reacted well to the new coach's change in style by keeping the ball (52.8 percent possession) often with quick, precise passing. Late in the match, as Columbus pushed for a game-winner, Cincy goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton made several key saves to help his team hold on to the point.
For a first match in charge, Jans was delighted with what he saw of his team. While it's too early for him to evaluate his new league, the Dutchman is excited to learn more as he works to change the fortunes of FC Cincinnati.
"This is my first game, so I can't tell yet about MLS," he said. "But I know for sure that this is a booming league. It's getting better all the time and I'm glad to be here and be part of it."