Every MLS has its own approach on how to handle the time off during the league’s suspension.
For a team like FC Cincinnati that is still relatively new to the league, the allocation of time is going to be different than a more established club, as interim head coach Yoann Damet outlined on a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
Beyond just the steps the club has taken to try and keep players fit during the training moratorium, Damet said he and his staff have been focusing on projects geared towards implementing a long-term vision and philosophy for a club that only has one MLS season under its belt.
“Being home gives us more time to work on some side projects that we would still be doing during the season, but would be more challenging to devote a lot of time to,” Damet said. “During the season, we might speak about something for one hour each week for four weeks, now we can do it in two days because we can be on a call for 2-3 hours and discuss it and find solutions and find ideas and get some thoughts on the table on how we can do it and how we can implement it in the future.
“We’re adding a lot and a lot of meetings working on how we can implement that long-term vision, that long-term club philosophy? There’s a lot of things we can do with these type of meetings, put in place presentations that summarize our timeline, how we’re going to do things.”
One part of that, Damet said, is using the time off to focus on the club’s recently established youth academy. Damet spent years coaching on the youth circuit before taking a job with FC Cincinnati as an assistant, and is in the midst of his second stint as the club’s interim boss. The coach said that experience made him realize the importance of having a connection between the academy and the first-team players.
To foster that connection with FC Cincinnati, Damet said he plans on setting up position groups where academy players can pick the brains of first-team players and hopefully soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“I want to increase that relationship with the academy,” Damet explained. “I’ve worked in an academy before so I know what it is for the kids to look up to the players on the first team and be like, ‘I want to be like this guy, I want to be doing the same thing, I want to be doing the same thing in three, four, five years.'
“So, the idea that we’re going to try and implement next week is creating small groups of players that will be available for the same players at the same position within the academy and do Q&As, so the fullbacks are going to be with the fullbacks in the academy and the young players are going to ask questions to the first-team players, just to build up that sort of relationship.”
The idea of reflecting on the work that’s been done to this point to establish long-term goals, and figuring out how to implement them, is one that Damet said he’s trying to emphasize on an individual basis for the players, as well as for himself and the rest of the staff.
“The first project was: How can we self-reflect on what we’ve done in the past two months?” Damet said. “So we sent out a questionnaire to the players last week to self-reflect, but also reflect on their goals for the season, their short-term goals, their long-term goals, but also what their plan is to reach those goals and how can we have an impact on those plans.
“It’s important for the players, but it’s also important for the staff and the people in the club," he added. "There’s also a lot of self-reflection: How can we get better in this period? How can we watch over games, get information on the other teams in the league? We’re just trying to maximize the time and be proactive for when we can get back to the training facilities.”