With MLS on hold, FC Cincinnati has taken the opportunity to find a new manager.
Former Manchester United and Netherlands defender Jaap Stam has been tabbed to replace countryman Ron Jans, who resigned in February after an investigation into his use of racist slurs.
Stam most recently managed at Feyenoord in his native Netherlands, where he also coached at PEC Zwolle and Ajax's youth team. That sandwiched a two-year stint at Reading in England.
He figures to arrive in Cincinnati when travel conditions make that plausible and will take the reins from interim manager Yoann Damet, who filled that role for a second straight year after doing so following the firing of the club's inaugural MLS manager, Alan Koch.
Stam, who also played at Lazio, AC Milan, PSV and Ajax among the clubs he represented in his decorated career, has a previous working relationship with FCC general manager Gerard Nijkamp. When Stam was at Zwolle, Nijkamp was the technical director (Nijkamp had also hired Jans to be Zwolle's coach back in 2013).
“He has an extensive background in being part of some of the most successful clubs in the world as a player and has also proven that he can guide teams through transitionary periods as a head coach," Nijkamp said in a club statement.
The club's announcement wasn't without fault. In its initial tweet, with a photo welcoming Stam, it used a picture of a different bald Dutchman. It corrected itself, but not before the damage across social media–especially in the club's replies–was done.
When FCC resumes play remains to be seen. MLS is in a holding pattern, though the league is reportedly attempting to bring all of the league's 26 teams to one location to resume in some capacity this summer.
After a brutal 2019 expansion season in which FCC conceded an MLS-record 75 goals, won just six games and earned a league-worst 24 points, the club began 2020 with a pair of one-goal road losses to the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United (which is coached by one of Stam's former Netherlands teammates, Frank de Boer). The club made a splash in the transfer market over the winter, bringing in the likes of Jurgen Locadia, Yuya Kubo and Siem de Jong in an effort to improve.
“For myself, to get the opportunity to work in America and to work in MLS for a club like FC Cincinnati, it’s a dream,” Stam said. “I’ve always liked the country and I’ve always liked the mentality of the people in the States as well in what they’re trying to achieve.
“To get the opportunity to work for FC Cincinnati and this project by building the club–hopefully even further than where they already are, because I think they’ve already done a great job–but being a presence as a team, even more in MLS, getting results and working together with the fans and everybody already working within the club, for me it’s a big challenge to do well.”
It will hope for vast improvement and positive momentum over the next year, as it prepares to move into its new West End stadium in 2021 after playing its home matches at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.
“I strongly believe that Jaap can lead us through our next phase, to our new stadium, and help us achieve our goals in the future, making players better and bringing his knowledge and experience inside the club. I have full confidence that he will be successful at FC Cincinnati and will be a great fit to carry out our established playing philosophy and guide the club to achieve future successes,” Nijkamp said.