Just 11 games into its MLS existence, struggling FC Cincinnati is moving on with a new coach.
After letting Alan Koch go earlier this week, Cincinnati aims to avoid its goalless drought and losing streak from both reaching six games Saturday against the visiting Montreal Impact.
Expansion Cincinnati (2-7-2) started its MLS era in decent form, going 2-1-1. But things have gone south since, with the club outscored 12-1 during an 0-6-1 stretch. The team's lone goal during that span came via Darren Mattocks in the 19th minute of a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on April 7.
And as the frustration continued to mount and situation apparently grew to the point of being unacceptable following last Saturday's 1-0 loss at San Jose, which played with 10 men from the 51st minute on, the club announced the dismissal of Koch as coach.
"After a series of recent issues and a team culture that had deteriorated, we determined that it's time to make a change to return a club-centered focus to the team," club president and general manager Jeff Berding said in a statement on Cincinnati's official website.
Translated: The players and front office might have lost faith in Koch and his philosophy. Koch had been with the team since 2016, during the USL years. Assistant coach Yoann Damet has been promoted to guide the team in a caretaker role as the club looks world-wide for its next full-time coach.
"Our message is that we have high ambition for this city," Berding added on the team's official website. "There's nothing that matters to me more than winning trophies for this city."
That might be a tall order, considering the focus at the moment is on scoring goals.
The latter likely won't be an easy task against Montreal (6-4-2), which has conceded just three goals while winning three of its last four contests. The Impact will eye a third consecutive road victory after winning 2-1 against the Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
Down 1-0, Montreal equalized on Zakaria Diallo's goal in the 64th minute and went ahead in the 79th via Max Urruti's successful penalty conversion.
"We've kind of have a team mentality and we've kept the spirit high," Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush told the league's official website. "It's proven to be a successful formula right now."
Montreal, which is tied on points atop the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia and D.C. United, has managed to fare well without injured star midfielder Ignacio Piatti (knee), who has played just three matches in 2019 and will miss a 10th straight contest this weekend.
"Sometimes you can learn the most about yourselves when you lose your top guy," Bush said. "Hopefully Nacho will come back soon, but in the meantime, we've got to keep pushing on without him."
Updated May 9, 2019