Jaap Stam is taking inspiration from Inter Miami CF as he attempts to turn around FC Cincinnati’s campaign and potentially challenge for an MLS Cup playoff spot.
Cincinnati has lost back-to-back matches and are winless in 11 straight, a run that leaves it 13th in the Eastern Conference and 13 points off the top seven, albeit with games in hand on some sides.
Inter found itself at the bottom of the overall standings in July, but has since dragged itself up the division thanks to a return of 15 points from the last 24 on offer.
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the two sides at TQL Stadium, Stam is confident that Cincinnati can also kick-start its campaign before it is too late.
“You see with games what can happen if you have this result, if you can have this win then it changes the whole dynamic of the team as well,” he said. “You get into a rhythm, you get a different feeling and then things look easier at times as well, and that’s what happened to Inter.
“That’s why we always talk about ‘OK, can we get this win? Can you have these extra points, because of that win, you can have a different feeling and it looks totally different.”
Inter has lost just one of its last eight games and has won both previous meetings with Cincinnati.
Despite an upturn in fortunes, though, Phil Neville – who knows Stam well from their playing days at Manchester United – acknowledged there is still a lot of work to do if his targets are to be achieved.
“We’ve got a stretch of games against the teams in and around us. It’s crunch time as far as our season goes,” Neville said.
“When I first arrived here people said if you win your home games you’ll get in the playoffs. If we win all six remaining home games we won’t make the playoffs; we need to win on the road. That’s the challenge ahead for us, starting with the trip to Cincinnati.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta
Acosta has set up goals in back-to-back matches for Cincinnati and now has six assists for the season, the most of any player in a single campaign for the club. The first of those assists came against Inter Miami in mid-May and with Brenner playing just off him here, the visitors cannot afford to give the attacking midfielder space to operate in.
Inter Miami – Nick Marsman
Goalkeeper Marsman played a huge part in Inter’s goalless draw with rivals Orlando City SC last week by keeping out Tesho Akindele’s early penalty. That was the Dutchman’s first MLS clean sheet in his ninth attempt, and Inter will now be seeking successive shutouts for the first time this season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Inter has recorded one-goal wins in each of its first two matches against Cincinnati, including a 3-2 home win this season. Cincinnati is the only team Inter has played more than once and have a perfect record against in MLS.
– Cincinnati is winless in a club-record 11 straight matches (D7 L4) following its recent defeat to Columbus. Cincinnati has allowed seven goals in its last two matches, both losses, after allowing just one goal in its previous four matches, all draws.
– Inter has lost only one of its last eight matches (W4 D3) following a scoreless draw against Orlando. Miami kept just its second clean sheet of the season. It has kept consecutive clean sheets just once in club history, doing so in September 2020.
– Acosta assisted on Cincinnati’s second goal against Columbus on Friday, an Isaac Atanga strike. Acosta has been involved in four of Cincinnati’s last five MLS goals (one goal, three assists).
– Inter has scored only six first-half goals this season, tied with Vancouver for the fewest in MLS. Cincinnati has allowed 17 goals before halftime, only Toronto FC (23) and Portland Timbers (22) have allowed more.