Friday's soccer news starts with a new coach for FC Cincinnati. The MLS club announced the hiring of former Dutch international Jaap Stam after parting ways with Ron Jans in February. Yoann Damet has been serving as interim coach, his second stint in that role. Stam resigned as coach of Feyenoord in October.
"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," GM Gerard Nijkamp said. "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."
Stam would be in an interesting situation for a coach new to MLS who spent no time in the league as a player. Add in the issues with restarting the league following the coronavirus suspension, and this is a difficult assignment. FC Cincinnati finished last in MLS in their expansion season. The changes that they made for 2020 haven't had the time to show if they'll work in a tricky Eastern Conference.
How MLS returns is still in doubt, with The Athletic's staff reporting on an internal MLS document about the proposal to stage a tournament in Orlando. If that proposal holds, Cincinnati would play in either a six or eight-team group of Eastern Conference teams with two advancing. Those group stage games would count as league games. Should the league be able to continue its season, the only games would be in-conference, with nine eventually advancing in an 18-team playoff. Nashville would shift to the East in this scenario, with that conference at 14 teams. That would mean five missing the playoffs.
Having both expansion teams in the same conference may work in Cincinnati's favor. The novelty of playing a single-site tournament in Orlando might as well, assuming some version of that plan goes ahead. This disrupted version of the 2020 season may favor some teams over others in ways that aren't predictable. That sets aside convincing players that this type of plan makes sense. Staging all league games at one site seems to be losing momentum in other North American pro sports leagues. It becomes more difficult as states reopen and make it clear that closed door games are allowable.
For Cincinnati, it's tough to turn 2020 into a mandate season regardless of what happens. An abnormal situation could lead to anomalous results, but even a best case scenario for the club doesn't necessarily point to a way forward. Stam is reportedly on an 18-month contract. Given the current situation, he may be well into next season before there's a clear idea of where he can take this club.
Also in the soccer news, SI.com's Avi Creditor previews matchday 27 in the Bundesliga. The Independent's Miguel Delaney explains what happens if individual players refuse to resume the Premier League season. BBC Sport on Milans' San Siro stadium not getting historic protection to prevent its demolition.
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Logo courtesy of FC Cincinnati