Sidelined since Week 3, Fanendo Adi returned to the pitch for FC Cincinnati as a substitute in the 79th minute on Saturday as the team fell 1-0 to San Jose Earthquakes.
Following an extended absence from the team in the aftermath of an injury and a suspension, the star striker did not mince words about his club’s recent run of form. FC Cincinnati remains winless in its last seven games, including losing five in a row by shutout.
“We just need to have an identity, we don’t have an identity yet,” Adi said. “Of course, we’re a new team and a bunch of new players.
“But we change formation and you know, it’s no good. We just have to have an identity and that’s what’s missing right now. We have quality players, good players enough. Obviously, we’re playing a lot of players out of position and this is something we need to identify. We can’t play guys out of position and expect them to be excellent in those positions where they don’t play.
“Obviously, I’m a character that can speak out but you just have to support the coaches as well and try to do what is right so he [Alan Koch] knows why he plays guys out of position, but I think we just need to realize that guys can be played out of position and that affects the team and the identity is missing, of course, it’s something where we need to double up.”
All things considered, the remarks are hasty given Adi’s situation, but the first of their kind to come out of the FC Cincinnati camp.
Managing an expansion side is tough for anyone, and head coach Alan Koch has been brutally realistic about that fact. While he hasn’t been dealt a fair hand with respect to the runway up to his MLS head coaching debut, Koch is ultimately responsible for owning the team’s 2-7-2 line through Week 11.
Adi’s remarks leave much to speculate about.
Koch mentioned that he was hopeful about adding pieces ahead of Wednesday’s transfer window deadline after Saturday’s game, but if nothing happens it may be indicative of how the brass of FC Cincinnati views Koch’s immediate future at the helm.
As the winless skid grows, it’s fair to wonder if Adi’s remarks are apt. It’s fair to wonder what Adi’s motivation for the remarks might be.
Before the season started, he was critical about the roster that surrounds him.
Adi further elaborated in The Cincinnati Enquirer and didn’t stop short of saying that he, personally, will “push” President and General Manager Jeff Berding, Technical Director Luke Sassano, and Koch when he disagrees. While it shows the kind of fire fans want to see, it also isn’t the best look to blame anyone other than himself at least for now, given the nature of his recent troubles.
However, his remarks are compelling. That doesn’t have a threshold of time, but if nobody else on the team expresses that they back Adi on his take, he runs the risk of alienating himself even further.
It doesn’t seem that the intent was to create an “Adi vs Koch” narrative from the striker, but the reality is that his words are strong and of a completely different school of thought than his head coach’s and there may, in fact, be feuding mentalities.
Across all sports, the coach will go before the players on a struggling team. A star player’s tenure rarely ends harmoniously with their club.
Adi’s hasn’t started well.
As FC Cincinnati looks to right the ship, it will be interesting to see how much more leash Koch gets if can’t manage to get full buy-in from Adi.