CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - FC Cincinnati relieved head coach Alan Koch of his duties Tuesday morning.
Cincinnati’s professional soccer team made the announcement on Twitter along with the announcement of Yoann Damet’s promotion to interim head coach before holding a press conference with Team President and General Manager Jeff Berding.
At the time of the announcement, Berding stressed that the decision was not based on game results, but rather ‘culture.’
“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,” Berding said on the team’s website.
FCC has lost five straight games and has not scored a goal since netting a penalty kick April 7 against Sporting Kansas City.
Though clearly in the midst of a downward spiral, Berding remained adamant that Koch’s dismissal came because of "underpinnings that have led to those results.”
“We believed Alan earned the opportunity,” the GM said of his first-season MLS coach. “We had beaten MLS teams in open cup competition we had won the USL regular season championship last year in record setting format and we felt that he had earned the opportunity.”
Koch began as an assistant coach with the then-USL team in December 2016 before being promoted to head coach in February 2017.
He stayed on as head coach for the team’s first MLS season in 2019.
“I had every expectation he was going to be successful. This was never anything that was in my mind,” Berding said.
Berding said the search for a new head coach begins immediately, but would not commit to an answer on whether interim head coach Damet, 29, would be considered.
Damet joined FCC in March 2017, the team says. He came from the Montreal Impact organization and has served as the team’s top assistant coach since his arrival.
Berding said the team and front office staff have confidence in Damet’s abilities to lead the team in Koch’s departure.
He said Damet has an idea of which players fit in which positions best, a strong training regimen, and what appears to be most important to Bearding, strong culture.
“We’re going to make sure that we have a head coach coming in who is a big time proven leader not only with results but also with culture,” Berding said.
Berding declined to specify a timetable for FCC’s coaching search but said it would span worldwide and added that prior MLS coaching experience is a plus.
He says the team doesn’t have a list of potential or preferred coaches because he didn’t anticipate letting Koch go Tuesday. Berding says the team is starting from scratch.
Berding stuck firm to his point on culture, though he refused to go into detail as to what specifically about Koch signaled a ‘bad culture’ to management.
“When you’re in a work environment and the culture’s great, you know it. When you’re in an environment with a bad culture, you know it,” He said.
FCC began their inaugural MLS season by quickly climbing to a promising place in the standings.
The team lost their first game in Seattle against the Sounders but earned a draw against reigning MLS champions Atlanta United on the road.
After that, FCC climbed to a two-game win-streak before a loss and a draw turned into their five-game losing streak and scoring drought
Their last goal that was not a PK was on March 27.
Though it paints a bleak picture, Berding says he believes his team still has time to turn it around, noting the team’s talent that includes previous MLS champions.
“This is a quality group and we have plenty of time to build on those talents and to build on that mentality and to get results,” he said.
In the end, it all came back the theme of the day from Berding which is culture.
“We don’t think the culture has been the best we don’t think the foundation has been there,” he said. “We have high standards and we put a high premium on culture.”
Berding said the culture he’s been looking for has been present in the front office and in the supporters sections, but not within the team itself.
He said outside of culture, what he’s looking most forward to is bringing a trophy to Cincinnati.
“We have high ambition for this city,” Berding said. “There is nothing that matters to me more than winning trophies for this city. We are a championship city.”
Berding ended Tuesday’s press conference on a high-note, touting his favor for the Queen City and what he thinks FCC can accomplish.
“All of us who live here who love Cincinnati know that this is a great city and I am committed to having FC Cincinnati take that challenge and seize that,” he said.
Their next match is home against Damet’s former team, the Montreal Impact, Saturday at 1 p.m.