After a three-week international break, FC Cincinnati will return on Saturday against Colorado. The match will debut the busiest part of the teams’ season as they enter a week stacked with three vital games.
“It’s going to be very exciting,” head coach Jaap Stam said of the teams’ return to the pitch. “It’s also the best way to measure where you are, if we’ve made any changes in the training sessions and in terms of what to do to assess yourself.”
On Saturday, FCC will welcome Colorado to TQL Stadium in its first ever full-capacity match. Then, FC Cincinnati will hit the road for matches against Chicago and Toronto.
The team does not plan on traveling back to Cincinnati in between their Chicago and Toronto games. Despite the busy schedule Stam said they are focused on Colorado and do not have the luxury of looking too far ahead.
“We’re always thinking about the games in a short period of time in what we might need to do or what can happen if we need to make changes," Stam said. "The most important thing for us is still looking at it from game to game because we are still in that phase of growing and building towards something."
Injury update, Harris out and Matarrita questionable
On Wednesday, midfielder/forward Calvin Harris was named to the injury list after undergoing a successful surgery to his meniscus. Stam said the injury, which will bench Harris for six-to-eight weeks, was something he had previously developed before he joined FC Cincinnati this season. Harris played through the injury in his four appearances this season.
Harris started in three matches for FCC, tallying two shots on a goal for the squad. With Harris on the injury list, forward Franko Kovacevic was named to the active roster.
“We know how he is, he’s very direct, he’s very positive in his approach and how he wants to play which is very good and which is what we need,” Stam said of Kovacevic. “He gives us a little bit of flexibility that we need in terms of changes that we need to make depending on the opposition and how they’re playing. We also need to take into consideration that Franko is coming back from a long term injury and that he still needs to have his time as well to get really fit and to get very consistent throughout 90 minutes but also we can see that he’s making progress, he’s getting better and he’s very excited to be back.”
Kovacevic was previously on the injured list and was seen primarily training off to the side, separate from the team, during media observation periods. However last week, Kovacevic jumped into team activities more.
Defender Ronald Matarrita has been away from team training since June 1. Matarrita played through a calf injury during FCC's May 29 match against New England and has since been rehabbing the injury.
On Monday, Matarrita was back running but he wasn't seen with the team during the early portion of training the following day.
Matarrita has started in six matches for FC Cincinnati this season and he leads the team with three assists. Stam left his status for Saturday questionable.
“He’s getting fit and he’s feeling very well that’s a very positive one. If you ask him, probably he’s going to say ‘Yeah I can play Saturday,’ so there’s still the opportunity for me to make that choice,” Stam said. “We also need to take into consideration and think about the wellness of him.”
In the event Matarrita does not play, Stam said Edgar Castillo will likely fill his role.
“He knows what he can do, what he needs to bring, he knows very well what I ask from him in games so he’s shown his ability that’s why he’s in the club,” Stam said. “He’s shown his ability in the club in what he can bring to us and what he can do and if Ronald is not able to play then yeah, he’s the player that will be taking his position.”
The Colorado Rapids will travel to Cincinnati as the fourth ranked team in the MLS Western Conference. The Rapids are 4-1-2 this season, with their most recent match being a 3-0 shut out victory against Dallas.
“It’s a team that can play good fútbol,” Stam said of Colorado. “They succeed in getting certain results but they also leave things and hopefully we can, like we are aiming for every game, we can exploit that as well and get more out of the game ourselves.”
For midfielder Luciano Acosta, his focus won't be on the opponent, but instead on the importance of securing a win on their home field.
“It’s a great team, they have great players,” Acosta said. “We are going to be at home so we have to keep it in our minds that we can’t lose at home again.”