Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

FMFC 2-0 Marquette: Trialists, Bright Spots, Human Clones?

Hello hello everyone, a quick Sunday post for you after last night’s friendly vs Marquette. While assistant coach Neil Hlavaty may be tight-lipped about where the virus-free bars are in Madison, we aim to bring you all the news you can use. While you’re at it, make sure you watch the latest installment of Super Soul Sunday.

Just five short weeks from the kickoff of the 2022 USL League One season, the Flamingos took on Marquette’s Golden Eagles, netting a goal in each half. Walking into the inflated futuristic shell that is Marquette’s winter practice space for their football and lacrosse teams, you could tell the atmosphere around the club was different. Players were well-organized, still quietly working pre-match drills with the coaching staff with some intensity behind their movement and passing. When I remarked on this to club owner and President Vern Stenman on the touchline before the first half kicked off, he remarked with, “that’s the Keith Tiemeyer Effect,” which is exactly the type of impact you’d expect a tenured professional like Tiemeyer to have on the club after moving over from the Badgers.

The aforementioned intentionality of movement would continue after the starting whistle, and for much of the first half we’d see organized passing flow and plenty of positive off-the ball runs into the box. While Marquette’s high press put some pressure on some of the younger trialists up front, for the most part they held their composure. The first goal arrived in the 28th minute from a well-worked pass into the area from an unnamed trialist on the wing, arriving at the feet of another unnamed trialist looming in front of goal for what would amount to a tap-in. Eric Leonard found the net at the 60 minute mark, off a header from a corner. It was great to see Eric get on the scoresheet so early in preseason, and doubly so off a set piece (where we struggled last season). Eric ran right over to the traveling fans, and after full time had this to say:

This is the difference, the atmosphere at our games vs somewhere else. The fans traveled, we’ve got 150 fans here for a preseason game which competitively means means nothing. And that’s why to me it’s important we show them what they mean to us. I would say the most important thing to take from tonight is what we’re trying to change this year: the togetherness of everything. So whether someone is on the pitch or on the bench, everyone is pushing the guy in front of them. That’s part of the competition we need to get this collective of 22 guys to fight for those 11 starting spots and to fight for each other. That’s a championship team. We’re not trying to just make the playoffs, we’re trying to win the league.

Eric Leonard

NDZ was informed before the game that Coach Glaeser’s focus for this game was to play trialists primarily but to give some of the starters some minutes as well, so while the result would be important, giving minutes to trialists would be prioritized. Notably absent was Mitch Osmond, who we’re assuming was rested after a full week of training. When you’re looking for a backup to slot into that middle center half role in a back three, you have to give that prospective player opportunities to show their quality and that’s what these preseason games are all about. A trialist wearing the #6 shirt looked serviceable, finding himself in positions to make interceptions and tackles, but having seen Osmond’s reel it’s going to take some serious time in training and the weight room before any of the trialists can compete. We also saw former FMFC defender and Madison native Carl Schneider play in the 2nd half, and I have to admit he looked quite good, miles better than the impact we saw him have on games in the 2019 season. It’s encouraging, because we knew he had quality in that first year, he just seemed scared to let that devil out. Hopefully Carl can keep impressing and land himself a contract.

“We wanted the first 10 minutes to be defensive, while we figured out gaps to attack. We had a lot of trialists out there, lot of guys fighting for positions. That was our emphasis today. For guys to have the chance to go out and fight and compete.”

Matt Glaeser, Head Coach & Technical Director

Cassini looked tidy on the ball, and if this game was any indication of how we’ll see him deployed this season, he will play a roaming #10, looking to create opportunities for others with scoring opportunities as well as putting himself in dangerous areas. He looked quite two-footed both in dribbling and passing, confident and generally unbothered on the ball, regardless of opposition pressure.

Cyrus Rad looked like a man transformed under Glaeser and it was clear within the first 10 minutes his play was different than last season. Part of that might be what seemed like vastly improved communication between Breno and the back line, but Rad showed a tireless work rate and his distribution was clinical. If he’s going to play like that every game under Matt, it makes sense now why the club picked him up for another season. Heath Martin played left wingback during the first half, getting his first touches of competitive play in front of the fans. He fought well for possession but looked a bit nervous with the ball at his feet when pressed by defenders. While he saw a bit of a mixed performance, his pace and technical ability looked good enough to deputize for a more regular starter and certainly gives the manager something to think about.

I think we’ve got a good group of guys, and I think the quality is probably the highest we’ve had in all four years. There’s a sense of organization from both the players and coaching staff; we know what we’re doing from the first minute and that’s in training sessions as well. It makes a big difference. Everyone wants us to win, Matt, Neil, JP, they want us to win — but today there were specific instructions to stick to our principles, and there are specific defensive principles we’ve been working on this week. Today we had a good amount of trialists in, so it was a good test of seeing how we could do with the instructions we’re given. We treated this like another training session; everything is to prepare us for the first game of the season.

Eric Leonard

While we can take plenty of positives from this first outing, I’d expect most fans will temper their expectations. We’ve had up and down preseasons in the past and then started the league campaign brightly, only to have things fall apart midseason. Glaeser and his coaching staff’s main challenge this season is to find cohesion and togetherness early, and then to sustain it through the autumn months. We have to assume more signings are on the way to help bolster the squad and add some depth.

We saw a couple more unexpected potential signings in the squad last night in the form of Drew Conner, who was spotted earlier this week in training videos and saw minutes in the second half last night. The former Chicago House, STFLC loanee, Indy Eleven, Badger, and Chicago Fire academy prospect looked good, if not a bit subdued at times. We should see a bit more of what he can do vs NIU on Friday. An Audi Jepson doppelganger played in the number 16 shirt in the second half, leading to speculation that the club has gotten into human cloning as a resort to the increasing price of players in the lower divisions, but it turned out to be the real Audi, who is fighting for his place as a trialist this preseason. Good luck to him, he showed glimpses of his quality last season and 2022 could be a real breakout if he can come out of his shell a bit more.

It was great to see fans ahead of the game at Third Space Brewing, which has become a sort of unofficial landing spot for FMFC supporters ahead of these Marquette friendlies. We talk about it regularly and it’s very true: football without seeing your friends isn’t anywhere near as fun, and if you’re not taking advantage of the many pre-match goings-on near the stadium this season you’re missing out on a big piece of the experience. Anwyay, if you’re in Milwaukee and have a chance to stop in at Third Space, I recommend the Light it Up Lager, a no-frills easy drinker. Speaking of fans, the club ought be encouraged to see well over 100 fans in Milwaukee for a friendly vs a college team, especially with the sparing seating and cold temperatures.

Starting Lineup

Phil Breno, trialist, Cesar Murillo, Cyrus Rad, Christian Enriquez, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, trialist, Heath Martin, Matheus Cassini, Justin Sukow, trialist

Other Bits and Bobs

The club announced Dairlyand renewed their primary kit sponsorship for another 3 years, and put out a new preseason kit with Dairyland across the front. The kit is primarily “shark skin gray” with pink and white accents. The gray is a new color for the club, and looked good up close at Valley Fields though I feel like it would pair better with pink or gray shorts (as opposed to the white). Another new accent piece seen last night was the white player socks had “FMFC” embroidered in pink on the back of them, and it’s little touches like that which really helps make the match kits look more polished and professional.

2022 - Adult/Youth Preseason Match Top

Right then. We’ll be back with a preview of the NIU game later this week, for now check out some of the vinyl finds Grant and I unearthed at the Milwaukee Exclusive Company location (one of the few remaining) before heading to the pre-match pints:

Authors

  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.

    Twitter

  • Grant Pieters

    Father, deep thinker, lover of life...and falafel.

    Twitter

  • Kyle Carr

    Capo, light gamer, podcaster and super amateur baker. All that plus some other stuff

    Twitter

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