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

Friday News Roundup, CF97II Preview

Morning all, happy Friday. Hopefully your week has been good and you’re not too torn up over Russian oligarchs being forced out of football. Andrew here with a roundup of the week’s FMFC news and a quick preview of the closed-door game vs Chicago Fire II.

Maldonado, Rowdy, Bartman

It’s been a newsful (that’s a word, right? Sure.) week, with three signings announced. These signings aren’t the type of players we’ve seen in previous years, all are strong talents with MLS and Championship-level pedigrees. Former North Texas right back Mikey Maldonado is an interesting case because he’s not a typical NTSC player who came up through the FC Dallas academy. He was one of just two players signed by NTSC after impressing at an open tryout in January of 2021. I took a few minutes to read up on Bernard Kamungo, the other player NTSC signed after that open tryout, whose sister had to lend him the money for the tryout fee — it’s clear the hunger these athletes have to play at just about any level, to live their dream of playing the game they love for a living. Before his time with North Texas, Mikey spent multiple seasons playing at the amateur level for UPSL sides in his hometown of San Antonio.

Audi Jepson’s return to Madison was made official on Tuesday, a decision that came as a welcome surprise to many Forward fans who watched him suit up in the pink & blue last season. Eric Leonard described his work rate in preseason as “ridiculous,” and that the other returning players from last season were absolutely thrilled to have him back. I for one am relieved I’ll be able to riff on Audi’s alter ego all season long. Side note: Check out this sweet raffle from the St Louligans with a signed Audi 2021 FMFC home shirt among other FMFC and STFLC items; it’s helping to fund some STL-based fans making the trip up here and any additional proceeds will go to the Flock Soccer Foundation.


Finally, the club announced the signing of Mingo #7 Mingo #16 South African international Nazeem Bartman. Many fans who’ve made the trip to either the Marquette or NIU friendlies will be pleased to see Glaeser showing faith in Bartman after scoring multiple goals in preseason. It turns out he’s not some random trialist but was a 2017 draftee for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and has played at multiple levels in the US and South Africa. Regardless of where he’s played previously, something we’ve lacked in previous seasons is a striker who’s able to produce and we’ve already seen him do the business in preseason. That we’ve signed a player up front who’s shown hunger and output before the campaign begins is promising and creates competition for spots, which can only be a good thing. Speaking of Nazeem, if you’re on Twitter you can win one of these stickers I worked up, and if you don’t get the reference, it’s time you learned.

CF97II Preview

With MLS Next! being such a new league and MLS teams putting the usual amount of minimal effort into marketing/spotlighting their reserve team, it’s difficult to figure out who exactly from the Fire reserves we might see make the trip up to play tomorrow. I’m going to assume that they’re indicated by the supplemental slots in the “Roster Category” listing on the Fire’s roster page, because no separate reserve team roster page is available on their website.

Some familiar faces will likely return to Breese, notably recent USMYNT U20 call-up Chris Brady, 2019 mingo Wyatt Omsberg, 2020 loanee Alex Monis, and 2020 near-loanee Andre Reynolds (he played in one preseason intra-squad scrimmage). Similar to the closed-door game vs MNUFCII, we know Glaeser has different desired outcomes than purely winning, so while some fans might get bent out of shape or lose hope due to losses before the season’s even started, try to take the result with a heaping helping of salt. In his post-match interview in Blaine, Eric Leonard stressed how important the preseason is for working up to full fitness, solidifying attacking identity, and gelling together as a team.

Part of what these next few weeks will give us is a chance to get our fitness up. I think you saw going into the second half the fatigue starting to set in, and that fitness will come with more time. We have one more test against the Fire, and today I’m happy with how the first half went – we kept a clean sheet and were up 1-0 and that’s where our fitness was, and now this next game we have to go for a clean sheet for 65-75 minutes, building up until the beginning of the season. 

– Eric Leonard

While fitness and cohesion is the focus for most of the team, there are players who likely had some homework this week following the Loons2 friendly. I have to imagine trialist and RSL backup keeper Jeff Dewsnup will have been working on setting up a wall and defending free kicks this past week after conceding a goal last Friday. And while Heath Martin has looked leaps and bounds better than last year (he played 0 competitive minutes under Carl Craig), he looks very rough around the edges yet brimming with potential.

I’m off to kick my Friday squarely below the belt, after which I’ll be out with friends in the Driftless in a cabin with a hot tub and fire pit all weekend, hoping to recharge and refresh before what is shaping up to be quite a busy springtime. When I’m not hitting drums I’ll be soaking in the jacuzzi blasting some Mtume. Hope all is well with you and yours, have a great weekend and enjoy the sun and warm temps on Sunday 🏖.


  • 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.


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