Coach’s Corner: KMSL All-Stars


Final Match—
Opponent: KMSL All Stars
Result: 7-0 Win

The Force approached the last game of the season knowing that they had to end this first season on a high, the opponents had changed but our preparation would remain the same. The players were all representing the Force at various camp venues this week so we gave them Monday night off but trained the rest of the week.

When it gets to the last week of the season and a team is not playing for a Championship, it can at times be hard to keep the players attention, but this certainly was not the case for this group of players. The sessions were designed to keep the players very much engaged in the game style that we have introduced, along with maintaining the fitness levels needed to play at this level. Assistant Coaches Steve Lyons and Josh Scott took the session on Tuesday and put on a very dynamic session that the players loved and worked very hard. Thursday session was more technical and low key but again very mentally demanding. The coaches wanted to make sure the players were switched on and ready to show the local players and fans, (who they would face on Saturday) that: “they were performing at the highest level of men’s soccer in the area”

Match-day saw temperatures in the low 90s and with high humidity, not great soccer conditions. We adapted (shortened) our regular warm up and made sure all of the players were ready for at least one half of play in this match. The first half saw us start with a purpose and very quickly we got on top especially in wide areas. Ben Backstrom was seeing a lot of the ball and getting in some great crosses. Most of the service to Backstrom was coming from the now reliable foot of central defender Jack Colton. Jacko was putting some very fine passes over 40-50 yards for Ben to run onto and it was really establishing our game style territorially. A by-product of this fine wing play was getting corners; this is where our first two goals came from. Chase Nieri got the first with a fine shot from distance that whistled past the GK, and then Joe Townsend  scored with a header to really settle the players down early on in the game.

The 2 goals meant that we could start to really pass the ball around and enjoy some good possession. The longer we had the ball, the harder the opposition had to work. The all-stars tried to counter this by making many changes in personnel throughout the first half, but our players showed that they really have grown in confidence and kept playing during all the changes. We added two further goals in the first half with Alesi Osario getting a tidy finish from 8 yards, after a fine move, and then Fubi hit a fierce shot from 30 yards that left the GK no chance. So as we entered half time, we had a nice four goal lead.

The local all-star team was seeing first-hand what it was like to play against players who train 5 days a week and who are trying to further their soccer careers beyond college. The game was always going to be tough for them but we have to applaud their effort and commitment.

At half time we changed all of our players other than Jacko and Wez Barnard the GK.  Some of the changes were made towards the end of the first half just to make the transition smoother. This match gave some players like Igor Petsch, Tom Winspear and Ryan Stinton the chance to show what they can do, along with giving player like Ronald Marquez and Wilmer Ruiz the chance to get some valuable playing time at this level.

What was really pleasing for the coaching staff was that the level of play was maintained despite the changes. Tom Winspear and Petsch got on the ball a great deal and fed both new wide players (Camden Brown and Ronald Marquez) who continued to get success in wide areas. We managed to score three more goals in the half with Brandon Tarr getting two, including a fine finish from close range after some great work from Camden Brown down the right side, then a fine individual goal with the outside of his foot, after a great thru ball from Petsch. Winspear got on the score sheet with a comfortable finish from six yards to cap off a fine performance in midfield. So in the end it was a comfortable win in front of a big crowd.

We managed to give all of the players a good amount of time on the field especially some players who had not seen that much time during the leagues games.  I am confident that we demonstrated to the players who play locally, that the Force is developing soccer for men (and soon to be women) that is a higher level than what has been available during the summer months here in Tennessee, previously. It was nice to have a big local crowd that we could showcase our work to, that we could demonstrate our improvements thus far and to wet their appetite for next season.