The nonleague encounter with Union Dubuque FC, a team that plays in the United Premier Soccer League, ended with Rochester’s National Premier Soccer League team winning 3-1.
Last year Med City finished fourth in the NPSL’s North Conference with a 7-3-4 record. Early in the season, Med City looked like it would rampage through its maiden campaign atop the league standings and surely into the playoffs.
Instead, the team got complacent, and a late-season swoon saw the Mayhem miss the playoffs.
“I think we just got a little overconfident,” returning keeper Nate Levy, one of 10 second-year players, said. “Going through the season, you know, we were doing very well against teams.”
But practices got lazy, and in the end, “It bit us in the butt.”
New coach Neil Cassidy isn’t worried about the team’s nadir last season.
“New team, new coach, new season – new everything,” he said. “But we want to get after it again in the first half like we did (last season). We just want to make sure it’s not left up to the final four games, that we have something buttoned up before that, and we can enjoy the last few games getting prepared for playoffs.”
Cassidy brings a wealth of experience to his new role.
The Manchester, England native was on the Med City coaching roster last year. He has also been the Director of Coaching and Soccer Operations for the Rochester Youth Soccer Association for 17 years. Plus, he has seven years of coaching experience as current head coach of the Saint Mary’s University women’s soccer team.
And the PDL Rochester Thunder team stationed in Rochester in 2009 and 2010 was directed by him (Minnesota soccer fan favorite Kentaro Takada played for that team).
Tactically, Med City will focus on possession, staying airtight at the back, and, according to what was said from the sidelines all night, plenty of pressing.
After only seven training sessions, and with 10 or 15 more players yet to join the team, Cassidy is happy.
“(When) we lose the ball, on the transition side of things we need a little work… when we go from attack to defense,” Cassidy explained, identifying a weak point.
Claudio Repetto benefited from the squad’s strong display by notching the team’s first goal of the season. With his back to goal, he deftly headed a short cross at the near post over oncoming keeper Lewis Moston.
“Pretty exciting,” the tall forward, who has a knack for chest-passing balls out of the air to teammates, described the goal. “I was looking forward to a pretty good first game because the first impression is always very important. This place, these people – I’ve only been here one week and already feel… the way they are very close to the team. We worked for one week together and already have really good outcomes. The organization, the staff, and coach are very good and have very good ideas, original ideas.”
Outside of the match, Med City FC General Manager Frank Spaeth hopes to get more people in the stands (Med City typically had around 600 people in the stands last season, but about half on Wednesday), and will focus on more community activities, beginning next week. Youth clubs will also find some players visiting their practices.
“I think we did a lot of things, both on and off the field, of being ready for the 2018 season,” Spaeth said. “It was good to have an exhibition game against a quality opponent. That helps us. It wasn’t easy; they made us work – and that’s what we were looking for.”
Med City FC returns to the pitch on Saturday when it visits Minneapolis City SC.
FiftyFive.One is now on Patreon. Do you like the independent coverage of soccer news from Minnesota and beyond that FiftyFive.One offers? Please consider becoming a patron.