After more than seven months of roster building, Lansing United head coach Nate Miller will get his first chance to see his new squad in action Saturday night.
United will take on the Ann Arbor Football Club in a season-opening friendly at the East Lansing Soccer Complex, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Miller and his coaching staff have used the sessions leading up to the match to evaluate the talent he has in his arsenal this summer.
“I think it’s a really big opportunity for us to showcase in front of our fans for the first time,” Miller said following Thursday’s practice. “I’m looking for competition and I’m looking for guys to show some desire to win a spot.”
Around 25 players have featured in training this week, with more players scheduled to begin practicing with the team next week. As more and more players arrived into Lansing throughout the week, competition for all 11 starting spots increased daily.
One of the main focuses this week was on coming together as a team as well as learning each player’s individual tendencies and strengths.
“I think the best part so far is that everyone is really willing to work with each other, which is not easy when everyone is coming to a new team,” United midfielder Danny Brandt said. “Everybody has been patient with each other but at the same time we’ve been playing and practicing really hard.”
On the field, Miller has spent the majority of the time getting organized for the first match of the summer. Although a number of players on the roster have not yet arrived in Lansing, the team has a framework for what it wants to do tactically this season.
“Two of the biggest things we worked on was our team pressing, the whole structure and what it looks like,” Miller said. “The other one is what our shape looks like in possession and what our roles are – especially in the midfield – and how we want to attack.”
Brandt, who scored seven goals with Messiah College in 2014 before transferring to Palm Beach Atlantic, said one team characteristic that already sticks out is its work ethic. The Annapolis, Md., native is pumped to play in front of the United faithful for the first time on Saturday night.
“I think everybody here knows the fans make it a wild atmosphere,” Brandt said. “It’s going to be a really fun game. We’re playing for the fans and for the city. It’s something bigger than yourself.”
TICKETS: Tickets for Saturday’s friendly are available online and at the East Lansing Soccer Complex gate before the match.
AAFC: Ann Arbor Football Club is a men’s league team that competes in various tournaments across Michigan. It will be the second meeting between the two teams – United defeated AAFC, 4-0, in May of 2014.
COACHING STAFF: Head coach Nate Miller has rounded out his coaching staff: Eric Salley, Brendan Finnerty, Kenny Huber and Josh Kremers.