It’s no secret: With only three NPSL matches remaining in the regular season, Lansing United will need to amp it up to have a shot at making the Midwest Region playoffs.
It starts Friday night at the East Lansing Soccer Complex, where United will take on last place Dayton in a crucial match with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
“At this point calling it important is just talk, I think we’ve known that for the past couple of weeks,” United head coach Nate Miller said. “Our guys have been training great and put in two good performances last week so we’re ready.”
The two teams last played a month and a half ago – a 2-0 Lansing win on the road in the NPSL season opener. Since so much has changed, Miller said the club isn’t putting much stock in the May 13 match, but he once again will be relying on solid midfield play.
Michael Caccavo and Grant Stoneman scored in the previous match against the Dynamo, and Miller intends for the two to control possession Friday night.
“With the combination of Grant and Michael, along with Brad Centala, I think they can be more athletic than them and have the ball more than them,” Miller said.
Since leading United to victory in the season opener, Caccavo and Stoneman have established themselves as dependable options in the midfield. Caccavo has a goal on eight shots as a strong pivot while Stoneman has seen time as a center back as well, often teaming up with captain Austin Dunn.
“We really feel like we can take the game to them with our pressing and tempo in the midfield,” Miller said. “We’re going to play our game and be really aggressive with them. We can be dangerous in transition.”
Confidence in the final third is building after a five-goal weekend. Although leading scorer James DeCosemo is suspended for Friday night due to a red card he picked up against Kalamazoo, many threats are on the roster. Danny Cawley scored in both of the June friendlies while Alec Greene (goal vs. DCFC and Columbus) and Stevenson Storm (17 shots) are other options going forward.
“It helps with confidence for the whole squad,” Miller said. “Scoring goals can create habits and I think the first half against Indy (Eleven NPSL) was an important half for us to get going.”
Friday night’s match is the last chance for United to entertain fans at the East Lansing Soccer Complex as the next home game will be staged at MSU’s DeMartin Stadium. Miller is hoping his team will be able to put on a show for the Lansing community.
“I think there have been some matches (at home) where we’ve been disappointed in our performances,” he said. “I challenged the guys for this to be our most committed and hard working match and based on training I think that’s going to happen.”