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05 / 13

Weekend Preview: United set to open NPSL play in Milwaukee

WRITTEN BY: Nick Barnowski
PUBLISHED ON: May 13, 2017

Lansing United head coach Nate Miller has spent the past two weeks shaping his squad and watching team chemistry sprout. Now, he has a 300-plus mile road trip to put the final pieces into place before his team jumps into action.

United will travel to Milwaukee, Wis., to take on the Torrent on Sunday afternoon in their first National Premier Soccer League match of the 2017 season. The season opener will also be the club’s longest road trip of the season – fans who aren’t traveling to Milwaukee’s Hart Park can follow the action on United’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.

“Our guys are excited,” said Miller, who had a 4-4-4 record in his first season with United in 2016. “These past two weeks have been packed full of information for our guys. They’ve put forth a great effort in training, so we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

Despite getting an opportunity to watch the Torrent’s 3-3 draw against Detroit City FC on Friday night, it will be United’s first-ever match against the NPSL newcomers. History is on United’s side, though, as they are undefeated in NPSL openers all-time (1-0-2) and defeated another league newcomer, the Dayton Dynamo, on the road in last season’s first match.

However, a new season and the possibility of 14 different players making their United debuts makes it even more important to jump out to a hot start.

“Last year, I don’t think we got off to a great start to the season, especially on the road,” said midfielder Brad Centala, who will wear the captain’s armband Sunday in lieu of the suspended James DeCosemo. “If we’re able to go on the road and get three points, it would be a great start to the season.”

The team that will travel to Milwaukee features an versatile back line and midfield as well as attacking players who have impressed the coaching staff in front of goal so far. After showcasing his speed and goal scoring ability in United’s preseason friendly, Rafa Mentzingen is set to make an impact on the match, while other newcomers such as George Knight, Sammy Conti and Tumi Moshobane can impress if named to the starting XI.

In Miller’s message to the team following Saturday’s training session, he made it clear that the NPSL opener will be about representing the club’s three pillars: pride, passion and unity.

“Right before the match we want to tell them it’s about who we are,” he said. “Nothing in our game can replace work ethic, passion and the desire to win. We went through a lot of tactical things this week but at the end of the day it’s about your mentality and about going after it.”