With the new season ramping up, the boys in Rouge took to the training pitch for the first time this year on Saturday, May 2. We talked to head coach Ben Pirmann after to get his thoughts on the team and the season ahead. Here's what he said:
Q: How did the first training session of the new season go?
A: The scrimmaging, which was the biggest part of today's evaluation, went well. It was highly contested and very intense. So I think that's going to be good. That's going to be the standard for the summer, and these guys know that. We still have probably 14-15 college guys coming in – mainly our attacking group – so we had most of our defensive group and midfield group here. But when we get all of our attacking guys in, the level will go even higher.
Q: Who do you see having a big impact this season?
A: It's all left to be determined. You know, Bennett Jull is a defender from Robert Morris that we brought in to hopefully play right away. Both James Murphy and Andre Morris from Michigan are new guys that we would expect to provide some help defensively and in the midfield. So those are the main guys, but Tyler Channell and Troy Watson from Saginaw Valley trained very well today, so I think it's just going to be a competitive group. There's going to be a lot of games and a lot of friendlies that I think guys are going to go up and down. But, as the fitness levels improve and as the commitment from the guys stays up, we'll see a pretty deep team.
Q: What does it mean to be returning a large corps of veteran players?
A: Really, it's invaluable. With leadership, those guys know exactly how I want to train and how we want to play. Guys like Wade Allan, Spencer Thompson and Josh Rogers, they've been here from day one since the club started. So they're in positions to really lead by example, and they know exactly what the coaching staff wants. So I think that's a pretty invaluable resource to have.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from last season?
A: Probably for me, personally, the biggest learning curve was managing the match schedule a little more, especially the road games. Obviously, we know going in that we have to deal with some stuff with guys needing to depart to go train with MLS teams. You know, some of the college guys finish up in the middle of July and then you have to figure out how to play without them. But I think the schedule sets up a little better this summer. We still have three double weekends, which isn't ideal, but with that being said, everybody's got to play 12 games. We have to make sure our training habits are a little better than last summer.
Q: What do you consider success in 2015?
A: I told the team, I said, 'I expect us to win every game. Obviously I know we're not going to go undefeated, but I go into every single game – whether it's a friendly, a U.S. Open Cup game, a NPSL game and a playoff game, it doesn't matter; we're going there to win the game. And that all goes back to our training habits. Our biggest thing is if we play as hard and as well as we can in every game, we're going to win a lot of games. We've got some good players. But if we don't train well and we don't prepare well and respect our opponents, then we're not going to win games. So, I think our definition of success is, obviously, being as prepared as possible to go out and play as well as we can.