Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Without a doubt, the 2014 Lansing United season has been an unquestionable success.
Having just finished in first place of the Great Lakes West Conference in their inaugural season of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), Lansing United has come a long way since winning its first exhibition game back in May. This prosperity has grown out of the fundamental principle of working together as a team, something that has been stressed from the initial practices earlier this year.
From the beginning, the plan for owner Jeremy Sampson and head coach Eric Rudland was to assemble a group of players that would fit their system and mesh well as a team. Working with a diverse assortment of recent college graduates, current students, and professional players from many locations around the United States and the world, Lansing United deserves admiration for making things work from the very start.
The regular season began positively with a 3-1-1 record through the month of May, with a 4-0 home victory on May 18th over the Michigan Stars from Dearborn Heights, Mich. In that game, captain Matt Brown tallied three goals for a hat trick that illustrated his leadership that the team would come to depend on. Brown currently leads the team with 10 goals through 13 games.
Other contributors to United’s achievements include Zach Bennett, the current MSU Spartan goalkeeper, who has made 38 saves and recorded five shutouts so far this summer. Second-leading goal scorer Brian Cunningham has knocked three goals into the back of the net, all of which came in a 4-1 victory on July 4 over the Cincinnati Saints.
Throughout the season, there has been a steady increase in teamwork and camaraderie. Players have stressed discipline and dependability amongst one another, holding each and every individual to the standards of a premier professional team.
Best of all, on July 13, Lansing United hosted Detroit City F.C. with the opportunity to advance to the Midwest Regional playoffs. In that game, United was able to hold on for a 2-2 tie that punched the team’s ticket to a July 19 matchup against the Minnesota United Reserves at Archer Stadium in the East Lansing Soccer Complex.
Winning the Midwest Regional playoffs would enable United to compete for the NPSL National Championship in August, a title claimed by the Richmond Virginia Football Club in 2013.
Win or lose from here on out, there is no denying that the debut season for Lansing United has been a big success. Fans numbering in the thousands have come out to support the team during its journey, and the foundation has been built for continued progress in the future.
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.