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Quote Sheet: Previewing Tampa Bay

By Bethlehem Steel FC Communications, 10/10/18, 3:30PM EDT

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Opening statement
“Good performance in Indianapolis, I thought from the entire group there wasn’t really a weak link in the group and that’s impressive because there were seven guys under the age of 20 in the starting lineup. Really happy with the way we’ve progressed through the season and how we’ve hung on despite our average age getting younger and younger as we go and I think we are living right on that line we try to live on of development and competition aiding in development and giving these guys really meaningful games when it counts. We’re happy with where we are at, we would have liked to have gotten three points considering they only had two shots on goal at their place in a meaningful game but we’ll take the point. It improves our position slightly and we’re not going to be beholden to watching other results over the weekend, it’s about us and our performance on Sunday.”

If the message has changed given the team is on the cusp of making back-to-back postseasons
“None of the messages change, I think we’ve gotten better and better at it over the course of three years. We’ve gotten steadily younger over the course of three years and I think some of it is natural and takes time for guys when we started were 15 or 16 years old and are now seasoned veterans at 18/19. It shows in the first team performances this year too, guys like Auston [Trusty] and Mark [McKenzie] were teammates in the USL before they were [with the Union]. I’m a firm believer that it is a really valuable experience only because they are stretched and make mistakes and are playing against men at a really young age. It leaves them in a position where they can enter the bigger arena with a little more confidence that they can execute. It’s great to see them playing the way that they have and being as young as they have this year, I think we have a firmly established pipeline at this point.”

With the first team having a bye week, do you have to do anything special for them to recognize the importance this weekend has for Steel FC
“Anyone that mixes with us from the first team has bought in and some of those guys are texting me on the side, asking what do we need to do this weekend and things like that. It’s a great sign because it wasn’t that way a couple years ago and the culture that Jim [Curtin] has bred in the first team is really awesome at this point and it shows in their performances but in the mindset and attitude of guys that come out of the Academy and are now first-team players but are called upon to play in the USL. They know it’s an important piece in their own development and the competitive part is in all of us, you aren’t a professional athlete or coach if you aren’t very a competitive person. I like the blend of guys that we’ve seen and whatever plan we see this weekend, I have every confidence that they will be locked in and ready to go.”

If Tampa Bay is more dangerous because they are eliminated from postseason contention
“Guys are playing for jobs and a lot of those guys make a lot of money so I would think they are more dangerous because they will have a little more freedom going forward. We hope to exploit that if they show any lack of discipline on the defensive side. It also makes them more unpredictable, their lineup unpredictable and makes everything about them unpredictable which is from a coach’s standpoint, not ideal.”

If there is a pattern to when first team players are needed to play in Bethlehem
“No, I think it’s at the discretion of the first team staff., always has been so if there are guys in that situation this weekend, we’d welcome them. Ultimately, it would be cool if we got into the playoffs again, it’s something we’ve strived for and if we can finish as high up the table as possible, that’s progress for us in our little microcosm of the club. Ultimately, this is about the first team roster fully fit and available for Red Bulls and NYCFC so that those guys can drive up the table and make some history, which they have already done on a number of fronts. It’s a good time to be here, there is a lot of momentum at the club and we are taking on the responsibility this Sunday to try and keep that momentum going for everyone. But ultimately, it’s about them entering the arena next Sunday against Red Bulls, ready to go.”

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