Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

WSA expects improvement

Soccer team enters 2nd PDL season

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The learning curve came at the WSA Winnipeg soccer program like a ball off the foot off David Beckham.

That tough first year of play in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (PDL) is over, though, and as the second season gets ready to start with a pair of exhibition matches later this month, the goal is to show some progress on the pitch.

"Where do you want me to start?" said head coach Eduardo Badescu when asked what he absorbed during the first kick-around. "First of all, we really found out about the quality of the league. Then we found out a lot about our players. It was the first year, and you really don't know until you work with them for two-three months.

"We learned a lot of new things."

Badescu is optimistic about the WSA, and he has reason to be. With the growing pains healing, word about the program in the community is starting to spread. Local players, seemingly obsessed with finding other avenues to locate a higher level of play, are turning to the PDL for that next step.

Winnipeg's Tyson Farago, who enjoyed a trial with Brighton in England last year, said he had no reservations about coming to the WSA.

"It's a great opportunity to represent my own city and province," the 20-year-old said, adding he's not worried about the perceived talent disparity among squads in the PDL. "We're just as good as other teams. If we play, I think we can push towards a playoff spot."

WSA Winnipeg finished with a 4-10-2 record in 2011, a mark that was to be expected given that not many involved in the initiative knew exactly what they were getting themselves into.

This season, the coaching staff wants to get to the .500 mark.

Room for improvement isn't just limited to the field, however.

The club needs to find a way to bring more people out to watch. Last season, they played all of their home games in the early part of the schedule and were forced to stay indoors, turning off supporters in the process.

For 2012, the club has a more balanced slate of games in Winnipeg, with only the first two regular season home matches (May 19-20 versus St. Louis) scheduled at the Winnipeg Indoor Soccer Complex.

The six other home dates -- June 1-2 (vs. Des Moines); June 16-17 (Thunder Bay); July 13-14 (Springfield) -- will be played at the Winnipeg Outdoor Soccer Complex.

WSA will host two exhibition games vs. FC Edmonton, March 24-25 at the the University of Manitoba indoor complex. The regular season starts May 12, on the road against Real Colorado.

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2012 C5

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