Soccer Banter: What are your thoughts on the first season for CFC Azul? What game or moment sticks out in your mind the most from the 2012 PDL Season?
Dave Kelly: I really enjoyed my first season coaching in the PDL. The level is very good, and there's a lot of parity between the teams. There were several standout moments, but playing Boston and Vermont back-to-back and winning 6-0 and 4-0 respectively was certainly a highlight. I am proud of the football that CFC played. We really tried to pass the ball, and to let the players have the freedom to express themselves and enjoy their football. In that sense, we were successful. The club is confident that we made a good first impression on the league, and on the players. We want CFC to be a sought after destination by the league's top players, and I think we're on our way to achieving that. Hopefully, next year we'll have one consistent home venue, which will also help.
SB: Looking back on the season, what areas did the Azul come up short and what needs to change in order to take the team to the playoffs in 2013?
DK: It's obvious that there was always going to be a learning curve, and that was unavoidable. In moving forward, we will need to make sure that when selecting the roster, we maximize production from the eight overage players, and the eight foreign spots available to us. After seeing the quality of play in the league, I am happy with the talent that we put on the field. But we can do better – we can put out a team that is even more balanced and with even more quality. Next year we will do just that. We are committed to playing attacking, entertaining football with players that have a high level of technique and athleticism. This year was really enjoyable, and next year will be even better!
Jesse Menzies: It was a very successful inaugural season for CFC. We managed to place 4th in our conference, but if luck went our way, we could have easily finished in the top 2. It was good to finally have a team to play for in Connecticut. There is so much talent here and most of the guys know each other, so it was definitely a good atmosphere to play in everyday. Lastly, I think the team as a whole created a big fan base. Since our home games were played at various locations, we gained a lot of publicity and much of the soccer playing/watching population in CT will come watch games next year.
SB: How will the past few months help you in your upcoming season with CCSU and what goals do you have for soccer after graduation?
JM: These past few months will definitely help me because playing in the PDL means I have been playing with some of the top collegiate players in the country. I believe I have lifted my game by playing against top quality competition. Also, playing everyday under great coaches has really improved my fitness level. I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape of my life. After CCSU, I would like to come back to CFC and help them improve as a club. I have aspirations of going pro and I am going to work hard to do so.
SB: Looking back on the season, from a business standpoint: what worked, was the club able to reach its goals with attendance, what did you learn, what will you look to change in the future?
Steve Coxon: Was the season a success? I would say yes both on and off the field.
We have built a very solid foundation in CT. We hit many of our goals, we ran a first class operation for the players (thanks to GM Robin Schuppert, Coach Dave Kelly and their staff) and we believe we will reap the rewards next year when the word gets out.
We did learn a great deal about the PDL, most importantly how difficult it is to get a regular crowd to attend the games, so many factors come into play, the weather, the day, the kick off time, the marketing and the relationships with the local town soccer community. This year we went into the season totally blind. Next year, with a year under our belt, we feel confident that we can improve the attendance numbers considerably. We are already in the process of offering season tickets to every male player in our youth system, with over 30 teams that is over 600 season tickets holders guaranteed for the 2012/13 season.
SB: On the field, what were your thoughts on the first season for the Azul, what did you think of the overall level of the PDL and where does the team go from here?
SC: As for what occurred on the field, the Northeast division was very, very evenly balanced. I have never witnessed a league with so many draws. The top six teams were capable of beating each other every night. The Northeast Final even went into OT as the two teams could not be separated in regulation. Ottawa eventually won the league and that's a team we beat at home 2-0 and lost 1-0 on a late winner in Canada. We will be right in the mix next year with a few key additions, especially a couple of older more experienced players to compliment our athleticism and talent.
Already looking forward to next year!