|Charlotte Eagles draw Discoveries SC in Bireline's coaching debut|
|Early penalty kick save preserves 0-0 deadlock|
|Published Friday, May 17, 2019 11:24 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|The Charlotte Eagles opened the USL2 season with a 0-0 draw against Discoveries SC in Matthews.|
MATTHEWS—The Charlotte Eagles entered the Garrett Bireline era tonight.
A 0-0 result against neighboring Discoveries SC to open the season marks his first USL2 test with the Eagles. Charlotte earned a penalty kick within the first minute, but Discoveries goalkeeper Tom Rusling made the save with his feet on midfielder Alvaro Arche’s attempt down the middle. Rusling would prove relentless for the remainder of the night. The draw gives Bireline a plane to develop from.
“It’s important that we’re developing players within this league, as much as we’re trying to play to a certain standard that gets results,” Bireline said. “Ultimately, if we don’t send players back in a better frame, a better character state and a better skillset than what they came into us with, then we kind of really wasted their summer.”
Bireline replaced interim coach Luke Helmuth in November, joining the club as technical director. Helmuth now oversees the organization’s residency program. Bireline worked with fellow Missionary Athletes International organization Chicago Eagles, and spent the last three years as head coach at Southern Wesleyan, which shifted from NAIA to NCAA Division II under him. Now Bireline’s focus shifts to USL2, previously PDL. Players know the Eagles are a faith-based organization, which defines the type of player the club recruits.
“We really want high character guys,” Bireline said. “We’re clear with what our mission is in terms of how to use soccer to uplift the Charlotte community in pockets and help men develop, and help women develop with our WPSL team as well. We’re really clear to say this is what we’re about. This is what you’re going to experience when you’re with us, and this is what you’re not going to experience when you’re with us. We have a group of guys this summer who have really bought into that. They’re really hungry to kind of make their stamp on the organization, and put themselves within a solid historical spot, both from a culture standpoint off the field but also with the results on the pitch as well.”
USL2 offers offseason activity for mostly collegiate players. Charlotte is two seasons removed from the PDL title, which they won in 2017 under Dave Dixon. However, the nature of a league consisting of mostly collegiate players is high turnover, and a staggered start to the season due to players finishing finals. Bireline noted the Eagles had four days of training under their belt, as schools wrap up the academic year.
“It’s really positive for us to come with really only four days of real training, and have the opportunity to compete and see where we stand, knowing that we have some pieces coming back off of injury, some pieces coming in late,” Bireline said. “Obviously we would like to get a result at home to kick off the season, but a clean sheet is good, and the boys put in a really good effort.”
Next up: Discoveries host the Eagles on May 25 at Nation Ford High at 7:30 p.m. for the first of a four-game road trip. They return home June 14 against SC United Bantams at 5 p.m.
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