|Stumptown Athletic looks foward to assimilating in spring season|
|Young team kicks off vs. San Diego 1904|
|Published Monday, February 24, 2020 3:00 pm|
Charlotte is bursting with professional soccer.
With longtime second division USL Championship and the addition of Major League Soccer next season, what does third division soccer look like in Charlotte?
Stumptown Athletic plays in the National Independent Soccer Association, known as NISA. After a four-game fall showcase in which they went 2-2, the spring season begins this week. They face San Diego 1904 FC at the OrthoCarolina Sportsplex on Feb. 29 at 7:04 p.m. Their 14-game season runs through June 13.
“Most of them are young kids,” said coach Mark Steffens, a longtime Charlotte Eagles coach and USL Hall of Famer. “The vets you try to encourage to step it up. The young kids are kind of leading the way because they are so hungry, and they want to move up. They want to prove that they are better than playing at the third division. Right now, I think some of them are proving it. Training is so intense at times.”
Their tactics and athleticism have greatly improved from the end of the fall showcase in October to now. While he is pleased with their initial progress, time will tell how well where they need to improve. They faced the Charlotte Independence (USL Championship) last week in a preseason match.
“They showed pretty well,” Steffens said. “It looked like they were a little nervous for the first few minutes, and then after that they settled in. We had some good scoring opportunities we didn’t put away. I’m pleased with the group right now.”
Steffens noted that Stumptown has a fairly young team, as most of the players seek to play at higher levels. Yet molding young players excites him, as he described their hunger to grow and develop.
“We have eight or nine new guys,” Steffens said. “We’ve only been training for a couple of weeks. I think they’ve really assimilated into the team quicker than normal, which is good. I think part of that is we have 10-12 guys from last year. They kind of bought into the system and the way we want to play.”
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