The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
Lance Calloway was recently re-signed for a second season as head coach of Bellingham United Football Club. He’s barely caught his breath from representing the state of Washington (and the USA for that matter) as gaffer of the only American club in the Pacific Coast Soccer League. That didn’t stop goalWA.net from keeping the Hammers vibe going by asking the coach about the recent season.
How good is the PCSL? With the United Soccer Leagues PDL a dominant force in the Northwest, it is a good question. Could a PCSL side compete in the PDL? Well, there is competing, and then there is winning. Local soccer fans might be skeptical, but Calloway won’t sell his league short.
“Overall I thought the level of play was very good, especially for our squad,” the BUFC coach says. “We had to be prepared to play and compete hard if we wanted to win the match which is exactly what you want for any squad. What made it tough was the schedule as we played 6 or 7 double headers so it made it tough on the players’ bodies playing high level matches on back to back days and often with one out-of-town on Saturday and home again on Sunday. This definitely necessitated player management at times. It helped that we had a deep squad.”
Any memorable season has its moments where rivalries develop and emotions are strained. For the Hammers, those moments came against one certain side. “I would have to say the biggest rivalry that developed this year was with PoCo City as there definitely was some bad feelings that developed with them the first match and this carried over into the other matches we played against them,” Calloway says.
Here’s Lance’s nice way of saying PoCo City players are cheap shots, without actually saying it. “They are a very talented squad but it’s some of the extracurricular aspects they brought to the match that was not needed especially for a squad of their caliber of play, basically it detracted from them.”
Were the Hammers dragged into the drama PoCo City liked to create? Calloway suggests they had better things to do, and did them well.
“I thought over the course of the season the players all conducted themselves with class and they all pushed on another to work hard to play their best and to compete. We had several players, Brendan Quilici, Chris Jepson, Oscar Jimenez, Kellan Brown, and Justin Diener who helped push players harder by demanding they match their work rate and approach to training and matches.”
The short PCSL campaign is done, leaving Calloway and United fans plenty of “off-season” to contemplate 2013. I had to ask the coach if we would see any players jump ship from other league sides and cross the border to join what is already the “Big Club” in “The Coast.” He says word is out about the support at Civic Stadium.
“I wouldn’t say we are going to go out to the other PCSL squads to recruit their players as it is sometimes a tough ask to have guys cross the border to make training, but we have had a couple of guys ask about tryouts. I have talked with a few other players who’ve played with some PDL squads who are older and aged out of the PDL and still wanting to play or are looking for another option. Some are interested in BUFC as they have heard about playing in front of our home crowds, which is such an awesome experience as we have by far the best fans and support in the entire league.”
The only thing that needs fixing for the Hammers is the same thing that the Seattle Sounders of MLS are still working on: getting wins in the post-season. Bellingham failed in three tries this year after a stellar regular campaign. Does the post-season drop-off mean Calloway will rethink his approach next year?
“At this time I am not looking to make to many changes as much will depend on what players will be back,” the coach of the Black and White says. “I’ve been contacted by a couple PDL coaches interested in a couple of our players and we want to do what we can if these players are interested in getting to the next level. There are certainly some minor adjustments we will make ranging from how we will handle our tryouts to managing certain logistics with our league matches. I thought our pre-season schedule was great in that we had 7-8 matches so we were able to give our player pool opportunities to play and time to get the strongest players opportunities to work together prior to the season.”
“Bottom line? I am already looking forward to starting next season!”