The Charlotte Independence’s trip to Rochester was a rough one, as it was stampeded by the Rhinos in a 4-0 loss Saturday, April 29.
Coach Mike Jeffries’s club will have plenty of time to recover. Charlotte doesn’t play again until Thursday, May 11, when it hosts the New York Red Bulls II.
The Independence (1-2-2) aren’t scheduled to play again until May 27, giving the team only two games this month.
Jeffries spoke with the South Charlotte Weekly about the effects of a light schedule, how the team is progressing and more.
What do you like about your team right now, and what are some areas you want to see improvement?
We have a great group in terms of the competitive side, the work rate and the energy. In terms of our ability to press and pressure other teams, we’re generally very good. Generally, we’re able to do that to create chances.
Until this weekend, I felt defensively we’ve been pretty well organized in limiting chances. One of the areas we’re certainly looking to improve is in our ability in movement in the final third to create a few more chances each game.
One of our strengths is our ability to possess the ball and move teams around. That’s a real plus for the group as a we go forward.
What do you do to keep the guys fresh with only two games this month?
That’s going to be a little bit of a balancing act. We’ll schedule a couple of other games. We do have an open cup game in that window, as well. That helps some. It does become an act of trying to make sure we balance keeping them sharp with also getting them rest and making sure we don’t burn them out when there aren’t games, getting them fit and ready for the real push of the season.
In leagues like this, rosters can be pretty fluid. You were fortunate to return several guys from last year’s team, but guys get called up, down or moved around by the team they feed into. Is it tough to build chemistry?
We have a pretty consistent philosophy of how we want to play. We work with the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer. We’re of a similar philosophy, so I think it helps. When guys do come down they can fit in pretty quickly here with what we do.
So does that mean you’re constantly networking with those coaches and the people there? Or do they give you autonomy for what you want to do?
Yeah, we’re in communication with them. Obviously, they’re very interested in not just how the Independence does, but also particularly their players and how we’re managing their minutes and where they’re playing.
The nice part for us is when guys do come up and down, that it’s a pretty easy fit. It’s a pretty smooth transition.
What has been the response about the upcoming move to Matthews?
It’s been great to have somewhere we can call home. It’s a fantastic stadium. We’re happy about that. The response so far has been great. The community has been extremely welcoming. I think people are excited about it.
Is there anything else that comes to mind about where you’re at and where you want to be?
We want to be higher up the standings. That’s the main thing. We don’t play our eighth game until June. That’s late, considering we started in March. For us, it’s trying to find a balance and see if we can get into a good rhythm, keep form and keep sharp.