Jamal Lis-Simmons is a familiar face for Kingston Stockade FC. He spent three seasons as the team’s captain and won a number of awards, including 2016 All-NPSL Honorable Mention and
2017 All-NPSL First Team honors. Arguably the most decorated player in club history, Lis-Simmons transitioned to the role of head coach this year. He has made the transition look so easy and already has a 2-1 win over Newtown Pride FC under his belt.
“I’m glad to say the transition from player to coach has been smooth,” Lis-Simmons remarked. “Being the captain of the team for the last three years I was able to establish good lines of communication with the players and coaching staff. These relationships are a big reason for the smooth transition. I would say my coaching style is centered around building a highly competitive atmosphere at our training sessions and creating an environment that players want to be a part of.”
His first official league match as a head coach puts his squad against New York Cosmos B on Saturday, May 4th.
“Our goal is to compete for the conference title and to do that we have to beat teams like the Cosmos,” Lis-Simmons commented. “We’re expecting a tough game. They’re a quality side, but our mentality is to win every game and give our fans something to be proud of. We’re excited to start the season.”
As the name suggests, the Cosmos boast a truly “cosmopolitan” roster, one that includes players that have played professionally in Albania, Azerbaijan, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland to name a few. Cosmos B players have competed at the highest levels of the game, including the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Champions League.
The Cosmos are a worthy opponent, but Kingston have a talented and hungry squad of their own. Many players have been with Stockade FC for multiple seasons.
“We have a great nucleus of returning players who will play critical roles on and off the field,” Stockade FC Technical Director Dan Hoffay noted. “Guys like Matt Koziol, Pedro Espindola, Juan Parada, Bernardo Mattos, Danilo Markovic and Afonso Pinheiro will play major roles for us on the field and bring a veteran leadership to the squad.”
These veteran players are well aware of the fact that Stockade FC need to start the season strong.
“On the field, our goal is to complete for the North Atlantic Conference title and beyond and quality for the U.S. Open Cup,” Lis-Simmons added. “Off the field, our goal has always been to be a unifying force within our community and give our fans something to be proud of.”
Kingston also have the benefit of a solid group of newcomers that should make a major impact.
“Conner Rezende (Miami FC), Joao Avila (Marist), Riccardo Iafrate (UAlbany), Frankie Ljucovic (Gonzaga), Paul Majak (Fordham), Alejandro Riquelme (Siena), and Tyler Swanbeck (Siena) are some guys to be on the lookout for as newcomers in 2019. They will be bringing high level D-I talent and experience to the club.”
Stockade FC has the advantage of starting the regular season at home; Dietz Stadium has become a fortress over the past three seasons.
“It is important, in our conference, to win at home and we know that our Dietz Stadium crowd will give us a competitive edge every match,” Hoffay concluded. “Playing the Cosmos is no exception. We expect a tough matchup against a strong side but our mentality, like with every match, is that we win.”
It’s certain that someone will step up and fill the big shoes left behind by Lis-Simmons, who is now roaming the sidelines instead of making plays on the pitch. It’s a new role, but this fan favorite will do what he always does: win.
Photo Credit: TM Photography and Ken Tishenkel/ISNSoccer.com