If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, the saying goes.
But if you are Lansing United, who just finished its first regular season in the NPSL the saying should go a little more like this.
At first, succeed.
The inaugural season for the club was met with outstanding success, with the team claiming first place in the Great Lakes West Conference, and a spot in the NPSL playoffs.
All the team needed was a draw in its final match against Detroit City FC, but star forwards Matt Brown and Brian Cunningham both said there was never anything on their minds but winning.
“Of course we play to win,” Cunningham said. “We wanted to win in front of the crowd, in front of all the fans that had been supporting us all year. So we didn’t come out with the mentality of ‘Oh, let’s just get a draw,’ we came out saying hey ‘Let’s go get a result and have something to be proud about.'”
“We went out to win the game, but we knew we had to try and keep a clean sheet because we knew if we kept a clean sheet we would (likely) win the game,” Brown said. “But we went out there and got the two goals anyway, so it was nice.”
Cunningham said that mentality to win had been there since the start among the players, who were coming together for the first time.
“Everybody came with the mentality of wanting to win and improve as players, represent something greater than each other individually. It’s been great to be a part of it,” Cunningham said.
Although the team was just in its first season, in a hotly competitive conference, the team was able to pull a large number of fans on average to its home matches.
Playing in front of the fans has been a big part of what makes Lansing so special, Cunningham said.
“I think all year our average has been more than what the original capacity for the stadium was. Every game has been pretty plugged in, especially the Detroit game at the end of the year,” Cunningham said. “That’s when everybody came out and supported us because they knew the conference title was on the line. But it’s been pretty consistent, everybody’s excited to have us in Lansing.”
With the first match of the playoffs on Saturday, the team has been training heavier than ever, especially without knowing what is on the horizon.
“Heavy preparation, right now some of us are staying after trying to get some extra work in. We know we can’t take our foot of the gas, we’ve just got to keep going and if anything we’ve got to increase the intensity because as of right now it’s win or go home,” Cunningham said.
Brown added that it is an unknown for Lansing, but playing outside of the conferences provides unknowns for the rest of the teams as well.
“I don’t know what to expect from the first game. I don’t know what to expect, the other players don’t know what to expect, so we just try and perform to the best we can and see what happens,” Brown said. “I think we’ll get a good picture on Saturday of what the standard will be. Obviously different regions have different standards and we don’t know ourselves, but it’s the same for them.”