Memphis 901 FC is in the middle of their best season since joining the USL Championship with 39 points and only five loses in 20 regular season games, but there’s no sense of satisfaction on the training grounds for the Bluff City Boys.
After splitting points with Indy Eleven on the road, 901 FC has utilized the 10-day break between matches focused on taking the steps required for turning a strong start into a playoff run. Memphis has proven to be among the most energetic and high-tempo clubs in the USL this season and that philosophy is evident in the intensity of the training sessions led by Head Coach Ben Pirmann.
“It’s been a little bit of a tough balance. We gave the guys a couple of days off after a tough game against a good opponent,” Pirmann said. “We’re back to finding a good balance of our workload and our output. We’ve got to keep finding the right balance and push ourselves to get better and make sure we’re mentally and physically fresh and make sure we have the desire to keep pushing on and go from there.”
Striking the balance has been the focus as each player looks to play a part in helping the club make the jump from regular season force to title contender. Goalkeeper Trey Muse has been a steady presence in the first half of the season with five clean sheets in 18 starts and said the break was welcome, but the group kept in mind what needed to improve.
“At the beginning, the focus was to take some time off. The first thing was to get the body ready and catch back up on sleep from that travel back from Indy,” Muse said. Coming back here, it was sharpening up on things we identified we want to get better. It’s some defensive stuff, some things in front of goal. And individually we’ve all got stuff we want to work on through the training session and after training.”
901 FC is squarely in the hunt for an Eastern Conference regular season title going into the home stretch.The club currently sits at No. 3 in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the No. 2 Tampa Bay Rowdies and four points behind No. 1 Louisville City FC with 14 matches remaining in the regular season.
They’ll face New York Red Bulls II on the road on Wednesday, August 3 and return home on Saturday, August 6 to host Hartford Athletic. With the two-match week approaching, the team’s one-step-at-a-time mindset will continue to help them improve in every facet of the game.
“For us, the next focus is always the next match. All we cared about after the Indy game was doing whatever we can to beat Red Bulls,” Pirmann said. “After that match, win, lose or draw, we’re going to prepare for Hartford and then Pittsburgh and so on. The pedal is not always to the medal, but we just want to keep getting better, we want to be the hardest workers on the field.”
Pirmann said the team’s training mentality has been the same since March and expects his players not to lose sight of the goals laid out at the beginning of the season.
“We want to win every game, that doesn’t change,” Muse said. “I think going into each match we try to find ways to beat each team. We’ve got to bring the intensity in training if we’re going to have a chance to win on the weekends. We want to win. We want to win every game and try to get into first place.”