After over a week of training featuring new and familiar faces, Memphis 901 FC opened their preseason match schedule with a friendly against Chattanooga FC on Saturday.
The club faced last season’s US Open Cup opponents in four 30-minute periods with all players on the camp roster getting 60 minutes of run. Returning starters and new signees were mixed with trial players in two groups, and 901 FC’s trademark dangerous attacking pressure combined with a revamped defense to produce a strong result.
Newcomer Bruno Lapa opened the scoring for 901 FC in the first period on a one-touch finish inside the box. Jeremy Kelly and Nighte Pickering followed with goals of their own before Laurent Kissiedou delivered the goal of the day with a bending strike into the back of the net from 10 yards outside of the box in the final period of the match. The new additions to the back line started strong, conceding only one goal on a handful of Chattanooga chances on the day.
Head Coach Stephen Glass said he was pleased with the performance in the first friendly of the preseason and identified spots of emphasis for the club moving forward.
“The boys are really close knit, you can tell. I think that’s important in terms of keeping the group together from last year,” Glass said. “The people within the city and everyone that I’ve spoken to are very friendly. There’s a lot of interest and I think a lot of people saw the success last year and want us to build on it. The club’s ready to keep it going.”
Pickering Primed for a Big 2023
Nighte Pickering returned to Memphis from domestic camp last week with the US U-19 National Team ready to make an impact in his second season as a professional, starting with a goal in the first friendly of the year.
The 18-year old forward scored two goals in seven appearances in 2022, and said the focus in training has been on making adjustments to improve the system that resulted in the success of last season.
“It’s been a good experience. I hope to keep building with them, building relationships. He’s been having us work hard,” Pickering said. “We’ve been adapting to the way he wants us to play, which isn’t much different than last year. He’s come in and pretty much said he doesn’t want to change the Memphis way. He wants us to improve and go even farther than we did last year.”
Pickering remarked that the intensity and competition during training has been strong and the new faces in the club have assimilated quickly.
“We’re working really hard in training. We all came into preseason in shape,” he said. “In training, most of the same guys are here and the new guys have mixed well with the group. The club didn’t pick out strangers, they picked out players they knew would fit our team well.”