Memphis 901 FC continued preparations for the 2023 regular season with two split-squad scrimmages against the University of Memphis and St. Louis City SC 2 over the weekend, drawing the Tigers 1-1 and dropping the second friendly 1-0.
Leading the group in the scrimmage at Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex on University of Memphis campus was Aaron Molloy, who notched the goal from a penalty kick that flew into the top left corner of the goal. The midfielder is entering his second year with the club with high expectations after playing a large role in leading the team to their best finish in franchise history in 2022.
Molloy earned First Team All-League honors and finished second in the USL Championship MVP voting after scoring eight goals and tallying 10 assists, a single-season club record.
The Irish midfielder served as the primary kick taker in 2022 and led the team in chances created with 74 chances created and 64 key passes. Molloy said he and his teammates along with the new coaching staff established early that the goal is to build on and exceed last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal exit.
“I think a lot of the returners still have that fire in their belly from last year and I think we want to keep on and go a step forward, get to a final or win the whole thing,” Molloy said. “That’s our mindset. This year, our sights are on a trophy and I think we can do that.”
The club has signed a few new goal-creating weapons in Bruno Lapa and Sebastián Velásquez while retaining the core of one of the most dangerous midfields in the USLC. With those new pieces, a new element of competition for minutes on the pitch has shown on the training ground.
“The new guys have come in and they’ve actually raised the level,” Molloy said. “There’s spots up for grabs and everyone wants to play in the game on March 11 so the competitive nature has risen. That brings out the best in people. These players coming in are all fantastic people, fantastic players and we’re all excited to get going in the season.”
Saturday’s final preseason friendly against Birmingham Legion serves as a regular season dress rehearsal, giving the club their last test before embarking on their 2023 campaign.
“For me, the season really starts against Birmingham,” Molloy said. “It’s a rivalry game.They have a really good group and had a really good season last year. They beat us twice last year, so for me personally, I’m super excited to go and compete against those guys. It’s a real test before heading to the real thing.”
Memphis 901 FC opens the regular season against Loudoun United FC on March 11 at AutoZone Park with a 4 p.m. CT kickoff time. Tickets are available on the club website.