One way or another, the Madison 56ers inaugural season in the United Premier Soccer League — the nation’s largest semi-pro league — is going to kick off on May 12 when the 56ers travel to Milwaukee to take on the Milwaukee Croatians. That much is sure, at least for now.
Who exactly will be a 56er when that game happens is another question. Spring of 2018 has been unlike any other in terms of weather and unseasonable snows have prevented the 56ers from doing the necessary tryouts in order to see exactly who will be playing against the Croatians a week from Saturday.
“It’ll be a scramble,” 56ers Coach Jim Launder told Madison365. “The tryouts got snowed out so we’re having them on Sunday. With this rain and mud who knows if the fields will be too wet on Sunday? So it’s a scramble.”
The tryouts Launder referred to will take place on Sunday, May 6 from 1-3 pm at University Bay Fields. Any players interested in joining the 56ers can contact the Club using this form: http://upsl.madison56ers.org/downloads/tryout-registration.pdf
Launder says he would love for more interested players to try out and hopes to start getting the regular roster together so that building team chemistry isn’t as difficult a challenge as it is when seasons start as chaotically as this one.
“Things last year ended very well but it was chaotic at the beginning as well,” Launder said. “The years we’ve been really good we got our group together earlier. We do have some returning players and some of the new kids coming to tryouts, I’ve had a look at. We’ll get our team together! We did it late this year because of the weather.”
Launder said he tries to use one or two ex-pro players just to bolster the roster and is still in search of some to be on the team this season. The rest of the roster is usually comprised of four or five high school kids and everyone else is college-aged.
The 56ers were founded, as the name would suggest, in 1956 and the Club has won the Midwest Division four times, making it the most successful team in the Division. The 56ers will play 10 total games and their home opener will be on May 25 at Breese Stevens Field.
Launder said the 56ers will be going through some changes as an organization moving forward. Launder says the Club is trying to transition from being a seasonal club to a full year club, that plays games year round.
“We’re trying to transition into a full year club and so that means we would have to get different kinds of players,” he said. “We’d have more local players then and we’d have guys play all year using Breese Stevens.”
After tryouts on May 6, Launder hopes to have a better idea of how the Club looks for this season and promises things will come together just fine now that the weather is improving.
“There’s one young player in particular who I think is gonna be able to develop. I’ve got one Turkish player I think will be good,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ll still play some pretty good soccer.”