The Madison 56ers have been preparing for their 11th season in the National Premier Soccer League, and kick off their schedule tonight with a friendly against Milwaukee's Bavarian SC.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the new turf field at Breese Stevens Field, and 56ers fans will want to make sure to grab a program.
That's because Madison's 37-player roster includes only seven players who have played for the team before: midfielder Keenan Newallo, forward Jed Hohlbein (Middleton/UW), defender Josh Thiermann (Stoughton/UW), Marquette midfielder Driton Zyteja (Sun Prairie), forward Max Campos and the Maranatha Baptist duo of forward Wira Wama and midfielder Taylor Pill (Watertown).
Newallo has been with the 56ers for every one of their seasons in the NPSL, along with manager Jim Launder, while Hohlbein has played all but one year and is the team's all-time leading scorer with 61 goals.
Thiermann has had a few stints with the team – he was a sophomore in high school when he played on the inaugural 2005 team. He started his college career at Notre Dame before finishing up at UW in 2011. Launder said he approached Thiermann about coming back to the NPSL team after watching him play at the President's Cup indoor tournament in February, and has been impressed with his form during preseason practices.
"He looks very good," Launder said of Thiermann, who struggled with injuries during his college career.
The roster features players from 12 countries: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, England, Ghana, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Spain and Venezuela in addition to the U.S. It also has 11 Wisconsin natives, including one high schooler: goalkeeper Noah Heim from Cambridge.
Launder said approximately 25 players have arrived in Madison, though not all of them are ready to play. He said all players who are available will play against the Bavarians, which is the 56ers' lone warmup match before Saturday's NPSL Midwest Region opener against the Minnesota Twin Stars in Minnetrista, Minn.
"I'm really going to treat it like a training game," Launder said. "Because if we go all-out and try to win tonight and get beat up, then it doesn't do us any good for Saturday."
Some of the new players to watch tonight include goalkeeper Joe White; defenders Callum Glen, Sam Della Monica, Ian Sagstetter and Felipe Mattar; midfielders David Martinez, Johnnie Longmore and Felipe Lillo; and forwards Tony Amolo and Gideon Asante – he played with the Charlotte Eagles in USL Pro last season.
Another intriguing newcomer, Romanian attacking player Lucian Pârvu, is out due to injury. The 32-year-old Pârvu has played professionally since 2001, most recently with Gloria Buzău in Liga II. Launder said that Hohlbein and Campos, who played with the 56ers in 2013, might not play tonight as they are coming back from injury.
Among the players who aren't yet with the team, Launder pointed out a quartet of midfielders – Venezuelan Carlos Martinez, Englishman Jordayne Henry, Spaniard Miguel Izquierdo and Drew Whalen from Western Illinois – as potential key contributors.
The 56ers have another home friendly next Wednesday against the Croatian Eagles, and their NPSL home opener is May 29 against the Minnesota United FC Reserves. The Midwest Region is being contested as one, 13-team competition this season.
Last season, Madison finished third in the Midwest Central Conference with a 4-3-3 record and went 4-4-5 overall – it was the first time the 56ers didn't have a winning record since their inaugural 2005 season. Madison is 90-45-23 overall and 62-23-15 in NPSL play all-time.
|No.||Player||Pos.||Current team||Previous team||Hometown|
|00||Noah Heim||GK||Cambridge-Deerfield HS||Cambridge|
|0||Scott Sibik||GK||UW-Platteville||Eau Claire Aris||Onalaska|
|1||Joe White||GK||Warner Pacific (Ore.)||William Carey||London, England|
|3||Felipe Mattar||D||Southeastern (Fla.)||Sao Paulo, Brazil|
|4||Sam Della Monica||D||Jamestown (N.D.)||Doncaster, England|
|5||Michael Barry||D||Hartford||Wethersfield, Conn.|
|6||Jacob Scotte-Hatherly||M||Jamestown (N.D.)||Devon, England|
|7||Johnnie Longmore||M||Aldershot Town||England|
|8||Miguel Izquierdo||M||William Carey (Miss.)||Burgos, Spain|
|9||Jordayne Henry||M||Epsom & Ewell FC||England|
|10||Carlos Martinez||M||Caracas, Venezuela|
|11||Lucian Pârvu||F||Gloria Buzău||Craiova, Romania|
|12||Ryan Shogren||D||UW-Parkside||Madison La Follette HS||Madison|
|14||Jack Hagstrom||D||Brown||Middleton HS||Middleton|
|16||Julius Goedhart||M||Hastings (Neb.)||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|18||Tony Amolo||F||Kenyon (Ohio)||Lagos, Nigeria|
|19||Drew Whalen||M||Western Illinois||Peoria, Ill.|
|20||Gideon Asante||F||Charlotte Eagles||Sunyani, Ghana|
|21||Samuel Novak||F||UW-Whitewater||Milton HS||Milton|
|22||Wira Wama||F||Maranatha Baptist||Hekari United||Kimbe, Papua New Guinea|
|23||Ian Sagstetter||D||Faulkner (Ala.)||Moulton (England)||Montgomery, Ala.|
|24||Zacc Roelke||D||Wisconsin||Madison East HS||Madison|
|25||David Martinez||M||Missouri Valley||Pto Ordaz, Venezuela|
|27||Felipe Lillo||M||Missouri Valley||Puerto Montt, Chile|
|29||Driton Zyteja||M||Marquette||Sun Prairie HS||Sun Prairie|
|30||Taylor Pill||M||Maranatha Baptist||Watertown|
|31||Max Campos||F||San Jose, Costa Rica|
|32||Shae Bottum||F||St. Thomas (Minn.)||Stillwater, Minn.|
|39||Tim Rogers||F||Maranatha Baptist||Willmar, Minn.|
Manager: Jim Launder, 11th season (90-45-23).