The Southwest Florida Adrenaline are ready to kick off the 2016 season Saturday at 4 p.m., as they host FC Miami City at Estero High School. There’s already been a change at head coach, though. Alan Scott will be the man.
Bobby Paterson, a USSF A-licensed coach from England who has about 30 years of combined soccer experience, originally intended to coach the team this season. Scott would’ve used the season to learn from Paterson, then take over the head coaching position for 2017.
Paterson couldn’t make it to the U.S. before the season-opener, so Scott got the nod.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me, I’m very blessed to have,” Scott said. “I was kind of looking forward to learning from Bobby, but at the same time, I’ve had some great mentors. It’s the same game I’ve been coaching the last eight years and I’m just going to have fun with it.”
Scott recently finished his eighth season as boys soccer coach at Gulf Coast High School, during which he took the Sharks to the state championship.
He’ll have some familiar faces on his roster, including Gulf Coast players Dylan Rodrigues and Naples Daily News Boys Soccer Player of the Year Sebastian Joffre when they’re eligible after their club seasons are over. Palmetto Ridge’s Wayne Walter is also on the roster and Naples graduate Ben Tweedie is back for another season.
The Adrenaline welcomed back goalkeeper Michael Yantz, who averaged less than one goal allowed per game last season.
“I just think with a strong goalkeeping there is a lot of good things you can do,” Scott said. “If you have confidence in your goalie, your defense can take some risks.”
Yantz, along with midfielder Billal Qsiyer, were selected to last year’s Southern Conference all-conference team. Qsiyer is also back for the 2016 season.
FC Miami City (0-0-1) didn’t let the Adrenaline into its net in 2015, holding them scoreless in three matchups. Southwest Florida finished with two losses and a draw against the Champions.
The Adrenaline have added some firepower, though, including forward Tosan Popo, who racked up nine goals and 17 assists as a junior at Rollins College last season.
“Just a terrific young kid and (he) has a lot of playing experience,” Scott said. “He’s definitely one that we can see standing out.”
Christian McKeown, who played under Paterson at Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy, and Hofstra freshman Daniel Massey will both join Popo on the offensive side of the field.
Southwest Florida fell short of the postseason in 2015 after finishing 6-4-4. It finished the season strong, though, winning its final two games by a combined score of 11-1. Team owner Jeff Butzke doesn’t see a weakness in his 2016 squad.
“The strength of this team at every position is competition,” he said. “It’s a strong, strong team up and down the roster, so that’s where we’re going to be difficult to beat.”
The Adrenaline also made changes to its community efforts. Instead of designating several different beneficiaries, it will make a donation to Estero High School after each home game. The team will donate $1 per person in attendance to Estero’s booster club.