Memphis 901 FC Poised to Begin Inaugural Preseason Training
MEMPHIS, Tennessee - When Friday rolls around, and Memphis 901 FC head coach Tim Mulqueen addresses his team for the first time during the season-opening team meeting, it will be the culmination of six months of work building his first squad - and even longer for the ownership group working to bring professional soccer back to The Bluff City.
And on Monday, as the balls get rolled out, the whistles blow, and pro soccer takes shape once again in Memphis during the team's first practice, the vibe around AutoZone Park switches from a vision - to reality.
"Six months ago, (everything) seemed like an eternity away, and now we're less than 48 hours away from our first team activity," Mulqueen said. "It's amazing that we've gotten to this stage, but it takes a village. Everybody has worked so hard to put this together to get us ready for that Friday morning when all get together for the first time. It's exciting."
The group of players who form Memphis 901 FC's inaugural team come from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and histories, but all now strive towards the common goal of bringing a championship to their new city.
Newly-announced team captain Marc Burch, a 13-year professional veteran and MLS standout, has donned many different crests during his career.
But joining Memphis 901 FC at this time represents a first for someone who doesn't have many "firsts" left to add to his list of accomplishments.
"I've gone to teams that are newer teams, but never one that's just starting off and putting something together that's going to represent the city," Burch said. "Joining something like this is important to me and my career because I want to leave my stamp on something, and I think this is something I can do."
As the team works towards its first USL Championship match on March 9, it does so with Mulqueen, and Burch as captain, leading the way sharing similar visions for what can be accomplished in Memphis.
"A captain has to be an extension of me," Mulqueen stated. "With my conversations with Marc prior to him joining the team, we had similar philosophies on how we viewed the game and things that we found important. He mentioned hard work, but also commitment on and off the field.
"We come from similar backgrounds in Major League Soccer. I've been in the league 12 years. He was in it for 13. So, we have been on a similar journey. It was time for both of us to step out on our own, and we wanted to do it together. Our views were the same, our philosophies were the same, and I feel very confident that I can trust him to lead the group."
"I've learned so much," Burch said. "I've worked with so many experienced players, experienced coaches, that with younger guys, older guys, it doesn't really matter. It's all about soccer. It's all about the love of the game."
And Burch choosing to continue his playing career in Memphis is something the city can rally around and be proud of.
"Marc had suitors in Major League Soccer that he could have gone to, but he chose to come to Memphis," Mulqueen explained. "I think that gives us a large jump into the credibility pool, without a doubt. I think it says that the owners are doing it right.
"I think it says that the city has a buzz around it soccer-wise that people want to get to know."
"Every day we're going to prove to the city that we're going to work as hard as we possibly can to be good," Burch said. "It's your guys' (the city's) club, and I'm coming here to try and represent it."
Memphis 901 FC's inaugural USL Championship season kicks off at AutoZone Park on Saturday, March 9 at 6:00 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Season tickets and group tickets are available, with full season tickets starting at just $10 per match. Call (901) 721-6000 or go to www.memphis901fc.com/tickets for more information.
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