There is reason for the Wings, and coach LeBaron Hollimon, to trust the process. Wichita brought in several new players, some of whom were used to being the best player on their team, and time is necessary for chemistry to be established.
In light of the Wings’ 0-3 start, Hollimon has all but abandoned that philosophy. Wichita fell behind two divisional opponents by losing twice to Missouri and once to defending-MISL champion Milwaukee.
Since taking a 13-0 lead over Missouri in the season opener, the Wings have been outscored 49-16, leading Hollimon to the conclusion that it’s time to think about a new process.
"Definitely time for self-examination for me, by all means," Hollimon said. "At the end of the day, it falls on my shoulders. I definitely have to self-evaluate the things that I’m doing, the things that I’m trying to implement. Are they the right things for this team? Do I have the players in the right situations and positions? Absoultely, it’s a self-evaluation for me."
Though the Wings significantly improved, on paper, with the additions of players such as reigning MISL MVP Geison Moura, Miguel Ferrer, Brad Hoxie and others, Hollimon’s job remains as challenging as it was when the roster wasn’t as stacked, perhaps more so.
Wichita’s struggles indicate that he hasn’t yet found away to successfully blend the Wings’ new players with the holdovers. Injuries to key players last season forced players into new roles, so the returners are learning to settle in to permanent positions that aren’t the same as last season.
All but six of the Wings’ 39 points have come from new players, and two of last season’s top scorers, Freddie Moojen and Jamar Beasley, haven’t scored. Beasley didn’t play against the Wave due to injury.
"I’ve never lost confidence in the team," Hollimon said. "Maybe this start is a blessing in disguise. It gave us a chance to see exactly what our defeciencies are so that we have a chance to really work on them and get those things sorted out without a false sense of security as we’re into the season."
The Wings’ defense has been a weakness, often getting outrun down the field. That leads to breakaway chances for opponents and puts undue pressure on Wings goalie Sanaldo Carvalho.
Wichita is also failing to make the most of its own scoring chances, netting 14 goals on 69 attempts. By comparison, Missouri has scored on 32 of 79, a 20-percent advantage. The Wings’ defensive issues are most evident in one statistic — opponents have scored on 21 of 53 shots.
Schemiatic changes might only take the Wings so far, but they’d be a necessary first step for a team looking to find chemistry and an identity. Hollimon points to the inexperience of several of the Wings’ most important players as a reason for patience.
"You combine all of that together and it’s definitely not where we want to be," Hollimon said. "But it helps give a little bit of perspective on what we need to do."