The Wings tonight will play their first soccer game since a four-player trade that sent mainstays Jamar Beasley and Bryan Perez to Syracuse and brought back midfielders Andre Berenzon and Matthew Clare from the Silver Knights.
With more than a week to think about it, Wichita coach LeBaron Hollimon hasn’t changed his original stance that the move was bittersweet but necessary. At 1-4, the Wings haven’t yet lived up to expectations created by the offseason acquisitions of several top scorers.
The trade with Syracuse creates more distance between the Wings’ inaugural season and is the latest effort by Wichita to improve a struggling offense.
“Bad players don’t get traded,” Hollimon said. “These two guys that we got in the trade are going to give us things and tools that we feel that we need to help us get out of the situation we’re in.”
Syracuse and the Wings were in similar situations when the trade was made, with one win apiece, but the Silver Knights have won both of their games since the deal and Wichita hopes it has a similar effect. Syracuse has scored more points in its last two games than in the previous four combined games, fixing a previous weakness.
Many efforts have been made to correct the same problem for the Wings. Wichita has added some of the league’s top scorers from last season, including reigning MISL MVP Geison Moura, but nothing has worked so far.
Hollimon has already found difficulty blending new players, and additional roster turnover during the season could further complicate that process.
“Because of the way the season started, I feel like this is going to make it a little bit easier,” Hollimon said. “If we do well because of it, which I think we will, it was the right thing. If we don’t do well, then it’s just a matter of continuing the same path we were already on. It can’t get any worse, that’s kind of how I look at it.”
Clare and Berenzon have impressive track records in the league and combined for 18 points in six games before the trade, but a potential drawback is that their presence appeared to help Syracuse only marginally. The Silver Knights were 1-5 when the trade occurred, just as desperate as the Wings.
But as Hollimon pointed out, the Wings were also going nowhere with their two best scorers from a year ago, who had combined for five points this season, all by Perez.
“You look at our team, you could say that about the players on our team, as well,” Hollimon said. “Look at our record. The record doesn’t tell the whole story. It just tells a part of the story, it doesn’t tell the whole story. That part of the trade didn’t factor in at all, the fact that they were 1-5. They’re all quality players, but sometimes the mix isn’t right.”
With the trade of Beasley and Perez, Wichita is down to 10 of 18 players who were with the team last season. Beasley, Wichita’s veteran leader, was in many ways the face of the team, and a late scoring stretch by Perez last season seemed to indicate he was blossoming into a standout player.
“Not only is Jamar a good player, he’s a good person (and) a good professional,” Hollimon said. “The same goes for Bryan Perez. Losing Bryan was tough because he was one of our first signings as an organization. It was tough losing those guys, but (Syracuse) needed guys with midfield experience and that’s what these two guys have. We needed guys who can score goals, and that’s what (Clare and Berenzon) bring to us. It was definitely a win-win.”