The B-52s lost to Dallas 15-3 in their franchise debut last weekend on the road, but the lopsided defeat provided Wichita’s professional soccer team with a barometer.
Dallas, coached by Tatu, a former star of the Dallas and Wichita Wings franchises, is one of the top picks to win the Premier Arena Soccer League, and the B-52s now know what they’re up against as they attempt to climb to respectability.
No team allowed more goals in a PASL season opener – the league, unlike the MISL, features only one-point scoring – and none scored fewer. The process of improvement, Wichita coach Larry Inlow believes, is staying on course.
“We had a pretty monumental task ahead of us, taking the Sidekicks on in their home opener,” Inlow said. “…That being said, we are certainly way better a team than our performance let on. (Thursday) night we had a film session … and we took a lot of positives from our game and we found a lot of things we hope we can add to our game to give us a better outcome.”
Inlow’s first goal is easing roster turmoil and unfamiliarity. Kevin TenEyck is out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and defender Chris Lemons, a fellow holdover from the final season of the Wings, is awaiting word on whether he can return to the team after dealing with a foot injury.
Aside from those injuries, several Wings players are playing professionally for the first time, and others are playing indoor soccer for the first time. Inlow, who has no previous head-coaching experience on this level, finds himself having to teach the intricacies of the game to players who have never played together.
The combination of those two early-season challenges presents a difficult task for Inlow, albeit one he embraces.
“The coaching staff (from Dallas) came up to me and said, ‘Keep your head up,’” Inlow said. ‘“Once this team learns the indoor game and you can teach them to stay with a strategy, they are going to be very good very quickly.’
“I think it’s positive that the best team in our conference sees the potential that we have and are definitely paying attention to our progress.”
Inlow, excited to debut his team in Wichita on Saturday against Illinois, doesn’t expect a similar result as last weekend.
“Right now,” Inlow said, “no panic button.”