There are still more questions than answers for John Galas, head coach of Lane United Football Club, as his team prepares for its home opener Sunday. But there's no mistaking the boss's optimism.
With three friendlies and one Premier Development League match under their belts — a 4-1 road win against TSS FC Rovers on Monday — the Reds come into this weekend's game hungry to build on their early season momentum.
"We're feeling pretty good," Galas said. "It's always interesting to see how quickly we can mesh. Every group is different, but the spirit in this group is excellent.
"The results will obviously dictate how we move forward, but I'm certainly optimistic about the season."
With eight returning LUFC players and a variety of fresh faces, Galas said he likes the depth and breadth of talent on this year's roster.
The Reds should be solid through the spine, anchored by central defenders Jon Stadler, a three-time returning Lane United player and last season's captain, and Julius Fohr, an international prospect from Berlin who recently finished his freshman season at Creighton.
"I honestly didn't think we would sign Jon this year," Galas said. "I'm a bit surprised he hasn't latched on (professionally) to be honest, but I think I can speak for all us here at the club when I say we are delighted to welcome him back.
"The thing about Julius is just his personality. He certainly has a presence about him and I think he will help strengthen our back line."
Another foreign product, Danish midfielder Soren Jensen, will provide some bite in a central defensive role, and Galas has several attacking options up front, including Nick Moon, who led the Reds with six goals last summer.
Anthony Macchione is another striker who is back for a second season with LUFC, and fellow returners Matthias Binder and Hassani Dotson give Galas options in the midfield.
The roster will also feature some familiar faces for local soccer fans. Recent signing Sam Engle, who led South Eugene to three straight league titles during his prep career, scored two goals in the Reds' friendly against Starfire FC on May 10. Two other SEHS grads, Casey and Collin ChubbFertal, will join Lane United following successful collegiate seasons at the University of Redlands.
Bend native Sam Buzzas will join the Reds for a second consecutive summer after a strong freshman season at Xavier, where he started all 20 matches as a defender. Woodburn graduate and Oregon State defender Eric Diaz will also provide depth on the back line.
As far as what fans can expect to see this summer, Galas said the Reds will look to dominate possession and dictate the tempo of games.
"We're very much a possession-oriented team," he said. "We want to be on the front foot and control play as much as we can, but we're also very pragmatic and will change our approach if that's what it takes to get a result.
"We have a game model that we want to follow, but there are obviously variations on that model."
The Reds will play the first of nine home matches Sunday. The home opener against the Seattle Sounders FC U23 club will kick off at 2 p.m. at Les Schwab Sports Park in Springfield. Lane United will play five of its next six games on the road before enjoying a string of seven straight home matches in June and July.