The Fresno Fuego soccer team was in high spirits Tuesday evening, despite the sudden departure of former head coach Sean Lanigan.
The players’ focus was on their next match, a divisional showdown against the Las Vegas Mobsters at Chukchansi Park at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The soccer club announced Tuesday that Lanigan had resigned for personal reasons just two matches into the Premier Development League season.
“We’ve all been a part of different clubs and there are going to be situations that you are going to be faced with and you have to be professional in how you deal with them,” said team captain and midfielder Milton Blanco.
“We understand there are some personal matters he has to deal with, we wish him the best and hopefully we make him proud the rest of the season.”
The Fuego are coming off a 5-1 win over SF City FC that saw Blanco lead the way with one goal and two assists. Blanco’s effort earned him a spot on the PDL Team of the Week, the league announced Wednesday.
But that was just the season’s first win and the Fuego (1-1) can’t let off the gas, according to Blanco.
“We can’t be satisfied,” he said. “We came out hard because we lost the last game (1-0 to Burlingame FC). We have to have that same mentality that if we keep working hard and keep improving, the results will come.”
Interim coach Brian Zwaschka wants to keep that rhythm going as the Fuego host the Mobsters (1-1) for two games in three days, playing again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Zwaschka said “there will be no wholesale changes on the horizon,” and that his goal is to “make sure the guys don’t miss a beat.”
In the coming weeks, however, the Fuego and other teams across the PDL will see more collegiate athletes on their rosters as players around the country finish their spring sessions.
In the meantime, the Fuego will be searching for a second assistant coach (joining assistant Jose Delgadillo). Zwaschka said the club will likely be looking for a goalkeeping specialist to help replace what knowledge was lost with Lanigan’s resignation, and a fitness/speed coach.
▪ The Fresno Freeze (1-0) continues its WPSL season with a pair of matches ahead of both Fuego games. The Freeze will play Primero de Mayo (0-0) on Thursday and the Tottenham Hotspur East Bay Ladies (1-1) on Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for 5 p.m.
Soccer doubleheader Friday
WPSL: FRESNO FREEZE VS. PRIMERO DE MAYO
- Kickoff: 5 p.m. at Chukchansi Park
- Records: Freeze 1-0, Primero de Mayo 0-0
PDL: FRESNO FUEGO VS. LAS VEGAS MOBSTERS
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Chukchansi Park
- Records: Fuego 1-1-0, Mobsters 1-1-0
- Webcast/TV: Youtube.com/CMACFresno (Xfinity 94/AT&T U-Verse 99)
- Of note: Las Vegas is coming off a 1-0 loss to BYU Cougars on Monday. The Mobsters opened with a 2-0 win over Albuquerque Sol FC last Saturday. Forward Naia Graham scored both goals, earning him a spot on the PDL Team of the Week.