Brilla begin work for 2022 season
CLINTON, Miss. (WLBT) - The usual muggy weather of Mississippi on a Friday morning in May took some time for Matt Horth to get used to.
After all, the new Mississippi Brilla head coach had arrived in Clinton from his home in Boston, Massachusetts only two days prior, so there was no time to get acclimated with the weather or even his new team.
“It’s been a rush, but it’s been a thrill,” said Horth who, along with his wife and two children, picked Mississippi as his summer home. “We’re finding our feet a little bit, but we’ve heard nothing but good things.”
One of the good things Horth heard about was the very club he’s taking over. Coming off of last season’s Mid-South Division title, the Brilla are back to keep that momentum going. The success in 2021 is one of the big reasons why Horth, who is also currently the head coach of his alma mater Gordon College, wanted the Brilla job.
While rampant turnover in USL League 2 is commonplace year in and year out, the 2022 Brilla roster does return a rare nucleus of five players from a season ago.
“It’s fun, because there’s more comfort when you know that guys have been here,” said right back and Clinton-native Luke Bryant ahead of his third season with the Brilla. “Before some of the guys even get here, they are already asking me what to do around here and I make sure to tell them where all the best restaurants and movie theaters are.”
But while there will be some downtime throughout the summer, the majority of the coming days will be spent at Clinton High School. The first practice was a little jarring considering some players still haven’t even arrived yet while some of the ones that were there were meeting their new teammates for the first time.
With the Brilla’s first game of the season just a week away, Horth is charged with molding a hastily put together melting pot and turn it into coherent soccer in the matter of days.
“As guys learn each others names, they also learn to rely on each other on the field.” Horth explained. “It’s just a great opportunity to get together with a group of guys from all over the world and coach them. It makes me better as a coach and it makes these guys better as players.”
Horth best describes his Brilla squad as eclectic.
Of his 28 players, 11 of them are from outside of the United States with Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, England, Georgia, Germany, France and Spain all represented on the roster.
“I like it so far,” said French forward Franck Kouentchi of his short time with the Brilla. “It’s exciting to meet new people, new players. I just take each day one by one and see what tomorrow brings.”
The Brilla open the 2022 season on May 21 when it welcomes the Little Rock Rangers. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. at Clinton High School for the first of seven home games this season. Single game tickets cost $5 while season ticket packages start at $25.
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