The Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club has a unified vision of winning championships right away.
Feb. 1 was the first official day of the preseason, and 17 seemingly like-minded professional soccer players began work to take USL League One by storm in its inaugural season that begins on March 30.
"This team is filled with captains, leaders and guys who have won championships and individual awards in their senior career," said center back Colin Falvey, who is a former USL pro defender of the year and was vital in helping put the Red Wolves' inaugural roster together with head coach Tim Hankinson. "In our first team meeting every player said they want to get their hands on the league trophy."
While USL League One is considered third-level on the pyramid of U.S. Soccer, several players decided to come play for the Red Wolves instead of proceeding in further talks with USL Championship clubs.
Standout defender Tony Walls, who was a captain and known for his aggressive play with the Rochester Rhinos, believes the new team can jell quickly.
"I played at the top of the USL League for five years, and I think top to bottom we can compete with any team in that league," he said. "I think we will be able to bring a lot of excitement to the city."
With nearly six years of Major League Soccer experience and 11 players with USL Championship time under their cleats, a more experienced rather than youthful bunch expects to feature some of USL League One's top talents.
Shifty midfielder Steven Beattie, a two-time NCAA Division II national player of the year for Northern Kentucky University, is one of 11 foreign-born players on the Red Wolves. The Irishman believes they will provide excitement for the fans every time they play at Chattanooga Christian School's David Stanton Field this year.
"We will definitely bring an elite level of soccer to the table," said Beattie, who is a League of Ireland Premier Division champion. "I think the city has never experienced this level of soccer before that we are going to bring. On both sides of the ball we have outstanding players, even on our bench."
For Coach Hankinson, a "test of mettle" will come for the Red Wolves when they host Atlanta United 2 on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. The reserves for the MLS champion club compete in the USL Championship division.
"Expectations are high," Hankinson said. "Our guys have known how to get the job done and will fight together. If we can bring our best every day, we can win the inaugural championship."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at email@example.com.