By Andrew Johnson
Collins, the longtime team captain for the Risers, had been a player/assistant coach this season while owner Matt Schmitt coached the team. He was recently injured in a game, which led the decision to take over the head coaching duties right now.
“I kind of took a knock at Oakland (on July 13),” Collins said. “So I came off at halftime when it was nil-nil, and I just saw it from the sideline and thought I can be way more use to Matt by running things now.”
While Wednesday may have been the first Risers game that Collins coached, he’s no stranger to the sideline. Collins is an assistant coach for the NCAA Division 2 Davenport University men’s soccer team while also being the executive director of coaching for the Michigan Fire junior development program.
“I’m far more at home probably on the sidelines these days,” said Collins about his level of comfort on Wednesday. “I’m on the sideline every single day, so it’s very comfortable for me.”
While Collins is comfortable on the sidelines, it was the Milwaukee Torrent that was more comfortable on the field on Wednesday at Muskegon Catholic Central’s Kehren Stadium.
Milwaukee controlled the pace and possession for most of the night, outshooting the Risers 8-1 in the contest.
The first Torrent goal came only 8:36 into the game when Diego Hurtado converted a penalty shot into the goal.
Milwaukee added to its lead at the 40:36 mark when Jeison Valencia ripped a shot to the left side of the goal, just past the outstretched arms of Risers goalkeeper Aaron Orban.
The lone second half goal came from Leo Lenth when he rocketed a shot home from the top of the box, making the score 3-0 in favor of Milwaukee.
The score probably wasn’t all that surprising, considering Milwaukee, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League, is the first full professional team to play the Risers.
Collins is hopeful that Milwaukee’s level of play is where the Risers will be in a short time under his leadership.
“I’m very optimistic,” Collins said. “I come from a winning collegiate program and come from a program that’s very successful with a very definite identity. I have a lot of experience doing this and building programs and being proud of programs that win. I don’t think we’re very far away.”