New Orleans Jesters Coach Kenny Farrell looks from the stands at Pan American Stadium and sees his team limber up for practice on a hot, muggy day. He welcomes the fact he's been graced with a group of athletes ready for a task that very few soccer teams have in front of them.
In a span of 26 hours, starting at 7 tonight and ending around 9pm Saturday, the Jesters will have played two games - something rarely done in any soccer league.
"It's something I didn't want to do but the league forced us into," Farrell said. "We've done it on the road but not at home, but we only have to do it once."
Fortunately for the Jesters, both games are at home, at Pan American Stadium. Tonight's home opener is against the Laredo Heat, and Saturday's game is against RGV Grandes, a team based in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
The Laredo Heat is one of the better teams in the Premier Development League. Laredo is 3-1, losing only to El Paso, which beat New Orleans on May 19.
"You look at Laredo, they go to the playoffs every year, they've won the national championship a couple of times, and they played FC Dallas (of the MLS) to a 2-1 loss," Farrell said. "The organization really transcends the team. They're going to be really tough."
RGV is 0-4, but the fatigue the Jesters will encounter from tonight's game might play into RGV's hands Saturday.
However, Farrell is pleased with the conditioning his team has maintained. That coupled with the fact the Jesters are made up of primarily college players gives them plenty of depth to counter RGV's perceived advantage.
"The difference this year as opposed to other years when we play back-to-back games is the strength of this squad," Farrell said. "Many players are going to be needed, because when we finish, we have 24 hours to turn around and do it again."
Former Jesuit star and Maryland player Patrick Mullins said he's ready for the unusual scheduling.
"We've played three games (at Maryland) in eight days, so it's a short amount of time," he said. "Obviously, this isn't favorable, but we have to adjust to it and make the best of it."
And making the best of it would be to come out with two victories. Going further, Farrell agreed the perfect scenario would be to have a three-goal lead tonight with 15 minutes left to rest his more experienced players.
Perhaps the wishful thinking is not far from reality if the preparation is right. Farrell stressed the importance of how his team needs to be focused.
"It's all preparation," he said. "They have to be in a zone from now until late Saturday night. This is a minor league, but if they want to get into the big leagues, this is the stuff they have to be able to deal with. And they have to come out of it with a good result."
Farrell said the Jesters worked hard early in the week, but have tapered practice. Farrell said he wants them to do virtually nothing.
"After (today), they'll go home, they'll rest well, they'll be in the air conditioning, they won't get out of their beds except to go to the bathroom," he said. New Orleans Soccer Central stories with the most comments in the last 7 days.