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Beat GM Gives Updates on Team Before Game Against FC Gold Pride

Posted on April 24, 2010 by Whitney Keller

Atlanta Beat General Manager Shawn McGee sat down again this week before the Beat’s match against FC Gold Pride to talk about the team’s progress and what goes on behind the scenes in working for the team.

WK: How did you feel about the Beat scoring their first goal against the Washington Freedom last weekend?

SM: I think it was exciting. We got the ball from the game that was presented to Fitz [Johnson]. It’s very exciting to score your first goal, even though I wish we would have scored more and won the game. I think it’s fitting that Ramona [Bachman], who is a heck of a player, was the won that scored it.

WK: The Beat have just played their first two games. Do you think that the coaches and the team are really talking these games as learning experiences to use when playing against these teams in the future?

SM: Yeah. Every game is a learning experience, and when you just come out of the shoot and you are playing four games on the road before you play your first home game, it’s difficult in some ways and it’s good in some other ways. It’s good that the ladies get to go on the road together and really connect, because they are together 24/7.

At the other time it is very difficult, because travel wears on you. So it’s tough to actually to go on the road over and over. I think that while we were really disappointed in how we played this last weekend, it wasn’t like we were going to go undefeated. No team is going to go undefeated. You just take what you can from each game and what didn’t work in the previous game, and just try to improve.

 In this league it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. Look at Sky Blue last year. The team that was in last place the whole year ends up winning the league. They came together at the right time.

 I think Gareth [O’Sullivan] has got the team positioned. He’s got the right pieces. Now it’s just getting the ladies to really learn to play together and overcome a lot of challenges. It’s a long season, 24 games, and there is going to be a time where we have a really tough period. We’ll be at the bottom of the hill instead of the top, and it’s going to be challenging. You play through what you have to play through, and try to peak right at the end of the season when you go into playoffs.

WK: Do you think the players are really starting to adjust to each other’s playing styles now?

SM: We’ve got a lot of players who are playing in new positions. You have Stacy Bishop, who is normally a midfielder, playing in the back. Kia McNeill, who played in the back for the last couple of years, is still relatively new to the position. She played as a forward most of her career. You have Lauren Sesselmann, who’s’ playing left back and starting, who has been a forward.

So you have three of your four starting defenders, that haven’t been playing defense combined for more than six or seven years. Between three players that is very difficult. But, the reality is that they are adjusting well and playing well. You have Mami [Yamaguchi], Ramona and Johanna [Rasmussen] who know each other from playing together in the past, but at the same time is it’s very difficult. It takes some time.

Again, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. I think preseason did them a great service. Now the games mean something and they are a little more difficult and challenging, but I think the ladies are on pace and they’ll do fine.

WK: What are the players up to before their game against FC Gold Pride?

SM: The players flew in [to California] on Thursday and they had practice. They had practice again on Friday. It’s making sure they carb up and eat some good pasta and food to give them energy for the game.

They have a meeting to make sure they go over the specifics that the coach wants to talk about in relation to the match, how we’ll play against great players like Marta and how we’ll score some goals. They’ll have meetings, and then resting for Saturday’s match.

WK: Next week the Beat play against Philly again. Do you think because they played them before, they know a little more about their playing style?

SM: I think that Gareth did a great job. He knew the formation that Philly was going to play. He pretty much knew where every single player was going to play on that team. So, I think we were prepared for the last game.

I think having Monica [Ocampo] go out with an injury the day before, Johanna going out with an injury the day before and Ramona coming down with the flu the night before we fly out, you have three of your forwards out. That’s very difficult.

I think we played really well. I think were the better team on the field, and we should have scored. We should have had some chances. Allison [Whitworth] played a great game and made a couple of big saves. Defense played great.

I think we know them. I think the second time, third, fourth that you play a team, you know about the team and you know what their weaknesses are and what their strengths are. They know the same thing about you.

It still comes down to how you take advantage of your opportunities and have knowledge of what will work against that team in executing. It still comes down to will as well. Who wants to win and work harder?

WK: The home opener, which is airing on FSC, is only two weeks away. How is everyone at the office feeling about that?

SM: There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of stress. It’s very important that we sell this game out, and we are working very hard on making that happen. At the same time with the stadium being completed is something that’s a challenge.

It’s going to happen, but because we can’t really get in there having some time to prepare for everything from an operational perspective is going to be a scramble. It’s going to be a lot of long nights in the next couple of weeks. It’s going to be a lot of effort that we are going to have to put in, but we are going to do whatever we have to get the gates open and have a great crowd and provide the type of atmosphere and experience for people to come out and hopefully want to come out again.

WK: What have you enjoyed most about being general manager so far?

SM: I’ve learned a lot in my career and I’ve been in a lot of different positions. I’ve really enjoyed my career. I think this is the ability to take all the pieces, and all of the different things I’ve learned from my jobs in the past and my opportunities, to put together in one vision and one direction and drive the ship a little bit.

Certainly this is still Fitz’s vision and his team; I’m just the one who’s trying to work behind the scenes and make sure things are going according to plan. I love the daily battle. It’s kind of like you get up, put on your armor and go to war every day. That’s what it is, but it’s fun. I enjoy every minute of it.
 The Atlanta Beat’s next match is Saturday, May 1, against the Philadelphia Independence at Farrell Stadium at 6 p.m. The Beat home opener is the following week on May 9 in Kennesaw, GA at 7 p.m.

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