South Georgia Tormenta FC has one final game to play in its inaugural season as a professional franchise.
There have been plenty of monumental moments over the course of a thrilling spring and summer, but wins have been tough to come by over the last couple of months and Tormenta was eliminated from postseason contention over the weekend as it now goes through the motions of closing out 2019.
“There’s definitely disappointment, but that’s with the outcome and not with our guys,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “We came out fast and playing well to begin the season and even got into first place. The effort and culture didn’t change, but some circumstances did and it was something we’ve been battling.”
Those circumstances - to put it bluntly - were injuries to just about every crucial position in the lineup.
Co-captain center back Lars Eckenrode never made it back into action following a concussion sustained in the first month of play. Midfielder Nil Vinyals went down with an injury and - in an unsettling sight - fellow midfielder Lucas Coutinho was lost for the season with a serious head injury.
Miglarese acknowledged that dealing with and adapting to injuries is something that comes with the grind of a full professional season, but also noted the ways in which his team tried to respond.
“We began in a 3-4-1-2 that was dynamic and mobile,” Miglarese said. “We didn’t lose a game with that in the preseason. But then we lost some guys in the back that forced us out of that.
“So then we went to a 4-2-3-1 that we had success with here the last two seasons. That required a lot of good play from our midfielders and then injuries and suspensions caused us to be without all of them the rest of the way. We had to go to Plan C, which just never materialized.”
Tormenta raced out to a hot start and briefly sat at the top of the USL League One table before the injury bug really started to bite down.
Tormenta’s first pro season will come to an end this week with no trip to the playoffs upcoming. For a club that has never been shy about striving for and expecting championships, that’s a letdown.
But it will also serve as a bridge to 2020.
“The energy and effort was always good and we maybe had one bad week all season,” Miglarese said. “A lot of our guys who got hurt were the ones who had years of pro experience and it meant a lot of newer guys were left to grind through it.
“That hurt us, but I think it might help moving forward. Those guys learned to love the work of being a pro and stopped caring about the prestige. That’s a step our guys have to take in a league where the margins for winning are so small.”