March 2, 2024

FCK coach Thomas Hienghen: “We also see this as a team event” – Football

1. FC Kaiserslautern won their first friendly match of the training camp 2-1. FCK coach Thomas Hingen sees the trip to the United States primarily as a team-building measure

Partly under heavy rain, 1. FC Kaiserslautern won their first friendly match of training camp in Louisville, USA. At Louisville City FC, the Red Devils won 2-1 before halftime thanks to a brace from Terrence Boyd.

The trip was still fresh in the minds of the players. Two days after the start of training and one day after arriving in the United States, the Red Devils played in Louisville, Kentucky, against the local second division team from the USL Championship. FCK head coach Dirk Schuster's goal was to give as many players as possible playing time after the summer break. New players Jan Elvedi and Timotiusz Puszacz were still on the bench at half-time. Instead, U19 central defender Nikolaos Vakovtsis – one of three U19 players allowed to travel to the United States with the pros – was allowed into the starting lineup for the first time.

Strange goal from Terence Boyd

The hosts took the lead after 14 minutes, but Terrence Boyd made it 2-1 with a brace (27th and 41st minutes) before the end of the first half. Boyd scored to make it 1-1 lying down – a goal to watch.

Thomas Hengen in an interview with SWR

Shortly before the match, FCK Managing Director Thomas Hienghene took some time to answer some questions for SWR Sport via video conference. The FCK coach, like the entire team, was still discerning about the travel pressure. The long flight from Germany via Chicago to Louisville – the team has to deal with that first. Hengen sees the trip to the USA as a team event: “It is good for our children to take a trip like this. We can grow together,” Hengen says. “Of course it's a bit more tiring, but you also have a lot of opportunities, you get to learn about a lot of things, and the boys take to that wonderfully.”

The goal for players in the US is also to get fit again. “We have to get back to it,” says Thomas Hingen, analyzing the team's fitness level. “Many were on vacation, didn't see the ball at all and just ran around.” “We have to deal with that here, and the coaching staff does it well. The fine-tuning only starts at the beginning of the season. That's why we deliberately chose an early start so as not to be under time pressure.”

Maintain high euphoria in the league

There is still time until the season starts on the last weekend of July. Thomas Hengen is still having a hard time formulating a clear goal this season for FCK in League Two. “In this second league, every season is difficult. If you look at it, Hertha Berlin was relegated, Schalke went up, HSV didn't go up. Plus you have Bundesliga teams like Nuremberg, Hannover, St. Pauli and Düsseldorf.” The FCK's goal is to “swim freely” Back in the shark tank.” With the fans behind them, the Lauter residents want to keep it going and “keep the euphoria high.” According to Hengen, the Palatinate team's goal is to “make the home table a little better.”

1. Kaiserslautern now travels to the main part of the training camp in St. Paul, Minnesota. The four-time German champions will play another friendly there on June 29 against MLS side Minnesota United FC.