After an incredible inaugural season for Peoria City, the city’s United Soccer League 2 team, in which they made the playoffs and came in second in the Deep North Division table, the team will be back on the pitch this summer in a new division and with a new head coach.
“It’s exciting to be included in this role to help expand the club in its second year,” Peoria City head coach and Bradley soccer assistant coach Tim Regan said.
After former Peoria City head coach Ruben Resendes accepted an offer to coach at the Division I level at Bryant University, a replacement was needed and the search began.
The selection process was not straightforward and at one point it actually seemed that the head coach position would be going to someone else. It turns out the man to step up was right in the team’s own backyard.
“We had two different coaches lined up, but they received other job opportunities that eliminated their ability to [be in] this role with Peoria City,” Regan said. “As time went on, it became the logical choice for me to step in.”
Regan will take the reins for the second season of the USL2 squad now playing in the Heartland division. He will be assembling a completely different squad while also adding some of the local Peoria area talents that were on the team last season.
With Regan and his staff depending on their contacts list and Bradley soccer networks throughout the country to build the squad, the coaching staff couldn’t get a first-person view of the players.
“You don’t get to see many players in person, so you have to have a certain level of trust in the recommendations that you get,” Regan said. “We look at playing experience and then see where they would fit in the group and those two would be very important.”
While the Peoria City group is made up of college students, the process of getting players for a couple of months and turning them into a winning team is one of the most important factors for a successful season.
“You’re bringing in players from lots of different locations, different colleges and every individual player has a different motive for what their future holds after playing in the USL2,” Regan said. “It’s just taking these guys and getting them into a position where they can all perform to the best of their abilities.”
The environment of USL2 and the collegiate level is very different, however, Regan has experienced both sides of the coin at Bradley and during his time with USL Championship side Indy Eleven as an assistant coach.
“You don’t have unlimited substitutions so the game does calm down a little bit versus the competitiveness of college,” Regan said. “USL2 is more possession-based across all teams because that’s the environment.”
Some of his most important coaching lessons from back in the day with Indy Eleven and with the United States Soccer Federation didn’t involve the tactical side of the sport, but of the athletes themselves.
“Every player has a different pathway, so you have to appreciate the individual and make sure that when you’re bringing them into the team that you’re giving them the opportunity that fits them,” Regan said. “And being up front that not every opportunity is going to be good for the player.”
“Oftentimes, players don’t understand that and won’t understand it in the moment until they can look back and see that the environment may not have been perfect for them,” he added.
Back in 2020, when Peoria City was set to start their inaugural season, Regan was originally going to be the head coach for that first season.
“When the club formed in 2019, I was the original coach and then by the time we started in 2022, we had different options,” Regan said.
With their second season as a club set to start May 20th against St. Charles FC at Shea Stadium, Regan looks beyond this coming season into the future of Peoria City and soccer overall in Peoria.
“The goal is to continue to expand everything, to expand local enthusiasm in terms of supporters, sponsorship and community involvement,” Regan said. “I think when you have a supporters club like the 309, that creates an environment that is just different from other sports and provides a level of entertainment that is beyond just the 90 minutes on the field, it brings an environment that is just fun to attend and affordable for everyone.”