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Namazi Looking Ahead to 2024 After Disappointing Finish
“There’s no hiding the fact that we’re not good enough, and we have to improve in all facets of the game, starting with the quality of the players that we bring in next year."
For Hartford Athletic, 2023 could not end soon enough.
A 5-2 loss to FC Tulsa at home on Friday marked the end of what was the worst season in the club’s five-year history — they finished dead last in the USL Championship with a league-low 18 points and only four wins. Those numbers pale in comparison, however, to the league-high numbers Hartford posted: 74 goals conceded and 24 losses, a number that falls just two short of the all-time league record.
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“There’s no hiding the fact that we’re not good enough, and we have to improve in all facets of the game, starting with the quality of the players that we bring in next year,” Hartford head coach Omid Namazi said after Friday’s loss. “We’re hard at work already.”
According to Namazi — who seems to be in the plans for 2024, at least for now — part of the work includes three exhibition games, which have already been scheduled. He also mentioned the need to bring in better players, which comes as no surprised to anyone who watch this team in 2023.
“[Fans can expect] a much more athletic team, a team that can transition better both ways, a team that’s tougher, a team that defends a lot better collectively and individually, some of those things that’s hurt us all year long,” Namazi said.
In fact, it was reported by the Hartford Courant on Thursday that one of these players that Hartford are targeting for next season was rumored to be in attendance on Friday — 33-year-old Brazilian goalkeeper Renan Ribeiro. Although the goalkeeper has been without a competitive appearance since 2020 due to injury, he holds 128 professional appearances and 43 clean sheets under his belt, spanning clubs in his native Brazil, Portugal and most recently the Saudi Pro League. The 13-year professional also has nine appearances with Brazil’s U-20 team.
For a team with the worst defense in the league, a goalkeeper certainly seems like the right start. Under newly-named CEO Nick Sakiewicz, who holds a wealth of soccer experience across multiple decades, it will certainly be interesting to see how the club structures a very necessary rebuild heading into their sixth season.