On the sideline, with a brand new title, Ray Reid did what he does best: Win soccer games.
Hartford Athletic’s newly named interim coach led his squad to a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on Tuesday at Trinity Health Stadium.
“We’ve got a good group,” Reid said. “I’ve been watching practice since the middle of April and I’ve said to people this group is better than their record. They had low confidence. Tonight they got it.”
Reid was named interim coach on Saturday after former coach Harry Watling resigned and returned to England to tend to family matters. Reid joined the Athletic (4-4-9) on May 13 as technical director.
The sudden coaching change was quite a shock for the players.
“I give these guys a lot of credit,” Reid said. “They’ve been working hard and their focus was great. Really great effort from the boys and I couldn’t be happier for these kids.”
Reid is a Connecticut soccer royalty. He spent his first eight seasons coaching his alma mater, Southern Connecticut State University, from 1989-1996, leading them to three national championships in 1990, ‘92 and ‘95.
He replaced the legendary Joe Morrone at UConn in 1997 and led the Huskies to the Division I national championship in 2000, eight Big East regular-season titles and four conference tournament titles. In May 2021 Reid, 62, retired to take care of his elderly parents. At the time of his retirement, he had an overall career record of 394-197-61.
Reid doesn’t expect to be coaching the Athletic for very long.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in,” he said, quoting a line from a Godfather movie. “Harry resigned and we got a very young staff. We are going to have a big-time coach in two weeks. Bruce Mandell (owner) has made a major commitment and get the right to lead this team. Then, I can go back to help from the outside. Hopefully, we can stay positive a little bit and get momentum going.”
For a midfielder, Andre Lewis this game was an important one as it was against his former team and he delivered with the second goal.
“I wanted to win and the goal came when I took it,” he said. “I am a really happy man.”
From the start of the game, both teams were aggressive in pursuing the ball, leading to many fouls.
Despite eight shots by Hartford, only two were on target. At the half the game was a scoreless tie.
“I said at halftime, 45 minutes is good, but we have to play 90,” Reid said. “We have to gut it out and play with some toughness. Then they played well and they gutted it out.”
In the 74th minute, Hartford forward Ariel Martínez delivered a strike to the back of the net to put them up 1-0. Just four minutes later, in the 78th minute, Lewis scored off a pass by defender Ashkanov Apollon.