The Michigan State men’s soccer team played the newly-franchised Lansing Ignite professional team for the Capital Cupon April 16, marking the first time the teams have played head-to-head.
This matchup will be an annual exhibition game occurring every spring during the Spartans’ offseason.
“I think it will be a good matchup every year,” sophomore forward Farai Mutatu said. “It will give us something to be excited for for the spring. We lose some seniors, but having this game gives us something to be happy about.”
This is not the first MSU team to play a professional team in an exhibition game. The MSU baseball team plays the Lansing Lugnuts in the annual Crosstown Showdown every year. The Lugnuts have been the Class-A affiliate for the Toronto Blue Jays since 2005.
The Ignite’s inaugural home opener was April 13 and the team is 1-1-0 in their first season in the USL League One. The stands at Cooley Law Stadium were nearly packed to watch the new local team.
The Spartans — who finished 14-5-4 overall last season and went to their first Final Four since 1968 — were no match and lost to the Ignite 4-0. The Ignite took home the Capital Cup in front of 3,338 fans showing the Spartans what the Ignite are capable of.
“Their attack was really good,” redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Morse said. “When they attack, they had numbers forward in front of the ball, so they got space. That’s what I would like to see out of my team. More attack.”
Each of the Ignite’s four goal scorers came from aboard. Forwards Pato Botello Faz is from Mexico, Steeve Saint-Duc is from Haiti, Alex Bruce is from England and Elma N’for is from Cameroon.
Despite the loss to a professional opponent, MSU coach Damon Rensing thought the Spartans put up a good fight.
“I thought (Patrick) Nielsen, Giuseppe (Barone), (Michael) Pimlott, Michael Miller … Hunter Morse … I thought those guys played very well,” Rensing said. “Giuseppe was as good as just about anyone out there. Nielsen wasn’t too far off. … I thought that stuff was important.”
Rensing also said he thought the Tuesday night game went for both teams.
“I thought the environment was good for the first night, the soccer weather gods were with us,” Rensing said. “I thought both teams showed some good stuff. All in all, I think it was a good inaugural Capital Cup and good for soccer here.”
This was the first time that the MSU soccer team has played a professional opponent. Rensing and the team weren’t worried about getting the win, but rather thinking about sticking to fundamentals.
“Our spring schedule is a little bit different,” Rensing said. “You don’t train quite as much as you do in the fall, we didn’t scout Lansing and do video on them. We were a little more focused on us.”
Lansing Ignite will play Toronto FC II at home on April 26, while the Spartans will play Detroit City FC at PAL Complex at 5 p.m. on April 20. According to a release from the athletic department, the game is already sold out.