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Cedergren and Co. getting comfortable in limited time

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Johan Cedergren and senior Cameron Wilder talk about the upcoming season at Fall Sports Media Day. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Johan Cedergren and senior Cameron Wilder talk about the upcoming season at Fall Sports Media Day. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Johan Cedergren may call one of his players by the wrong name. He may have invented a new dialect of English that his players are slowly catching on to. But in less than eight months, Cedergren and his players have started to bond, and a new voice, despite a new language, has been well received by his new team.

"It's a new term in the soccer office, it's called Swenglish," said Cedergren at Fall Sports Media Day last week. "My players are getting pretty darn comfortable with it."

Comfort is an important word when it comes to being a first-time head coach at Kentucky. Both he and his players seem to have already gotten into a groove.

"I have been here for six months or so, and I have had time to work with the returners and I feel I have a good feel for them," said Cedergren. "I think we have a pretty good feel for the 12 coming back, but for the 13 coming in we have only worked with them for about a week."

Cedergren was given a difficult task of having to revamp his roster, bringing in 13 new players with limited time to do so. In each one of those new players, he was looking for them to fit the right criteria for what he was looking for in a Kentucky soccer player. What they do off the pitch is equally as important as what happens on it.

While recruiting, Cedergren prefers to be as honest and straight up with each recruit, letting them know how important it is to represent Kentucky the right way. He has made it a point to be more demanding in terms of school and non-soccer-related behavior, and in turn, has become more demanding of what his players can bring to the team with an eye on all-around excellence.

Cameron Wilder, a returning senior midfielder, has not experienced Cedergren's recruiting pitch, but he's received the message loud and clear. With what he has seen and heard so far from his new head coach of the expectations of the soccer program, he has already bought in.  Despite starting a new chapter for men's soccer at Kentucky, with new faces on the staff and on his own team, Wilder believes the team has had no problem getting comfortable thanks to Cedergren's open-door policy.

"It's good," said Wilder. "It is a good line because it's comfortable to go talk to coach if we need to but we know he makes the ultimate decision and we are all aware of that."

Cedergren has made sure since day one to let his players know he is at Kentucky for their best interests. His availability is another thing that Wilder and his teammates have been pleased with. It has helped both sides, the players and the staff, to build trust and open a channel of communication with one another.

"It's no hesitation or issue if we have a question to call coach and he will tell us straight up if there is anything he can do, and the whole staff is like that," said Wilder.

The comfort level is something that Cedergren will need to rely on as the season approaches. A new voice and approach can be difficult to adjust to, especially for the returning group and upperclassmen who had done things for so long a certain way. As expectations change and philosophies are put into place, comfort and trust will play important parts in the overall success of this transitional season.

Kentucky unofficially opened up the Johan Cedergren era over the weekend in an exhibition with Northern Kentucky University. They came away with a 2-2 tie against the newly appointed Division I Norse. Things may not have gone necessarily to plan for the Wildcats, but there were certainly positives to take out of the first match of the year.

"Nobody expected us to be perfect tonight," said Cedergren after the game.

It was a good litmus test to see just where his team stood, where they excelled, and what areas still needed improvement. But now, the exhibitions are over and attention turns to this Sunday when they travel to Dayton for game one of the 2012 season. Everything he and his team have worked on his in his short time at the helm will be put to the test.

It seems like only a few weeks ago that Cedergren started at Kentucky, but now, in only a few days, he will make his head coaching debut. While they may not be as comfortable as they want to be at the start of the season, he and his team are just excited to finally get going.

"We start against Dayton next Sunday," said Cedergren. "But for me and my staff we can't believe it is here. We were sitting here in May, planning practices for August and it's here and we are knee-deep into it. We are all healthy and looking good, and we have a very, very tough schedule but here now we don't have any negatives."

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