Chicago Soul owner David Mokry admits he's keeping his ambitions a little bit in check for now.
With his Major Indoor Soccer League expansion club nearing a playoff berth, he said, "The guys are thinking bigger picture. I'm thinking just let's make it."
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Mokry's caution is understandable, considering the Soul started the season 2-8.
"It started out as any expansion team would," said goalkeeper Jeff Richey, a veteran of the defunct Chicago Storm and Chicago Riot, "a little rough around the edges."
But a coaching change and home-field advantage at the Sears Centre -- the Soul played its first seven games on the road -- have helped the team turns things around. Since then the team is 7-1 against teams not from Milwaukee and is closing in on one of the four MISL playoff berths in the seven-team league.
"We're playing as good as anybody but Milwaukee," Mokry said.
"We're playing them good," Richey said about the Soul's nemesis to the north, "we just haven't been able to put four quarters together against them. They've been together for several years. They're a well-oiled machine. We're getting there, but we've had problems with Milwaukee."
The Soul (9-12) has five games left in the regular season, four of them at home, one of them against Milwaukee (16-2), starting with Friday night's Sears Centre matchup with Rochester (7-14).
Carlos Farias has been the Soul's offensive leader this season, totaling 57 points and winning the league's player of the month award for January for new coach Novi Marojevic. Richey has racked up 361 saves and even picked up a shutout this season, which is rare for indoor soccer.
"We're starting to jell down the stretch," Richey said of his club, which is now 9-12 overall. "If we can stay close together and play for each other, we should be all right."