"When the game is done right, it truly is an amazing sight to see!"
Today's interview is brought to you by For the Love of Futbol. For the Love of Futbol is a blog dedicated to covering the lower level soccer scene in the Midwestern United States, and this site will give you a little bit of everything. Player profiles, team updates, interviews and more with teams like Grand Rapids FC and Detroit City FC. Check them out at ftlofutbol.com to read more and keep up with the exploding Midwestern soccer scene.
Good morning AP readers! Keeping the intro brief today, I'm slightly sick and have a ton of work to do. Scott Taylor took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with me about his new National Premier Soccer League club FC Arizona. He covers what they're doing to appeal to the community, why they joined the NPSL, and his future ambitions for the club. Check it out.
"You can love you Barcelona's and Manchester's, or your MLS team, but local is where you can be a part of it"
Today's interview is brought to you by For the Love of Futbol. For the Love of Futbol is a blog dedicated to covering the lower level soccer scene in the Midwestern United States, and this site will give you player profiles, team updates, interviews and more with teams like Grand Rapids FC and Detroit City FC. Check them out at ftlofutbol.com to read more and keep up with exploding Midwestern soccer scene.
Welcome back to American Pyramid everybody! Hopefully got some rest after staying up late last night to catch US Open Cup games. Sadly, the New York Cosmos couldn't quite get it done, but the Fort Lauderdale Strikers are through to the 'Elite 8,' a historic achievement for the NASL and for lower level soccer. If I remember correctly, there hasn't been a lower division team playing this late into the USOC since the mid-2000's.
Now, on to today's interview. I got to speak with Santiago Rodriguez Rey of Greater Lowell United a few weeks ago. This team has gone through a dramatic turnaround. In 2014, their first season in the National Premier Soccer League, they managed 4 points. In 2015, they managed 1 point. This year, through 12 games they have 19 points and are sitting in third place. Mr Rey explained the team's origins, some of the keys to the turn around, and drops a ton of global soccer knowledge on me. Seriously, it's pretty crazy stuff. Check it out.
"Hopefully there's a nugget or two in there that you can use."
"Hopefully there's a nugget or two in there that you can use."
Today's interview is brought to you by SoccerElf.com. SoccerElf.com is a brand new website dedicated to helping people all across the United States find the nearest pick up game. If you can't find one near you, guess what? You can create one. Right now, it's still the early stages, so AP has partnered with them to help get the word out, get more people on the site, and get more games going everywhere! The more chances to play, the more people will play. And the more people who play, the more the game grows.
Welcome to American Pyramid ladies and gentlemen readers! I'm going to let you get right into it today. This interview is part 1 of 2 with Jonathan Fonseca, President of National Premier Soccer League club Rhode Island Reds FC. Yes, the interview really is long enough to be split up. There's a lot here, including great stories about the rise and fall of soccer clubs, lessons for owners, and the power of soccer to help heal after a tragedy. Check it out.
Let's start simple. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with the Rhode Island Reds.
My name is Jonathan Fonseca and I'm from Cranston, Rhode Island a state in which I've lived my entire life. I am the President of the Rhode Island Reds where I've served in the roll for 3 years now.
What got you interested in working with a soccer team?
I've been a soccer fan my entire life and since I wasn't a fantastic player my goals quickly turned to coaching and getting involved with the backroom and running a club.
Which position did you play?
I was a central defender but I had a solid cross so the one day they put me as a full back I got slid tackled from behind and tore my Achilles. And that was the end of that chapter.
Oh man. All it really takes is one bad move and it's over. I got kicked in the back of the heel in a pickup game last spring and had a limp for three to four months after. As life long Rhode Islander, how would you say the soccer scene in Rhode Island has changed from when you were a kid to now, as an adult?
No kidding! Oh man, where do I begin with this one. When I was a kid there really wasn't anything but local town leagues and some club teams. Then came the Rhode Island Stingrays who played in the USL Pro and later the USL PDL. It was a fun family atmosphere to go watch these local guys play against other teams from around the country. And then the MLS really began to take off and a lot of these teams began to fall away.
Recently I'd say pretty much since 2012 the NPSL in particular has done an amazing job in reengaging these markets to showcase local talent.
It seems like the landscape has changed a lot in soccer from when I was a kid to now. Now it's not just a game for kids and their parents. You have a whole supporter culture beginning to rise up. It's truly amazing to see the level of support grow.
Is that level of support affecting the Reds? Like, do you guys have a supporters group and consistent attendance? It's way harder to find these things out then it should be sometimes.
It's been grown year to year. Will we ever be as big as a Detroit City FC? My guess is no. The reason behind that is we have 5 Major League sports teams in New England. Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and the Revolution.
As for a supporters group, we do not have one at the moment, but I'm hoping something will grow soon.
I think it will always be tough for any team in New England who's within a hour of a Major sports team to be able to compete. Just look at the history of teams in Boston.
That's a very good point, and one I don't think a lot of people consider when it comes to new teams in the northeast. It's already a heavily saturated market. Let's focus on the Reds for a bit. How did the Reds even come into being? I guess you could say, much like a comic book, what's the 'origin story?'
The Owner, Kabba Joof, who is from The Gambia has been living in Rhode Island for a while now and fell in love with the state. After the Rhode Island Stingrays dissolved in 2009 he noticed a void for soccer players over the age of 18. When he realized nobody was going to take over the spot as the main developmental club for players over 18 he seized the opportunity. That's pretty much how the Reds was born. Kabba wanted to help out these local kids make it to the next level whether that was making it to play pro or playing in the NPSL and giving back to the community, and in 2012 they fielded their first NPSL team. Two of those players are now playing pro soccer in the NASL. Pedro and Paulo Mendes.