Semipro soccer team finds new home in Stanly
Soccer fans in Stanly will soon have a new semi-professional team for which to play and cheer on this spring.
The Broncos United Football Club have signed a deal with the city of Albemarle to play games at the Albemarle High School football stadium while training in Locust.
Competing in the United Premier Soccer League, the Broncos have announced tryouts for 4 p.m Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 at the Locust City Park Athletic Complex. Per the team’s Twitter account, tryouts are for players between ages 17 and 28.
The USPL is a semipro league consisting of more than 300 teams across the country. Teams compete in levels determined by age and gender.
In the case of the Broncos, the team competed last season in the Southeastern Conference of the Mid-Atlantic South Division versus teams from Union County and Sanford in North Carolina to teams as far away as Georgia and Virginia.
Leagues run year-round in the USSL so the Broncos are planning on playing schedules in both the spring and fall of this year.
The team will be coached by Veracruz, Mexico native Julian Pacheco, who has coached in the USSL for 10 years including time at the Charlotte Soccer Academy. Last fall, Pacheco was an assistant coach for the NCAA Div. II Catawba College Indians working with the team’s goaltenders.
Pacheco and assistant coach Scott Wagner have coached the Broncos since January 2018 when the two began the program in Cabarrus County. The team played at fields around the county, including Rocky River High School, but did not have a permanent practice facility or home field for competitions.
Wagner said the team has come to Stanly “looking for a community that would buy into what we were offering and support us.”
He brings 25 years of soccer coaching experience to the field, including 17 at the high school level. He has coached the past three seasons at First Assembly in Concord but previously coached at Northwest Cabarrus. Wagner has experience at the club level of coaching, saying his strength was building teams.
“For one reason or another, I have had successful teams (at the club level), some of the top teams in the state. That is my expertise, which is one of the reasons I am involved (with the Broncos),” Wagner said.
Players who work with the Broncos, Wagner explained, would potentially have the opportunity to work with high-level players so they can develop.
Two of the team’s players, Pacheco’s son and goalie Julian along with striker Luis Rincon, were scheduled this month to play professionally in Honduras with a team also called the Broncos. The owner of the Broncos’ team in Honduras, now living in Salisbury, also owns the new Stanly team as well.
James Galvani, one of the team’s captains, is a London, England native who played four years at Lees-McRae College, graduating in 2014. He also played for the Wickham Wanderers in England and the Toronto Lynx of the Premier Development League.
Galvani said other teams in the Broncos’ league saw he and his teammates go up against smaller communities where the fans were “super excited” about the games. He noted the SanLee squad, which plays in Sanford, as an example of a team supported well by the community. The SanLee squad drew between 600 and 700 fans for the games.
He said teams like SanLee and the Broncos provide inexpensive sports entertainment for families beyond high school athletes to root for local athletes as well as players from the region and beyond.
“Mum, Dad and the kids can go watch a soccer game for a relatively low price. Soccer is a growing sport,” Galvani said.
Referring to the players, Galvani said “Essentially, we are just regular guys. Your 11-, 12-, 13-year-old who love soccer can watch a game with 600 fans in the stands.”
The Broncos are looking to start a youth soccer academy to develop players to one day play for the local team.
Pacheco said he hopes to get soccer players attending schools like Stanly Community College who do not have athletic teams to come play for the Broncos, as well as students at Stanly Early College and others who do not have a team.
Should the team get enough players out (the Broncos need a minimum of 17 for the season), the coaches said plans exist to field a “B” team as well, akin to a high school junior varsity squad.
The move to call Stanly home is already a win for the players, Galvani said.
“We are getting to play organized soccer in a legitimate league. You score a great goal and it’s all over Twitter; it’s a noticed league,” Galvani said. “Now, what can we do to give back? My standpoint is different from the other players; they may be in their prime where I’m coming to my end…soccer brought me here, gave me a life, an education with no student loans. Not everyone can say that.”
“It’s a win to have a home training facility for us,” he added, but should the team even start with 50 fans attending, it would be a start form there so the Broncos “can build the love of the sport in families.”
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