By Scott Adamson
Greenville FC’s debut in the National Premier Soccer League didn’t have a storybook start, but a huge chapter in the team’s history is set to be written on Saturday.
Lee Squires’ club plays its home opener this weekend at Furman’s Eugene Stone Stadium, and a sizable crowd – led by the Mill Town Operatives – is expected as the favorite sons tangle with Inter Nashville FC at 7 p.m.
“I’m very eager to see the atmosphere on Saturday,” Greenville FC president Marco Carrizales said. “I can sense a genuine connection and push from the community, and so can the boys. The responsibility of making the city proud is something the players are taking into account with each training session.”
While Nashville will be playing its 2018 NPSL opener, it enters the contest with plenty of momentum following a 6-1 thrashing of the Premier Development League’s Charlotte Eagles on Wednesday in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Striker Chuka Aruh had a hat trick in the first half, including two goals that came a minute apart, while Ivan Sakou recorded a brace and Richard Reichenberger scored Inter’s other goal.
Nashville, in just its second season in the league, can now add another match to the schedule as it faces the United Soccer League’s Nashville SC in the second round of the Cup next Wednesday.
The Music City-based footballers finished 6-2-4 in 2017 and made the NPSL playoffs.
Greenville (0-1) is coming off a 3-1 road loss to Georgia Revolution FC last Friday, a match that saw the visitors fall behind the Revs by two goals in the first six minutes before settling down.
Michelangelo Dovidio scored GVFC’s first-ever goal with a header in the 71st minute.
“Yes, it was a tough start,” Squires said. “After only three training sessions together we came out flat, made a couple of mistakes and gave up early goals, which you cannot do on the road. We made a slight adjustment tactically at halftime, but most of it was adjusting the mentality.”
The Revs led 3-0 at intermission, but Greenville refused to roll over despite the big deficit.
“We became more aggressive and suddenly had more control in the game,” Squires said. “We got one goal back and could have had a couple more, but their keeper made two great saves. It was an encouraging second half that gives us belief we are good enough to compete in this league.
“We could have folded and lost by six or seven but we didn’t, so I was pleased with the response.”
Squires said after reviewing the match there were several notable performances.
“I’d say (midfielder) Danny Kierath was probably our most effective player on the night,” Squires said. “(Clemson midfielder) Quinn McNeill and (forward) Malcolm Frago had solid nights and (defender) Toby Sims made a difference at the back in the second half, having entered the game at halftime.”
One thing GVFC will have in its second match that it didn’t have in its first is a decided home field advantage. Season and single game ticket sales have been brisk and with clear skies forecast (and temperatures in the 90s), the local 11 will receive a warm welcome.
“The atmosphere should be very high energy,” Carrizales said. “With Eugene Stone being such an intimate stadium, and all signs pointing to a high attendance, the atmosphere should be dreamlike for the squad and a very difficult venue to play at for any opposition.”
Squires says the supporters will be key.
“It’s massive,” he said. “We are expecting a great turnout and support from the community on Saturday, and in particular the Operatives. I hope everyone is a fine voice and ready to be that 12th man to help us get the win.”
The head coach was asked what he expected from his club “result aside” in Game 2, and made it clear moral victories mean nothing.
“There is no result aside,” he stressed. “We need three points. However, we need to start the game better and on the front foot, to give us a better chance of getting a result.”
For ticket information, go to www.gvlfc.com.