By Scott Adamson
The motto, “Yeah, That Greenville,” emphasizes the Upstate South Carolina city’s uniqueness, as well as its rise as one of the top tourist destinations in the south.
Marco Carrizales hopes there will come a day that when people hear that catchphrase, they’ll also think about soccer.
Carrizales is the CEO and president of Greenville FC, the city’s entry in the National Premier Soccer League. The expansion club will begin play this spring, competing in the Southeast Conference.
The NPSL is a grassroots league that functions as a fourth division in the United States soccer pyramid.
“For us, (joining the NPSL) made the most sense when looking at the viability and long-term sustainability of this club,” Carrizales said. “We are in no rush to become the next FC Cincinnati, but do understand we have that capability. We simply need time to grow into that. We plan to stick around for many years and hope to become engrained in Greenville’s fabric, but to jump to the conclusion that the road will be an easy one is a misunderstanding of the current nature of soccer in the United States.”
Sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, the NPSL features franchises that are individually owned and operated. Entry fees are reasonable and the NPSL’s goal is to grow the game by creating an “all-for-one” philosophy among its members.
They are rivals on the field, but partners in business.
“We are thrilled to see Greenville FC joining the NPSL family,” NPSL chairman Joe Barone said in November. “They are a wonderful addition to one of our country’s most competitive conferences. Soccer fans in South Carolina should be very excited about GVL FC.”
Carrizales says joining the circuit – which fielded 96 clubs nationwide last year – is the perfect fit for Greenville.
“We are at the ground level and are extremely comfortable exploring innovative and strong partnerships that will only enhance Greenville FC as well as soccer in the Upstate,” Carrizales said. “The NPSL offers something unique in its operating model, and also placed us into one of the strongest conferences in the league and country, with Asheville City SC and Chattanooga FC leading the pack. We are excited at the opportunity to grow our club with their already well-established clubs.”
Carrizales is no novice when it comes to the Beautiful Game. A native of Dallas, he was selected by Dallas FC in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and started his college career at SMU before transferring to Furman.
“Coming from Dallas, one of the biggest hotbeds in youth, collegiate and professional soccer, I had the luxury of being amongst some of the most professional clubs out there,” Carrizales explains. “I was fortunate enough to have been an integral part of the inaugural years of FC Dallas Development Academy system, which is ranked in the top five academies in the country on a yearly basis. Coming to the Upstate really opened my eyes to the potential here. I see local players all the time and am amazed at the level of talent that, unfortunately, doesn’t have access to the platforms I was accustomed to.”
Certainly, Greenville FC will look to find the best available players to compete for roster spots – regardless of where they’re from. However, Carrizales is confident the fledgling NPSL team can write homegrown success stories.
“Some of these players can be great, it’s just a matter of getting them proper and professional training that will get them to that next level,” he said. “I hope Greenville Football Club can provide them with that clear pathway to the next level and I hope we are that next step for some of that talent here in the Upstate. I plan to bring my expertise and connections to Greenville to place soccer at the forefront.”
Only 23, Carrizales admits the business side of the game wasn’t on his radar as he plied his trade as a midfielder.
“Growing up seriously committed to the sport as early as 7 years old, my Plan A was always to play soccer at the highest level,” Carrizales said. “I didn’t have the time nor effort to think of a Plan B. I was fortunate to have played at the highest youth, collegiate and professional level, while all along I think I was being molded by those experiences for this opportunity. Not to say it has been a seamless transition, but it definitely has been something I’m comfortable saying I feel like I’ve always been a part of.
“Being at the ground level is exciting for us because we have no traditions or any standard to uphold, so we have the flexibility to hopefully become that innovative club teams will look to emulate.”
Carrizales said the team will announce its coaching staff and venue in the coming weeks. The NPSL season begins in May.
“Through my time in Greenville, I have had the pleasure of growing a strong connection with local clubs and universities as well as local talent that I plan on bringing into the club,” he said. “I hope to have a little say in the choosing of our roster, but ultimately I think it’s important for our staff to be the decision makers in crafting our inaugural roster.”