The 2018 National Premier Soccer League season ended in August and won’t restart until May, 2019.
But anyone who follows the league knows it has stayed busy since Miami FC2 won the NPSL championship.
And anyone who follows Greenville Football Club CEO and President Marco Carrizales – well, they need to keep up.
Other than a brief break following GVLFC’s inaugural campaign, Carrizales has stayed in motion, working to build on the club’s foundation.
“It may seem like a long time, but the work never stopped,” Carrizales said. “We went on a brief vacation after the season ended but picked up right where we left off. I consider this my in-season and the actual season as my off-season, if that makes sense. This is when all the real work takes place. Finding new partners, acquiring new sponsorships, finding new ways that will position us better in the community as well as focus on things we can improve on.
“I’ve been busy and only expect that to increase as we inch closer and closer to season.”
Greenville finished 4-7-3 while competing in the Southeast Division of the South Region Conference last season, showing marked improvement as the campaign progressed.
Aside from showcasing quality amateur players (midfielder Jack Hoey was an all-region selection) the team also found the perfect fit in head coach Lee Squires.
Squires, whose primary job is head coach of the Lander University men’s soccer team, led the Bearcats to a 16-2-3 record in the fall and produced five all-region players.
“Lee reached out to me after another opportunity fell through,” Carrizales explained. “At the time we were talking to a couple different options, but Lee immediately stood out to me. His hunger to be better as a coach and his desire to perfect his craft were things that made me very comfortable. Player development and player happiness are essential for us to recruit high level talent, and Lee provides that for us.
“I can confidently say that Lee has full trust from us and I’d like for him to stay for as long as we can have him.”
GVLFC plays its home matches at Eugene Stone III Stadium on the campus of Furman University, and developed a strong following in its inaugural campaign.
The “prep and landing” was first-rate from the start, and Carrizales says one of the most gratifying aspects of year one was seeing the club grow from an idea to an actuality is such a short period of time.
“I think the biggest obstacle was pinpointing how we wanted to present this club to the community,” Carrizales said. “What do we want to be about, and how do we want to go about creating our image as a club? That was tough. You don’t get a second chance at launching a club so we really needed to be set on what we believed in and how we could build foundation we could further build upon. It’s a scary thing going into the ‘unknown,’ but we just had to embrace it and believe we were right.
“I think it panned out better than we ever could have imagined.”
Carrizales recently returned from the NPSL annual owners meeting in Minneapolis, and the big takeaway was the formation of a professional division sponsored by the league.
Starting with a Founders Cup competition in the fall, the new league will play a full schedule in 2020 with 11 charter members: ASC San Diego, Cal FC, California United Strikers FC, Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, FC Arizona, Miami FC, Miami United FC, Milwaukee Torrent, New York Cosmos, and Oakland Roots, with plenty of room for growth.
Otherwise, the NPSL will maintain amateur status with its other clubs spread across the country, including Greenville.
“We took a deep dive into (the owner meetings) and we learned a lot,” Carrizales said. “As far as Greenville FC is concerned, we are very happy where we currently are. The opportunity to remain sustainable is at an all-time high where we currently stand, and we are very comfortable with that. I will say, however, that our league is in a very good position and the executive staff as well as board of directors are the right individuals for the job. I left the (meetings) feeling very reassured in the direction and mission of the NPSL.
“I’m excited to see it grow.”
Of course GVLFC will have company in 2019 as Greenville Triumph SC joins the Upstate soccer scene.
The Triumph will play in League One of the United Soccer League and is part of the USL’s closed professional pyramid.
But the addition of a new franchise won’t change the mission of a second-year club that looks to deepen its roots next summer.
“I knew that if we presented this club in the right light and created something that wasn’t about the club but the community, then it would really take off,” Carrizales said. I think attendance numbers showed that we were right in our thinking. We get asked a lot about maintaining attendance, and I’ll say that we don’t look at it like that. We are only in competition with ourselves as marketers and club executives. We didn’t start this to mirror any other club or try to outdo any certain club. We set out to create something the community believes in and build the GVLFC community around that, day by day.”
As part of that commitment, Greenville FC and Copa Indoor Soccer are hosting a holiday camp on December 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Copa Indoor Soccer. Copa’s Anthony Esquivel and GVLFC staffers will offer instruction, but the event will also serve as a soccer cleat drive.
The GVLFC supporters group, the Mill Town Operatives, and Copa staff members will be on site accepting new and used soccer cleats during the camp hours.
The boots will be donated to those in need in the community.
“I can tell you that when making decisions as a club, we do that with our GVLFC community in mind and what we believe will outdo what we did yesterday or the day before,” Carrizales said. “I believe we’ve built something strong and something to stay.”