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Pro Soccer Returning to St. Louis in 2015

Categories: Sports

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Danny Wicentowski
The execs behind St. Louis' new pro soccer team (from left to right): USL Pro VP Jake Edwards, Jim Kavanaugh and Tom Strunk of SLSG, USL Pro president Tim Holt
St. Louis has long carried the odd distinction of being a "Soccer Town" without a professional soccer team.

That changed yesterday when the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club triumphantly announced it had been granted an expansion team by the United Soccer League. The city's USL Pro debut is set for the 2015 season, and though the team doesn't yet have a name, mascot, jersey or logo, the news elated St. Louis' long-suffering futbol faithful.

"We are fortunate indeed to again be part of the national landscape," says soccer broadcaster Bill McDermott, who delivered the opening remarks at yesterday's press conference. "We owe it to our predecessors to keep St. Louis soccer significant."

See also: St. Louis Flares Up Over Bosnia Soccer Celebrations at Busch Stadium

The team will play its home games in the 5,000-seat main field of St. Louis Soccer Park in Fenton. Headed by SLSG youth program director Dale Schilly, the team's staff is just starting work on recruitment and scouting.

It's a bit of a deja vu moment for coach Schilly; he previously coached the sole disappointing season of St. Louis' last attempt at a professional soccer team in 2010.

But if the massive local turnout to exhibition matches at Busch Stadium and Edward Jones Dome last year are any indication, the city is ready to renew and revitalize its deep historical ties to the sport.

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Danny Wicentowski
Dale Schilly, the team's head coach.
"There was a craze going on," says Schilly, recalling the heyday of St. Louis' amateur indoor soccer scene in the 1970s. "People couldn't wait to get to the games, and to recreate that again in the outdoor arena? That would be amazing."

Positioned as the third tier of U.S. professional soccer, the USL Pro league bears resemblance to triple-A baseball in that it acts as a recruiting pool for MLS. Indeed, the two leagues are increasingly intertwined as other MLS teams foster their own affiliated USL Pro clubs.

Currently, USL Pro has fourteen teams, and by 2015 St. Louis will enter the league along with two other expansion clubs in Colorado and Tulsa.

"This is a great first step," says Mitch Morice, co-founder of the St. Louiligans, the impassioned soccer fan club whose distinctive green-and-white is a common sight at St. Louis area soccer matches.

"It's important for St. Louis to prove ourselves at a lower level instead of just jumping to MLS," Morice continues. "It'll be an opportunity for fans to show they're ready for soccer."

See also: The St. Louligans Won't Stop Until St. Louis Has an MLS Team

Though SLSG ultimately sealed the deal, they weren't the only party pushing for a USL Pro team in St. Louis. In February, Daily RFT reported that Tony Glavin, owner and coach of the St. Louis Lions, and Andrew Haines, owner of the St. Louis Ambush, were also in talks to bring just such a team for the 2015 season.

"St. Louis is such an important market in American soccer. It has been and it still is," says USL Pro president Tim Holt. "Soccer may have been in some state of hibernation here for the past coupe of decades. That's going to change."

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Danny Wicentowski
Next year, Soccer Park's 5,000 seats will be gloriously filled with rabid soccer fans cheering on their city's team. We can't wait.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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49 comments
BigBalls
BigBalls

Certainly a reason for metro area twinks to rejoice.  As for real sports fans, well, all this does is elicit yawns.  Call me when the MLS is coming to town.  Anything short of that is a joke ans will fail.  And by the way, that failure will be cited as the reason the MLS won't come here.  But it won't be the actual reason.  In reality, the MLS wants two things: A (legitimate) soccer specific stadium and a deep pocketed owner, one who will absorb any losses and is committed to maintaining a team no matter the financial climate.  St. Louis doesn't have either piece so we continue to get passed over.  If those circumstances change, the MLS will come here, regardless of how many times low level "pro" soccer fails here. 

mconwell1
mconwell1

MLS is US Soccer's Division 1 league

NASL is US Soccer's Division 2 league

USL is US Soccer's Division 3 league


So the level of talent is not the same.  As far as I know USL has no television contract as opposed to the MLS.


Our closest cities have MLS teams such as Kansas City and Chicago.  Each has their own stadium (Sporting KC's stadium holds 18,000 for example)


Current USL teams are: 

Arizona United SC (Peoria AZ)

Charleston Batter (Charleston SC)

Dayton Dutch Lions (West Carrollton OH)

Harrisburg City Islanders (Harrisburg PA)

LA Galaxy II (Carson CA)

Oklahoma City Energy (Oklahoma City OK)

Orange County Blues (Irvine CA)

Pittsburgh Riverhounds (Pittsburgh PA)

Richmond Kickers (Richmond VA)

Rochester Rhinos (Rochester NY)

Sacramento Republic (Sacramento CA)

Wilmington Hammerheads (Willmington NC)

David Biernbaum
David Biernbaum

How does this league compare to MSL? Is it on the same level? Does it get as much national attention? What other cities are in this league?

John H Bergstrom
John H Bergstrom

a soccer team would be great here, and I'm sure they would win more than the RAMS, LOL

alectchambers
alectchambers

Really awesome news. I hope that they build up a good base and make some noise in the US Open Cup quickly!

alectchambers
alectchambers

Awesome news. Really hope they create a good base and make some noise in the US Open Cup.

Ryan Mackley
Ryan Mackley

Maybe if they advertise it a little more and get the news to cover it in their sports sections it may actually take off. However, most of the teams we've had over the past 10 years or so were not really talked about at all. Thus, no one came and the teams failed.

John Sitek
John Sitek

STL sports could use a few more hooligans.

Guy Elias Sargent IV
Guy Elias Sargent IV

Jesse, is this relevant to your interests? Or do you only care about UEFA?

Brian Pavlik
Brian Pavlik

Fenton ! ... So thier home uniforms will be white n sleeveless ?

Jill Pavlik
Jill Pavlik

This must be outdoor because we do have an indoor league unless that's a minor league?

Jason Steinkamp
Jason Steinkamp

Jackman should be their goalie. I hear he is stellar at deflecting balls around tight openings.

al_fannell
al_fannell

It may not be Major League Soccer but it's Pro Outdoor Soccer and that's important.

Scott Neale
Scott Neale

Is it just me or does it look like the guy 2nd from the left is holding up a pair of underpants?

Andy Velpel
Andy Velpel

Jason Steinkamp how long before some newsroom jag bag says STL has the greatest fans in all of soccer?

Kelsey McClure
Kelsey McClure

You just called it a sport. I'm confused. How do sports work again?

Rob Gruenenfelder
Rob Gruenenfelder

I just moved back from KC and have spent the last 3 years watching Sporting KC in the MSL. They get > 20,000 fans singing and chanting. I hope STL will get a team this could be step one

Tommie Morgan
Tommie Morgan

So excited about soccer coming back to St Louis. It's about time.

Eileen Eckhard
Eileen Eckhard

I hope this one works out. None of the others have...

David Biernbaum
David Biernbaum

MLS is the real league that people actually follow. That's what St. Louis needs; not a team in an alternative league that gets little or no coverage.

Kevin Prange
Kevin Prange

St. Louiligans would be a great team name.

Aaron Levi
Aaron Levi

Atlanta's USL team just became their MLS team, so this is definitely a good start.

Rosanne Falbo
Rosanne Falbo

So much fun watching them play in the Arena back in the '80's.

Rosanne Falbo
Rosanne Falbo

Is it just me or does it look like the gentleman in the gold tie is holding up underwear?

Brian Pavlik
Brian Pavlik

They should be named Spirit or Spirit Of STL .... but I'd be ok w/ Steamers ...just have the name make a connection with our city and it's past .

Andrew Cardwell
Andrew Cardwell

We need MLS...and they need to be called the St. Louis Steamers. This isnt gonna work...

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