Saturday brings professional soccer to Mesa
Springtime in Arizona… The snowbirds are in full force combined with baseball fans from across the country who’ve flocked to Arizona to soak up some sunshine and catch glimpses of their favorite players. However, this year our beloved little Mesa has a bit more to offer than just the Cubs and the A’s. On Saturday, March 4 FC Arizona will play their first home game against Real San Jose. What’s that you say? A professional soccer team, right here in my backyard?
You bet! In case you missed it (which doesn’t seem likely, if you’re a local soccer fan), FC Arizona is the latest addition to the National Premier Soccer League. They’ve packed their roster full of standout local stars and filled a 16 game regular season schedule against the best in the Southwest, 8 of which will be played at John D. Riggs Stadium on the campus of Mesa Community College.
I had the chance to catch up with team owner and local soccer champion Scott Taylor, to get his thoughts on the team and the upcoming season and let me tell you – it’s going to be a good one! Don’t know much about the National Premier Soccer League? Here’s what Taylor had to say, “The NPSL is a good league. Excited to be a part of it. The best teams in this league can compete with any USL or NASL team in the Country, the level is much higher than some people realize. Over 40% of MLS players have played in this league at one time or another. The FC Arizona players are excited to play, the local guys have been longing for something like this.”
In addition to some of the Valley’s best soccer players, Taylor brought in Aidan Davison to coach the team. English-born Davison played professional soccer for almost 20 years before switching over to the coaching side of things. Most recently, he served as the head coach of FC Jax, a former professional team in Jacksonville, Florida. About Davison, Taylor says, “Aidan is a great leader. I learn a lot from him.”
Taylor credits the youth soccer system in the Valley for growing the local soccer culture and raising players who are now able to compete professionally. Filling seats, especially during Spring Training, won’t be easy but Taylor expects between 1,500-3,000 total fans in attendance, which is a huge step forward for Valley soccer! Season tickets can be purchased at an incredibly affordable price point, just $100 for ten home games (including regular season and extra games)!
So, once you’re done soaking up the sunny Saturday at the pool, or even the ballpark (we won’t judge…), consider checking out FC Arizona’s opening match! As we continue to rally for Arizona to earn a spot on the nation’s highest professional soccer stage, this is a huge step in the right direction. If I haven’t sold you yet, listen to these words from Taylor, ”I don’t think (the people of the East Valley) realize yet, how much fun it will be to see high level soccer…live. Once they come to a real life game, they will be hooked!… This club really is grassroots though and will be built the right way. I’m thankful for the fans and players. It’s their club.”