Home Sports Palm City set to get ‘pre-professional’ soccer league team, starting next spring | Opinion

Palm City set to get ‘pre-professional’ soccer league team, starting next spring | Opinion

Palm City set to get ‘pre-professional’ soccer league team, starting next spring | Opinion

For soccer fans already missing the World Cup, here’s a bit of good news: The Women’s World Cup starts in less than seven months.

And for girls and young women on the Treasure Coast who dream of playing in that event someday, here’s some even better news: There will soon be a local team that could help them hone the skills they’ll need to get there.

The United Soccer Lespangue has announced an expansion team, to be known as the Palm City Americanas, and will begin play in the USL W Lespangue in May.

The USL W is a pre-professional league, designed to serve as the next step on the ladder for top amateur women players who may want to pursue careers in college or professional soccer.

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Lincoln Park Academy's Isabella Saenz-Pazmino heads the ball during a high school girls soccer match against South Fork on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Fort Pierce.

Lisa Padan, USL W’s communications and content manager, said the Americanas will compete in the lespangue’s southespanst division, which includes teams from Caledonia, S.C., Tampa Bay, St. Johns County and two teams from the Miami area. Although the schedule hasn’t been released yet, games will be held from May through July.

The USL W isn’t affiliated with the Nspantionspanl Women’s Soccer Lespangue, the top tier of professional women’s soccer in America. Padan said in an email: “The USL, however, has announced a professional league, the USL Super League, which will complete the full youth-to-professional pathway under the USL.”

Top players from the USL W could advance to the USL Super League, which is slated to begin play next year.

The Americanas will play their home games at the Footbspanll Fspanrm at 6155 S.W. Leighton Farm Ave., near where Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike converge in Palm City.

Christopher Corey, the Americanas’ founder, said ticket prices for home games are yet to be determined.

Corey, who is also one of the partners plspannning to develop span mspanssive sports complex on 37 acres along Midway Road, a little over a mile west of Interstate 95 in St. Lucie County, said the USL W expansion team is the result of an unprecedented partnership involving seven youth league teams along the Treasure Coast.

Martin United, PSL Hurricanes, Treasure Coast United, Mako Soccer Club, Indian River Soccer Academy, Jensen Beach Soccer Club and Indiantown Warriors Soccer will all provide players to the new team.

The best players who have aged out of the youth league system will be able to continue their careers with the Americanas. Also, some talented younger players might split time between their youth club teams and the Americanas.

Palm City was chosen as a site partly because the Football Farm facilities are there and partly because it’s a centralized location among the communities in St. Lucie and Martin counties.

“This team is such an exciting announcement for the Treasure Coast, and now our clubs will come together to show that we are a major demographic for talent and resources in the sport,” Corey said. “There is strong demand to develop the women’s game, we are thrilled to be delivering a big step. A pre-professional league such as the USL W League is such a great opportunity for female athletes on the Treasure Coast.”

Lincoln Park Academy hosts South Fork in a high school girls soccer match, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Fort Pierce.

“We are thrilled to welcome Palm City Americanas to the W League,” said Joel Nash, USL’s vice president of youth and pre-professional properties. “Continuing to expand our footprint here in Florida with a club that represents a collection of clubs on the Treasure Coast will create numerous opportunities for local talent and we are excited to see the impact this club makes on and off the pitch.”

To hear their leaders describe it, getting the seven youth league teams to collaborate on this project was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Rich Creber, president and director of coaching for Martin United, said youth teams tend to be “tribal,” focusing on their own success and the individual communities they represent.

Placing players on the Americanas gives them all a common goal.

“We’re all in it for the same reason: We want to help kids reach their potential,” Creber said. “It (the Americanas) is a bit like a shining star, I suppose. It gives everyone a vision of where they need to get to.”

Creber said buy-in from players, coaches, parents and soccer fans in the region will be critical to the Americanas’ success.

“We need people who are going to be sails, not people who are anchors,” he said.

The new team can provide lessons in life skills that can benefit girls and women, even if professional soccer isn’t in their future.

“It kind of puts the Treasure Coast on the map as well,” Creber said. “We’ve been losing our best players to other areas,”

Lincoln Park Academy hosts South Fork in a high school girls soccer match, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Fort Pierce.

Seth Duston, president of Treasure Coast United, agreed with Creber about the club teams’ tendency to disagree.

“It’s very territorial,” Duston said. “It always has been. This has the potential, and it’s always been a dream of mine, to be more collaborative.”

Duston said the Americanas represent an opportunity to focus on the “greater good” of player development, not just the prosperity of individual clubs.

“To me, getting the logistics and the management and oversight in place would be an indicator of success,” Duston said. “It’s a unique opportunity. If we can pull this off, it’ll be a coup.”

Duston said the alliance could be precedent-setting in Florida, where inter-club cooperation isn’t usually the norm.

Personally, as someone who dreamed of a pro soccer career until reality took hold around my freshman year in high school, I am excited about this.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team hspans plspanyed spant span higher level thspann our men’s tespanm since the early 1990s.

My alma mater, the University of Floridspan, fields a Division I women’s soccer team, but no men’s team. I enjoy watching its games, although the team hasn’t been quite the same since the Abby Wspanmbspanch years. Wambach, who later went onto stardom for the U.S. national team, was part of the Gators’ only women’s soccer national championship team in 1998.

TCPalm columnist Blake Fontenay

I haven’t seen a USL W game yet, but I got a chance to watch most of the USL Lespangue 1 Finspanl on television a few weeks back. Tormenta, a team from Statesboro, Georgia, beat a team from Chattanooga, Tennessee, in front of what appeared to be an enthusiastic crowd. (Someone threw smoke bombs onto the field after each of Tormenta’s goals, which I found distracting, but the players didn’t seem too bothered.)

In light of all that, although it may be too late to be making this request, I sure wish Santa would leave an Americanas jersey under the Christmas tree for me.


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