Phoenix FC, a new member of the United Soccer League Professional Division (USL PRO), will play their games in Tempe in the Sun Devil Soccer Stadium beginning this spring.
The team is adding over 4,000 seats to the ASU Soccer Stadium to bring the overall capacity of the stadium to over 5,000 people in what ASU athletic director Steve Patterson called a “significant six figure investment.” The capability also exists to expand the stadium to anywhere from 8,000-10,000 people if necessary said Phoenix FC president Tim Thomas. The team plans to play 15 home games between September and April of this year on top of matches against MLS clubs and some international teams. Including an exhibition against MLS club Real Salt Lake and star Alvaro Saborio on June 15.
The team began their first pre-season training camp this past Monday at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. This year’s Phoenix FC squad has a particularly local flare. Per league rules, the team can only have five international players on their roster. Defender Brian Holmes is a 2008 graduate of Desert Vista, Jimmy Lara from Hamilton High School class of 2012, Thomas Ramos from Pinnacle High School class of 2010, Jose Ramos from Trevor Browne High School class of 2005, and Humberto Soriano from Fountain Hills High School class of 2009.
Phoenix FC also has two notable international signees. Darren Mackie played for Aberdeen FC in Scotland. Diego Faria is a Brazilian who has played on the Brazil under 18 and under 19 national teams. Two brothers even play together on the team. Elliot Weber is a defender while his brother Andrew is from Tempe and has played Major League Soccer (MLS) with the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes.
The fan support for Phoenix FC certainly exists in the Valley. When Mexico played Denmark on Jan. 30 to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly, the match drew a crowd of 43,345. In April 2012, a group called “La Furia Roja/The Red Fury 1881” was created in hopes of drawing a team such as Phoenix FC to the area. It is a group of supporters but is independent of the team itself. The group will have its own section for games in the stadium. 1881 refers to the year that the city of Phoenix was incorporated. Their goal, according to their official group website, is to grow and support the game of soccer in the Valley.
Patterson echoed this sentiment and is excited for the team. “It’s a great opportunity for us to grow the game of soccer, and to expose a lot of people to ASU the great facilities we have here and the great university we have here,” he said.
The team opens play in the Sun Devil Soccer Stadium March 30th at 7:30 p.m. against Tampa Bay.
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