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Non League America Vol. 2: Build & Rebuild

Non League America Vol. 2: Build & Rebuild

The Southeast is a weird intersection of soccer culture.  Barren of any MLS team between 2001 and this year, the Southeast has had hit-and-miss success with lower division teams – for every Chattanooga FC, there is a Rocket City United.  The distance between teams in the South has not made things any easier. In fact, the drastic space between clubs actually made the New Orleans Jesters leave PDL in 2012 for the NPSL, who at the time offered them teams much closer to them.  However, since that move, the Mississippi Storm (Ocean Springs, MS), Rocket City United (Huntsville, AL), Panama City Beach Pirates, and Pensacola City FC have all folded.

Despite these teams departing, New Orleans has actually experienced something of a rebirth.  With the founding of its supporters’ group, the Royal Court, in 2013, New Orleans suddenly has a crowd of rambunctious and eclectic personalities that match the reputation of the city coming out to cheer on their boys in purple and green.  They are building something that could soon come to the forefront of NPSL supporters’ culture.

Meanwhile, the remnants of Pensacola City FC’s supporters’ group, the Gulf Coast Armada, is beginning their trek around the Southeast to various teams this summer in hopes of attracting a new owner to Pensacola, FL or Mobile, AL.

The Jesters are building their reputation.  The Armada is trying to rebuild theirs. In a game that places an “old” club in the Jesters against a young supporter-funded club in Nashville FC, is the centerpiece for a look at how Southern hospitality and a kinship between the Armada and the Royal Court is helping to define southern soccer supporter culture.

Non League America Vol. 1: SF City FC US Open Cup

Non League America Vol. 1: SF City FC US Open Cup

The Non League America team was out in San Francisco last week for the historic preliminary round match between supporter owned San Francisco City FC representing US Club Soccer and the re-assembled Wynalda led Open Cup legends Cal FC representing USASA Region IV.  The match posted a record preliminary round attendance of 1519.  We caught up with some of the supporter owners and the head coach, and were treated to a truly exceptional halftime honorarium for all the past San Francisco US Open Cup championship teams, many from the “long lost dark ages” (Pre 1996 MLS entry) when local ethnic based USASA affiliated clubs offered the highest level of competitive football in the United States.  We love to see this kind of reverence for history, and hope to uncover additional historical connections as we investigate the lower division landscape.   Thanks to Evan Ream for the great work.  Check him out on twitter @EvanReam.

Beneath White Sands: The Fall of Pensacola City

Beneath White Sands: The Fall of Pensacola City
The National Premier Soccer League is really a league of haves and have nots. For every Detroit City FC, who finds a strong foothold and support early on, there are a several that never make it past year one.  In fact it can be difficult to keep teams afloat, let alone profitable. Sure Nashville, Tulsa, and Chattanooga do well, but not every team strikes proverbial gold. It is not rare to find teams folding either mid-year or at the end of the season.

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Steve Bayley & Chris Reid