New professional soccer team joins the state
CT shoots! And scores!
Hartford kicks off the new year with a new soccer team set to play in the USL (the United Soccer League), the second division soccer league of the United States/Canada. Hartford Athletic is set to play their first game on March 9 in Atlanta against Atlanta United.
“This Hartford Athletic team did actually bring a lot of light on the crazy amount of soccer in the United States for me. I had never heard of the USL before, only the MLS. So to know there is more soccer all around me is really exciting,” said avid soccer fan and history teacher Aaron Maddux.
Just like Mr. Maddux, many people are unaware of the USL. The United Soccer League is the second division soccer league, still playing at the professional level. The season starts in the spring, ranging all the way to mid-fall.
The team is ready to make a statement in the USL, and has high goals set for the season.
“Our first and most important goal is to make a positive impact in our community. Making Hartford a place where people want to come and a place that is great for everyone to live, work, and play is at the forefront of everything we do. Secondly, our goal is to win the USL Cup,” said John Ponziani, Manager of Marketing and Communications for Hartford Athletic. Cup championship runs Nov. 14-18.
The team held open tryouts from Jan. 19-25. In addition, players have been recruited from colleges and even transferred from outside of the country, such as midfielder Tyler David, who transferred from the Finnish soccer team BK-46 to Hartford Athletic.
“My agent told me Hartford Athletic was interested in me, so I talked on the phone with coach Nielsen. Our conversation went very well, so I reached out to some player who had a history of playing with him. We talked on the phone one more time and I knew he was the coach I wanted to play for,” said David.
Coach Jimmy Nielsen played professional soccer for 19 years in Denmark, England, and in the MLS (Major League Soccer) helping Sporting Kansas City win the MLS Cup.
The team’s first home game is set for May 4, and will promise a great atmosphere for fans to sing, jump, dance, and enjoy some good soccer.