Phoenix adding pro soccer team

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by Jay Crandall

azfamily.com

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 16 at 5:21 PM

PHOENIX -- We already have basketball, baseball, football and hockey. Now, Phoenix is ready to add another pro sports team, and the first season starts in less than a year.

We've watched David Beckham blast them in, Cristiano Ronaldo deliver and Lionel Messi amaze us, but for Phoenix soccer fans, the real goal has long been a professional team of our own and now a group of Valley businessmen has announced they have scored a USL Pro franchise.

"We have been around for 26 years, we actually predate MLS by 10 years," said league president Tim Holt. "MLS does a great job with major league soccer in this country and we represent the level of soccer right below major league soccer. “

We caught up with Holt as he met with the new owners to help them get to work and he said they have a lot to do in a very short time.

“Season starts in April," Holt said. "If the team makes the finals it will run through mid-September.“

We are talking next April, about nine months away, but Holt said the new owners are already off and running and that includes already thinking about how to put together a squad.

“So I expect some local players from Phoenix, I expect players from the United States, but there will also be a healthy complement of international players,” he said.

In fact, Holt said helping local talent is a big part of having a hometown team.

“It is important for players coming up, and I think for any sport, to have something they can aspire to, something that is both inspirational and aspirational," Holt said.

"Part of being in the community is being in the soccer community, being good role models and not just from a distance, actively being in there doing clinics for the community, free camps,“ he continued.

And it is not just for players or die-hard soccer fans.

“There is going to be music, there is going to be concerts, before and after events," Holt said. "So they are really going to tie this in in a special way, so that people that are maybe still a little ambivalent about soccer will really have a great time on a night out at an affordable price.”

As for a name? Well, fans, here is your chance to score.

“I would expect a name the team contest where fans and other people are able to submit creative entries and kind of choose and see what the best one is,” Holt said.

Of course, to field a team you need a field, and Holt said they have narrowed it down to about four possibilities.

“I think you do want to be as central as you could possibly be," he said. "Obviously, location is everything in real estate and sports.“

But whatever stadium they ultimately choose, there is no question, for soccer fans this is already a win.

"To go watch professional soccer, live and in-person, and see those people and interact in our league, and be able to go onto the field and meet them, leaves an indelible mark," Holt said.

And 3TV will be following along as the team gets organized and ready to play.

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