The city of Greenville, South Carolina is building a successful soccer club from the ground up.
It is a crisp, spring morning in May of 2018. The fog has settled on the Reedy River. A lone stranger strolls across the Liberty Bridge in Falls Park. Just a few miles up the Swamp Rabbit Trail, at this very moment, the sprinklers kick on at Eugene Stone Stadium on the campus of Furman University. The field is being prepared to host the FIRST game of the FIRST season for Greenville FC later today. In just a few short hours, the landscape of soccer in the South, and the sports culture of Greenville, will change forever.
I know what you are thinking. No, I am not a time traveler from the year 2030. However, I do know that when Greenville FC kicks off its inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League this May that it will be very successful. No, I do not know what kind of results the team will put up, or whether or not it can make the playoffs in their first year, but success is measured in so many different ways, and by many metrics…
Greenville FC is already winning.
To further understand the reason behind the club’s success, we must look to the past. Just a little more than one year ago, at the Major League Soccer Superdraft in 2017, FC Dallas selected Marco Carrizales, midfielder from Furman, with the 18th pick in the fourth round (84th overall).
It was a dream come true for Marco. He was drafted to play for his hometown club, the club that helped develop him as a player through its academy system. But this dream quickly evaporated when he failed to receive a contract after training camp. Marco was at a crossroads and had to decide what his next step would be, and if that step involved soccer in any way.
So with the passion for the sport he had devoted his life to, and the entrepreneurial heart of a fresh college graduate, he approached his family with a dream. Marco had spent his final collegiate years playing soccer in Greenville, S.C. He had seen firsthand the passion for the sport in the upstate and knew that there was a hole in the sports landscape. So, he decided to do something about it — and Greenville FC was born.
After nearly a year of planning, preparing, dreaming, and information gathering, Greenville FC became the newest team in the NPSL’s Southeast Conference on Nov. 27, 2017.
After the announcement, locals began reaching out to Marco. People were excited. They wanted to get involved. They wanted to help make Greenville FC a success. Some even offered their playing services. And, to his credit, Marco has listened to those requests and found ways to connect folks to build a soccer community in Greenville.
And THAT is the reason I know that this team will be successful. They will be successful because they already are successful.
In a few short months since the team’s announcement, and still several months before their first game, the team already has an established supporter’s group in the Mill Town Operatives, and a podcast devoted to covering the team in our Yeah, THAT Soccer Show.
When May rolls around, and the spring begins to turn toward summer, the new kid in town will be Greenville FC. And while it will not be easy to be an on-field and/or financial success in its first year, if any club can do it, it is this one. Just look at what they have accomplished already.