The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) was announced on Wednesday that a new soccer club was coming to Tennessee: Memphis City FC. The club will begin play in 2016 and will play at the 2,500-seat stadium at Mike Rose Soccer Complex, which is home to the University of Memphis men’s and women’s teams as well as to some of the biggest youth tournaments in the region.
Some might think that Memphis is not an ideal location for a soccer team of any sort. However, Memphis is not without its share of soccer history and passion. From 1978 to 1980, the Memphis Rogues played at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in the days of the old North American Soccer League. The American Outlaws chapter in Memphis always packs their watch bar (the Brass Door, if anyone is ever in town when the US is playing) for games, even friendlies. They are also known to take large contingents of fans to support the US in locations such as Nashville, Birmingham, Chattanooga and upcoming locations like St. Louis and New Orleans. When American soccer journalists put out the top 10 US markets for Premier League games, Memphis periodically finds itself there (usually when Everton plays, as Tim Howard’s family lives in Memphis). There is without doubt plenty of love for the beautiful game in the Mid-South.
The announcement sparked plenty of excitement within the community. Local media ran stories, and the club is up to 600 followers on Twitter and 520 likes on Facebook in under 24 hours. There is also the potential for several in-state rivalries, as Nashville FC and Chattanooga FC also play in the NPSL. What has some people excited is the not unrealistic possibility of hosting US Open Cup matches. There’s even a remote possibility of Memphis City getting to square off against Major League Soccer clubs.
While Memphis will probably never get an MLS team or even host a US national team game (men’s or women’s) there is still a desire to see professional soccer. The fact it’s happening in a city where basketball is king and a region of the country where soccer is not celebrated makes it that much better for those in Memphis who love the beautiful game.
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