Fresno Increasingly Becoming a Soccer Town
November 29, 2017
Soccer culture has increased on all levels in Fresno. The Fresno City College men’s team has made the final four to compete in the state championship for the past 2 years, along with Fresno Pacific University’s Men’s team moving from being an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics team to the Division 2 level, and Fresno’s Premier Development League team, the Fresno Fuego Football Club, having outstanding success in the past three seasons.
Since 2007, Fresno’s amateur soccer franchise, the Fresno Fuego, has called Chukchansi Park home for the past 10 years since being founded in 2003. They will now share the stadium with The Fresno Football club.
“I envision that we have a great team, great fans and we really put a stamp that we’re one of the better teams in the U.S.,” Ray Breshoff, president and primary owner said. “That’ll make the city feel good.”
The Fresno FC will also rebrand Fresno Fuego FC, making them the Fresno FC Under 23 team.
The club’s name, along with its crest and team colors, may have been presented as simple during the press conference that was held on July 2017, but represents something much more powerful.
“Our goal is to be hyper-local, like every organization in the valley is proud to be from the valley,” Angel Moreno, the media relations coordinator for Fresno FC said. “We have a chip on our shoulder because we are the working class area.”
The team’s mascot, the Fox, represents an animal indigenous to the region, known for its small stature, fierce demeanor and legendary survival instincts. It’s crafty, smart and doesn’t back down from a fight, creating its own path to thrive, values embedded in the culture of the Central Valley and its people.
The team’s colors, are sky blue, “San Joaquin navy,” and “Fuego red.” The colors symbolize the region’s vast horizon and potential, as well as the deep waters of the San Joaquin River, a symbol of vitality throughout the region; Fuego red honors the rich, successful history of Fresno’s PDL Club, Fresno Fuego.
“Soccer is everywhere, and a lot of people play. Clovis Community College just finished their second season, and Reedley College is suppose to be starting up a team next fall,” Moreno said. “Soccer isn’t coming out of nowhere, because for the past 20 years, it’s been here.”
Fresno Football Club’s inaugural season is already around the corner, starting in 2018, and on Nov. 9, the Fresno FC announced Adam Smith, top assistant for the Sacramento Republic FC as the club’s first head coach. Smith, 46, comes to Fresno with an outstanding track record as he has spent the past 20 years in the United States working tirelessly and has given his heart to helping athletes excel in the sport, and he will be bringing coaching experience at both USL and Major League Soccer levels.
“I don’t take this opportunity lightly… I’m going to give the community, the people of fresno, our organization, everything I possibly can,” said Smith.
On Nov. 11, the club held its first open tryout with approximately 103 players showing off their talents to the head coaching staff.
“About a third of them were local players, two third were from California, and the final third were from across the country,” Moreno said. “But who doesn’t want to find a homegrown product? Everyone loves it when you see a player on the field that not only just wearing a jersey with your city’s crest on it but he knows what that name on the jersey means. He knows the brand that is on the front. He knows the best places to eat, the people, and the language. He knows all about the city, because he’s a part of the culture.”
Six days after their first tryout, on Nov. 17, the MLS team Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced a new affiliation agreement with the Fresno FC, and with that, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC also announced that Fresno FC will be replacing the position of their USL team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 for the 2018 USL season.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be working with Vancouver Whitecaps FC,” Fresno FC general manager Frank Yallop said. “Whitecaps FC is a world-class organization and this partnership will allow us to share ideas and knowledge on player and coaching development. I’ve known Bobby Lenarduzzi for 35 years. I knew we could work together and do justice for both clubs with this deal.”
This partnership will the Whitecaps will open up opportunities for Fresno FC players to be mentored and evaluated for the MLS along with the Whitecaps signing guys from their team to play in California for the Fresno FC.