September 5, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
A LITTLE BIT OF SOUL
New team set revive indoor soccer in Chicago
Professional indoor soccer has been tried in the Chicago market numerous times before. But new Chicago Soul owner Armando Gamboa thinks this time around, his group can create a successful franchise where others have failed.
"I've been following the MISL closely for ten years," said Gamboa. "I think they were spending too much money in the past."
Gamboa cites player cost as one of the areas where teams in the past have overspent, but he also knows too well that building a fan base has been one of the downfalls of previous teams.
"We are doing a lot of grassroots (efforts)," he said. "We want to have the most diversified crowd in Chicago.
"I don't think the European and Hispanic markets have been targeted in the right way," he said.
The team will play its home games at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates. The facility was the former home of the Chicago Storm in the MISL and X-Treme Soccer League, just one of the many previous indoor teams to call the Chicago area home.
Gamboa knows the Chicago indoor soccer market well. As the owner of Grand Sports Arena, which is also located in Hoffman Estates, his facilities host leagues with more than 200 teams playing in them.
"Bringing pro indoor soccer to the area adds value to all our leagues," said Gamboa.
The team will kick off its first season on November 11, with the home opener set for December 7. Already the team has held several tryouts and looked at more than200 players.
The team has hired former Mexican professional player Narciso “Chicho” Cuevas as its head coach.
“We are hoping to bring a diversified group of players together to produce a winning combination on the field," said Cuevas.
Gamboa says the team will be made up largely of players from the Chicago area, but he said he also expects to sign a couple of players from Mexico, and others who have experience within the United Soccer Leagues.
The Soul will be one of seven teams in the MISL this year, joining the long-established Milwaukee Wave, as well as the Missouri Comets and Wichita Wings in the Central Division. The east is expected to be made up of the Baltimore Blast, Rochester Lancers and Syracuse Silver Knights. Another team that played last season, the Norfolk SharX, closed up shop during the offseason.
Despite the seeming instability in the indoor game, it was the presence of the United Soccer Leagues that attracted Gamboa to the MISL.
"With the USL taking over, this league will have a lot to offer," said Gamboa, noting that the league is already fielding numerous requests for expansion teams but is moving cautiously.