Keene joins United Premier Soccer League, to hold tryouts Jan. 27 at Alvarado High School
Keene may be the only Johnson County school district that doesn’t play American football, but it’s now the only one to host a professional soccer team.
The Keene Football Club — that's soccer to people in the USA — is the newest member of the United Premier Soccer League and will start play in the spring with Sunday afternoon home games at Charger Stadium on the campus of Keene High School, according to a media release from the UPSL.
The team will host an open tryout from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 at Alvarado High School, 1301 S Parkway Drive in Alvarado.
Keene FC, co-owned by Brentt Miller and Matt Kahla, will be a member of the Pro Premier Division Texas Conference that includes the FC Knights in Killeen, Inocentes FC in Fort Worth, and teams in Round Rock and Katy. Teams representing Austin and San Antonio are a possibility, Miller said.
The Keene FC logo incorporates a lightning bolt, similar to the logo of the Keene Chargers. On June 21, Keene ISD hosted the FC Cleburne team in a game against Texas United, indicating Keene ISD had the stadium to meet minimum requirements of the UPSL. The team will be sponsored by Loaf’n Dog, a casual local eatery, with more sponsors soon to be announced.
Keene FC has already signed three players, including Australian Pat Satorie, a goalie who starred at West Texas A&M, recording a small-school NCAA record of 158 career saves including 22 shutouts in one season.
The team is coached by Ebenezer Fobowaje, a former member of the Nigerian National Team, who has 15-plus years of professional coaching experience.
Miller and Kahla, are former front office members for FC Cleburne turned business partners. Miller, 45, is a project specialist and international liaison for a local distribution center. A native of Kansas, Miller will serve as the club’s director of operations.
“We’re going to build from the ground up,” Miller said. “We see tremendous growth in the area with soccer, and what’s so enticing is that Keene doesn’t play American football. It’s a tight-knit community that’s already showing a ton of interest in soccer. We’re getting phone calls and emails about what our next steps are and we think we made a really good decision.”
Kahla, 31, is marketing director for Tuxedo Automotive in Cleburne, and has worked as a consultant for a number of Pro Development teams throughout Texas. He currently serves as the UPSL Texas Conference operations manager.
The club will soon announce tryout dates and its upcoming game schedule.
Founded in 2017, Keene FC can participate in the qualifying rounds for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup through their affiliation and membership with the UPSL, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the United States Adult Soccer Association.
“The UPSL’s Texas Conference is on fire right now, and we’re pleased to welcome Keene FC as a new member for the Spring 2018 season,” UPSL Commissioner Yan Skwara said. “Pro Development soccer is booming in Texas, and the UPSL is leading the way with our Promotion/Relegation movement. We think Brentt and Matt are poised to do some really great things both on and off the field with their club. We wish Keene FC the best of luck as it prepares to kick off in 2018.”
United Premier Soccer League
The UPSL was formed in 2011 and currently includes more than 100 teams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
According to a medial release from UPSL, it is the fastest growing Pro Development League in the USA, with 125-plus teams targeted for 2018 Spring Season. Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated, and is responsible for maintaining either UPSL Pro Premier Division or Championship Division minimum standards.
UPSL teams are all eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the leagues affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation and the United States Adult Soccer Association.
More information about UPSL can be found at www.upslsoccer.com or by following the league on Facebook (www.facebook.com/upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer).