The United Soccer League 2 has officially announced a semi-pro soccer team will be coming to Daytona Beach.
The partnership between the league, Transatlantic Sports Group, DME Sports and Daytona Stadium will culminate 7 p.m., Saturday, May 4, when the newly-formed team hosts opening night at the renovated stadium. The team roster will have international and local players.
USL 2 is comprised of college stars and young aspiring professionals.
“More than 70 percent of players drafted by (Major League Soccer) come from USL 2,” a news release states. “The club will also offer youth camps and support to local organizations and schools in the area.”
Coaching the team will be Andreas Bergmann of Hamburg, Germany. He has been head coach of several German teams and was instrumental in the five-person board put together by the German Soccer Federation to revamp youth academies and the curriculum for young German players.
Coach Bergmann hopes to combine the best of German and American coaching, and player skills, as styles tend to differ.
“What is true is that there are nice people here,” he said.
Tryouts are happening now to complete the team, which, given a short time frame, he admitted would not be easy. He is looking for good players with potential. Although he speaks English, he said, “my body language on the field is better.”
Transatlantic Sports Group has been working on the project for a long time, TSG President Steve Hutton said. “We are thrilled at being at the world’s most famous beach and bringing the game of soccer to this community. We are (also) thrilled we get to develop young players in this area. The youth academy that we have here is a place we feel is going to be a vehicle for players to reach their dreams. Inspire, educate and empower, those are words we are going to try and live by. It’s a fantastic way for players to showcase themselves for professional teams whether it is the MLS or teams overseas.”
The idea for soccer in Daytona Beach isn't new, said Joel Nash, USL 2 vice president. “Daytona is a market that we have long known. We truly realize what a special group and community we are getting into our league. There is a lifeblood here, there is a passion here. This league strives to take what is there, but perhaps what is not known outside the community and put it on a national platform to really let it show the talent, drive, the passion it really has. In the end it is a community organization. USL is delighted to welcome Daytona SC.”
Dean O’Brien, CEO of Daytona Stadium, noted the soccer team is part of increasing the use of the stadium. It also will provide a large venue for Bike Week and Jeep Beach.
“I am excited to see where we are going with this stadium and all the things we are bringing to Daytona,” Mr. O'Brien said. “A lot of new things are going to be here. (USL has) a tremendous outreach program. They didn’t cheapen it by bringing in just OK coaches, they brought in the best. My hope is this is going to be the best place to be on a Saturday night when we have these games. It is going to be a fun environment.”
There is already a fan club for the new team.
The soccer squad is part of what DME Sports, the stadium's new operator, hoped to do.
Mike Panaggio, DME CEO and owner, said, “It’s really a labor of love for us when it comes to sports and sports marketing. We do a great job in the collegiate market, working with about 120 different universities. That’s how we make our money at DME. How we like to spend it is on doing projects like this. This is a first-class operation. If we are going to teach, we need great teachers and that s what we are bringing on board.”
Game tickets for $5 and $$10 will be available at the end of February. A season ticket jersey also will be available, which serves as a ticket to each game. Sponsorship packages also are available.
For more information, visit ta-sportsgroup.com