When the National Premier Soccer League declared the termination of AFC Cleveland’s membership in early December, it appeared soccer fans around Sixth City would have to wait some time to find another team to support. As it turns out, the wait will be no longer than a single NPSL off-season. Cleveland SC, the league’s newest expansion side, will begin competition in 2018.
The team is owned by Cleveland SC Corp., whose single investor at the moment is Samuel T. Seibert. When a group of local players began looking for a chance to play semi-pro soccer, Seibert saw it as a chance to fulfill a dream to a major part of the Cleveland sports scene.
“I could not let the opportunity pass me by to promote soccer in Cleveland as well as be part of a city that has a history of success in the sport,” said Seibert.
Though it did not work out between the NPSL and AFC Cleveland, Seibert is convinced there is no better partner for his new team, He points to the NPSL’s unwavering commitment to invest in Cleveland. According to him, the NPSL is committed to building, promoting, and securing a fast growing sport in the Cleveland community.
Seibert said the league’s philosophy of growing together as business partners with its constituent members demonstrates “leadership and teamwork, which are qualities often associated with champions.”
A schedule for the NPSL Midwest Region East Conference, in which Cleveland SC will participate, has yet to be released, but teams in the Midwest typically begin play in May. This leaves a lot to be accomplished in a short amount of time for the newly minted team.
Seibert listed two reasons to start in 2018 rather than postponing the launch until 2019. First, he did not want Cleveland to lose its momentum with regard to staking a claim as a soccer city. Second, he could not tell the enthusiastic band of players they would have to wait a year to play semi-pro soccer.
So, who are the players that will be donning the Cleveland SC kits? That decision rests in the hands of the head coach, a position for which the front office is still conducting interviews. Seibert did make it a point to mention former AFC Cleveland players Coleton Long, Chris Cvecko, and Tom Beck were among the vocal contingent searching for a new team.
The crest that adorns Cleveland SC’s website and social media pages is not the official crest, but the color scheme is accurate. The entirety of the new brand will be announced in the weeks leading up to the season.
A home venue will be announced in the next couple of days. Seibert suggested ticket prices will be competitive and the game day experience will be entertaining. A pre-sale on tickets for a designated supporters section will be conducted for those who follow Cleveland SC on social media (@SoccerCleveland & @SoccerCLE). The team will organize events for youth organization and host intermission challenges. Concessions will be purveyed by boosters.