I know. This column is known as the Eagle Insider. But you will have to pardon me this issue, as I am temporarily renaming it “Ibis Insider.” That’s right; I am devoting this issue as my take on the hot commodity that is Tormenta FC.
Over the last year, I have fully caught the soccer/football bug that is sweeping America. Last year I was able to attend my first Atlanta United game, albeit was in Orlando vs. Orlando FC, and was in awe watching the game being played. Now, soccer being the international game that it is, I will probably divide the room, scratch that, I will have most people against me when I shamelessly brag about my Manchester City squad that has once again captured the Barclays Premier League. However, those who are fans of the sport here in Statesboro can all agree that Tormenta FC is a fun team and program to watch, and a prime example of what the sport should look like in America.
Take the town of Statesboro, Georgia and insert a professional soccer squad. It doesn’t sound right at first, but go venture out to Eagle Field, which the program calls home right now. You will find an electric atmosphere that is home to the first founding member of the United Soccer League 1. The USL recently restructured their tiers to better resemble other countries and their respective football associations, and chose this team, this program, and this city to be their cornerstone. The three home games that have been in Statesboro at the time of writing were all amazing games, and all wins for Tormenta, including some amazing finishes, from the game winner vs. FC Tucson that was voted as goal of the week for Marco Micaletto, to the stoppage time winner from Charlie Dennis, the USL League One Player of the Week, with less than 90 seconds to go versus Toronto FC 2. But the League One side is not the only squad in Statesboro making waves in the sport.
Tormenta FC started as a team in the Premier Development League, which was essentially a summer league with both professionals and college players together on the pitch gaining exposure and keeping their game sharp in the summer months. When it was announced that Tormenta FC would field a League One team consisting of all professionals, the front office and ownership of the club did not want to stray from the vision of “Pros Start Here.” It was soon after announced that Tormenta FC 2 would be fielded in the newly-created USL League Two, which took the place of the Premier Development League. Tormenta FC 2 has been off to a hot start, taking down the Chattanooga Red Wolves (a League One team) in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup, a nationwide tournament that any squad from a local amateur team all the way to an MLS team compete in. The squad followed up their first victory in the tournament with a hard-fought game that ended with a 3-2 defeat against a Nashville SC squad that is two leagues above Tormenta. The team placed itself in the running as the top performing USL League Two team, as only a handful of teams from the league advanced to the second round, with Tormenta being the only one to beat a team in the USL League One or higher in the Chattanooga Red Wolves. They then began their League 2 season off with a 4-0 waxing of MOBA Peachtree City, who I consider to be the rival of Tormenta 2 due to proximity. They look quite strong early on, and I cannot wait to see them continue the dominance of League Two.
The great thing regarding everything Tormenta is doing, is what it does for the community of Statesboro. The team is out and about in the community, and spreading their enthusiasm of being a part of the Statesboro community, and also growing the sport in the process. Thanks to the schedules of both Tormenta FC and Tormenta FC 2, there will be a whopping nine matches in Statesboro in the months of June and July between the two squads, in which expectations will be high. Currently, the League One side finds themselves second in the table, with a record of 4-1-2 at the time of writing. The League Two side is 1-0 in league play but does have the US Open Round One victory over a team in the league above them under their belt. On top of that, what is now Tormenta FC 2 went unbeaten last year in the PDL, and have high hopes to continue their dominance.
The future of soccer in America is bright and sunny, and ironically, it is shown through a squad and club whose name means storm. The club has unveiled and broken ground on their own stadium, which will also bring a Publix back to Statesboro, along with other retail stores. Whether you are an avid follower or know nothing of the sport, soccer is helping the Statesboro economy and the continuing progress that this city is experiencing.
My final thought to impart upon you all: I have only been to one Major League Soccer game in my life, though I have watched it on television since the incarnation of Atlanta United. I have not seen any other USL Championship, League One, or League Two team host a soccer match. I do not know what resources or support other teams have. But from what I have seen from Tormenta FC in the past year or two, I can say that if just half of the clubs across the three leagues of the United Soccer League are managed, cared for, and run like Tormenta FC is, then the sport of soccer is about to face a major explosion in America that will continue to take the game to becoming just as popular, if not more, than the other “Big 4” sports that are baseball, football (the oval shaped kind), basketball, and hockey. My kudos to the fine folks of Tormenta FC. The great hospitality and experience you provide has created a huge fan in me.