The Milwaukee Torrent will play their inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League.
After committing to be part of the ASL2, an offshoot of the fledgling American Soccer League, Torrent owner and coach Andreas Davi had to reconsider his options when the teams expected to join the new league chose to go elsewhere.
"It didn't come together because of financial issues with some of the other teams," Davi said of the proposed ASL2 Midwest Region.
Instead, Milwaukee will play in the re-formed Central Conference of the NPSL's Midwest Region, but won't be eligible for the regional and national playoffs in 2016. The Torrent will join the Minnesota Twin Stars, La Crosse Aris SC and the Chicago Mustangs in what is being called a provisional conference.
"Why the NPSL? It's a much more established league, and you can play as a pro (team) or you can play as an amateur," said Davi, whose team still plans to pay all of its players and be classified as professional. "We're building up a whole new Central Division. ... We're going to have our own league with our own cup."
The Twin Stars are a charter member of the NPSL, joining the Sonoma County Sol as the only teams to play in the league since its launch in 2005. Aris played in the NPSL from 2009 to '14, based in Eau Claire for its first five seasons, and was announced as a member of the Premier League of America before being removed from the league for undisclosed reasons. Minnesota and La Crosse both also will field reserve teams in the Minnesota-based American Premier League this season.
The Mustangs have played professionally indoors the past four seasons, and are among the Major Arena Soccer League's top teams this winter. Former Mexican national team striker Adolfo "Bofo" Bautista is playing with them this season.
"They are another professional organization, which is good," Davi said of the Chicago club. "Then the way it looks is for 2017, some more teams will come in."
Davi is quite familiar with the NPSL, having coached the Milwaukee Bavarians' Under-23 team in the league from 2010 to '12.
"From the advertising side and to the public, it's much more recognized than the ASL," he said. "I think the competitiveness will be much higher in the NPSL than it would be in another league, especially with the addition of the Chicago Mustangs."
The NPSL allows teams to pay its players, but has single-game and season salary caps; Davi said the limits will not affect his payroll plans for the Torrent.
The two conferences whose teams will vie for the Midwest Region title are the Great Lakes East and West. Each conference originally had seven teams, but the East lost a team recently when Pennsylvania's Fort Pitt Regiment dropped out.
"One thought was maybe for us to go into that division, but it's too late for that," Davi said. "Because then what do you do with Chicago, Twin Stars and La Crosse? But we are not worried about this. We'll make this a strong division."
The Central schedule is expected to be announced this week, at which point the Torrent will begin season ticket sales. Davi anticipates a 13-game schedule for the team's first season, with nine matches in the Milwaukee area and four road games.
The team has announced dates for friendlies against Marquette, UW-Green Bay, Cardinal Stritch and FC Wisconsin Nationals, and Davi said other potential friendlies include a home-and-home series against the independent Muskegon Risers and matches against NPSL sides FC Indiana and Indy Eleven NPSL (previously known as the Indiana Fire).
Davi has 18 players signed to the Torrent's roster, having added seven local players over the past six weeks following the team's third and final tryout.
Goalkeeper Nick Barry (UW-Oshkosh), left back Chris Kurth (Green Bay Southwest/UW-Oshkosh), center back Landon Bulluck-McSwain (Shorewood), striker Nemanja Medic (Milwaukee Hamilton/UW-Parkside) and midfielders Jules Sekyi (Whitnall/UW-Whitewater), Bojan Jovicic (Milwaukee Hamilton/UW-Parkside) and Ignacio Baeza (Cardinal Stritch) are the latest additions.
With the team set to begin training April 18, Davi is still looking to sign another right back – and hire another assistant coach. He added legendary UW-Parkside coach Rick Kilps to his staff, but also had Steve Long step down from his position.
Kilps retired at Parkside in May 2011, having recorded a 363-135-32 record in 27 seasons. Davi said he met Kilps, a member of both the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association and the Wisconsin Soccer Association Halls of Fame, during his time coaching the Bavarians' NPSL team and the two struck up a friendship.
"It maybe sounds strange, but I felt kind of a chemistry, that we both wanted the same stuff," Davi said. "The way he introduced me to his players, did extra sessions so I could come and scout the players. And through the years, we never lost touch. For me, I wanted someone by my side who is from here. I know he wants to work with this age group and he is excited about it, he likes what I have planned."
Davi said that Long, a native of England who previously coached in the youth academy at Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen, is stepping away from coaching for the time being. "Soccer-wise, he said he is burned out. He's going to stop working in soccer completely. He wants to focus on his family," Davi said. "We just have to accept this. He will still be involved a little bit, but not on a daily basis."
April 23: at Marquette at Valley Fields, 7 p.m. (friendly)
April 30: vs. UW-Green Bay at Whitefish Bay HS, noon (friendly)
May 7: vs. Cardinal Stritch, site TBA, 6 p.m. (friendly)
May 14: at FC Wisconsin Nationals at Germantown, 6 p.m. (friendly)
NPSL schedule and other friendlies to be announced
Subject to change
Home matches at Uihlein Soccer Park, Milwaukee
|No.||Name||Pos.||Birthdate||Hometown (high school)||College|
|1||Matt Eisold||GK||May 3, 1988||Burlington||Wisconsin Lutheran|
|5||Landon Bulluck-McSwain||D||Dec. 3, 1989||Milwaukee (Shorewood)||Herkimer CC (N.Y.)|
|6||Dustin Ashley||D||Nov. 13, 1992||Racine (Horlick)||UW-Milwaukee|
|7||Bojan Jovicic||F-M||Milwaukee (Hamilton)||UW-Parkside|
|8||Tony Patterson||D-M||May 24, 1990||Menomonee Falls||UW-Green Bay|
|9||Stuart Grable||D||Sept. 26, 1989||Neenah||UW-Green Bay|
|10||Declan Rodriguez||M-D||June 15, 1993||Vancouver, B.C.||UW-Milwaukee|
|11||Ignacio Baeza||M||July 16, 1992||Santiago, Chile||Cardinal Stritch|
|12||Nick Barry||GK||Wheaton, Ill.||UW-Oshkosh|
|13||Luke Goodnetter||M||Oct. 15, 1991||Brookfield (East)||UW-Milwaukee|
|14||Nemanja Medic||F||Franklin (Milwaukee Hamilton)||UW-Parkside|
|15||Aaron Horvat||F||April 12, 1994||East Troy (Wauk. Catholic Memorial)||UW-Milwaukee|
|19||Jules Sekyi||M||Feb. 2, 1988||Greenfield (Whitnall)||UW-Whitewater|
|21||Chris Kurth||D||Green Bay (Southwest)||UW-Oshkosh|
|22||Zach Stevenson||D||Sept. 27, 1993||Westfield, Ind.||UW-Milwaukee|
|23||A.J. Patterson||M||July 17, 1991||Menomonee Falls||UW-Green Bay|
|26||Ian Bennett||M-F||Aug. 27, 1985||Hamilton, Ontario||Marian (Ind.)|
|99||James Weber||F||Nov. 6, 1992||Hartford||Xavier|
Coach-owner: Andreas Davi.
Assistant: Rich Kilps.