Evidence of soccer’s enormous growth in America is the September kickoff of the inaugural season of the Midlands’ new semi-pro soccer team, the Soda City Football Club. It’s the third team in the state in the 170-plus team United Premier Soccer League, joining Spartanburg and Charleston. Coach and co-owner Patrick Burnette says soccer is exploding in the U.S., and thanks to small but dedicated clubs around the state, the talent pool is strong. Player Hunter Haynes says it’s all he’s ever wanted to do, and like teammate Nestor Jaramillo (and the rest of the team, for that matter), he aspires to make it to the pros in Major League Soccer.
That’s not a stretch to Burnette, who believes a number of his players have the talent to make it in the professional levels. Both coach and players believe they can win their division in their first year, with Burnette saying that anything less than a championship will be considered a failure. Haynes is excited to begin the first season because “we get to write our own history. There’s pressure on us, but it’s, like, an exciting type of pressure, you know?”