Rocket City United is about open their 2010 NPSL Southeast Region season Saturday night against Pumas of Birmingham (7:30 PM at the Madison City Schools Stadium). There's a buzz in the local soccer community about the team and genuine excitement in Madison about the new direction the club has taken. Let's take a look a some of the major developments in RCU since the successful 2009 season ended.
New OwnershipIn February, Bryan Boyd and his design company SCS purchased an ownership stake in the club. "Southern Convention Services is excited about partnering with Rocket City United in Madison to promote the highest level of soccer locally." As part of the deal, SCS has become the major jersey sponsor for the club. SCS's experience will be vital for the hosting of the league championship, as RCU has won the right to host the NPSL Final Four on the final weekend of July.
New Team Offices/Training Center
With the addition of SCS to the ownership group, the team moved their offices from downtown Huntsville to western Madison and into the corporate headquarters of SCS. Along with office space for the coaches and team staff, the club also announced that they will build a training facility for the team on land adjacent to the team offices. They hope to have the training facility ready for the 2011 season.
In December, the team announced that it had reached an agreement with the City of Madison to use the Madison City School Stadium as its venue for all home matches and the NPSL Final Four. The move to the 7 year old facility will make it one of the premier venues in the NPSL. Team president Andy Zorovich expects a bump in attendance with the relocation. "The corps of the people who were coming to our games last year live in the [Madison] area." He also expects the game day experience to improve. "It's a real stadium. It's got everything we need... I think it will be very, very nice having the games there."
New Coaching Staff
Also in December, the team announce the hiring of Desmond Armstrong as the new Technical Director of the club replacing Greg Petersen. Armstrong, a former professional player who has represented the USA in the 1990 World Cup, has been brought to lead the team and establish a more intricate player development program including the "RCU Heroes Academy of Excellence". Additionally, the RCU training staff has added Mike Lee and Ike Onyeador to assist Armstrong. Lee is an Armstrong acolyte from South Africa who played for the Armstrong at NAIA school Montreat College and brings a strong understanding of the world's game. Onyeador is an upcoming coaching talent who is also the assistant at NAIA power Union College.
Perhaps the biggest change in the team from last season is on the field. Of the team's roster from the NPSL semifinal match last year, only 8 players remain, with only 4 from that starting 11 expected to make an impact on this year's team. There has been an influx of talent from abroad and several additions from local programs UAH and Alabama A&M. The corps of the returners are on the defensive side of the field and it will be interesting to see if the attacking players that have been added to the squad can gel in time to lead to a successful NPSL Southeast Region season.
That's it for tearing off the wrapping of all the club's "newness". It's going to be a very exciting and interesting year for RCU. See you all Saturday night!