Professional soccer is coming to the First Coast in 2025 after an announcement made during a press conference by the United Soccer League at TPC Sawgrass on Aug. 30.
According to league CEO Alec Papadakis, the USL is much more than just the play on the field, but the goal is to bring communities together through soccer.
As a result, one of the ways the USL differs from other professional leagues is that it has a direct connection between pro and youth teams in the area.
The youth soccer organization in this case will be Florida Elite, which was established eight years ago and has roughly 15,000 players participating, some of which were present during the press conference.
“They will be able to eat, train and watch film alongside and in the same facilities as the pros in their town,” Papadakis said.
Another unique way JAXUSL will be unique is that it will not just introduce a men’s pro team to compete for the USL Championship, but it will also create a women’s pro team that will be part of the USL’s W League.
“This is the most exciting time for soccer in the history of the United States,” Papadakis said.
He stated how the 1994 World Cup hosted by the U.S. was intended to get soccer introduced to Americans on a mainstream level and now the 2026 World Cup, where the U.S. is one of the hosts, will serve as the bookend to that process.
According to Papadakis, over the years he has seen the game of soccer continue to grow not just in the USL, but as a whole throughout the country, and it has led to an increase in job opportunities not just on the field but in the business side of soccer.
“You can stay in the sport we love so much and make it a career,” Papadakis said.
The JAXUSL ownership group includes Ricky Caplin, Tim Tebow, Steve Livingstone and Tony Allegretti.
Caplin believes that Northeast Florida is the perfect fit for a pro soccer team because of the area’s passion for sports and a growing diverse community.
“Although I may not know much about soccer, but I do know about dreams, visions and goals,” said Tebow, a local sports legend from his time playing at Nease High School and the University of Florida.
Although the team will not begin play until 2025, the group expects the excitement to only continue and grow.
The next steps include finding a venue and facilities to play and train at locally.
The name of the squads and the team colors will be determined in the coming months as they hope to get feedback from the community to help with those decisions.
More information about the team and how to get involved is available by going to jaxusl.com.
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