Baltimore’s newest soccer club had its first leg of open tryouts McDonough School on Sunday.
OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore has a rich history of soccer within the city and in surrounding areas. Just in July, Christos FC, an amateur soccer club based from a liquor store in Glen Burnie, were tied with D.C. United (Major League Soccer) until the 81st minute of the U.S. Open Cup.
That badge of honor for Baltimore soccer fans will continue with FC Baltimore, a semi-professional team that will participate in the National Premier Soccer League. The NPSL is in the fourth-tier of the United States’ soccer hierarchy, below Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and the United Soccer League. There are 95 teams in the NPSL.
Baltimore will participate in the Mid-Atlantic Division, which includes Charlottesville Alliance FC, FC Frederick, Legacy 76 (based in Williamsburg, VA), Northern Virginia United FC (based in Leesburg, VA) and Virginia Beach City FC.
Among the leaders of the program are Project Manager Joe Shargorodsky, Director of Soccer Operations Alex Lubyansky, Director of Community Relations/Goalkeeping Coach William Vanzela (Baltimore Blast goalkeeper), Chief Financial Officer Paul Zlotolow, and Director of Digital Media and Branding Gary Pyatigorsky.
Last but not least, FC Baltimore Head Coach Brandon Quaranta will lead the team into battle during the upcoming season. He was the head coach of McDonough School in Owings Mills, MD, where he won a state championship in 2015.
“We’re producing a roster of local guys and bringing the Baltimore community to support this team, so that’s our goal,” said Quaranta, about constructing his roster. We want the bulk of our roster to be familiar with the city, who have spent their time in the city, grown up here, played youth ball and gone on to do other things, but want to come back to represent Baltimore again this summer.”
The majority of FC Baltimore’s players will hail from the Baltimore area and have played college or high school soccer in the area. Many players who tried out on Sunday were from local universities.
“It’s a mix,” Quaranta said of his roster’s composition of local players. “I’d say about three quarters of our rosters are guys that have come through the high school ranks, whether it be through the MIAA (Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association), the private schools or the public schools in this area and them going on to play, whether it is a local college [Maryland, UMBC, Loyola] or the Wake Forests or Clemsons of the world.”
Around 35 players showed up to the open tryout on Sunday. Quaranta was extremely pleased with what he saw from Sunday’s tryouts.
“It was good,” Quaranta exclaimed. “I thought the turnout was good. You always wonder with open tryouts, it’s a hard format, you have a bunch of different levels, you have guys from all over, you have guys who are unfamiliar with each other, so it’s a difficult format to run. Plus the numbers fluctuate, so the planning side is different.
“But I thought the level was good, I thought guys came and were excited to play and I was happy for day one of the club. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was very pleased.”
FC Baltimore will have another tryout in late-February according to Quaranta. After the second leg of tryouts and conversing with other players, Quaranta and his staff will select a group of players to begin the season in May. Other players that play in college from other areas will be considered as well if they express interest in joining the club.
“I just told the guys when they left, our goals are very clear,” Quaranta said. “We want to put together the best possible roster and staff that we can and then we want to compete, starting with our region and be one of the better clubs in the region.”
“So that’s our goal. We know that it’s not going to be easy, especially being a new club, but that’s why everyone’s getting together. We all have better things to do in our evening and stuff like that. We’re trying to put together the best possible club to compete at the top levels of the NPSL We don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, we’ve got a lot of respect for the league and the teams that are in the league, but that’s our goal down the line for sure.”