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Wednesday , November 14 2018
Home | Tag Archives: usl

Tag Archives: usl

City, Mountain Star Reach Agreement to Improve Westside Sports Complex, Southwest University Park

On Friday afternoon, city officials announced they had reached an agreement with MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG) to invest more than $2.5 million into the City-owned Southwest University Park and two fields at the Westside Sports Complex under two separate agreements to be considered by El Paso City Council.

The agreements will be reviewed at a public hearing on October 2, 2018.

“These proposed agreements are a great example of the public benefit of creative alliances,” Capital Improvement Department Director Sam Rodriguez said. “With the help of MountainStar Sports Group, we can make significant improvements to two city-owned facilities without asking taxpayers to cover the costs, and the investments support the City’s vision of providing our community with exceptional recreational opportunities.”

Under one proposal, MSSG will invest approximately $2 million into Southwest University Park to allow the City-owned Ballpark to host home games for the inaugural season of El Paso’s new United Soccer League (USL) team. This is in addition to more than $15 million already invested in the City-owned Ballpark by MSSG.

The second proposed agreement allows MSSG to use the Westside Sports Complex, located at 201 Isela Rubalcava Boulevard, as a temporary practice site for El Paso’s new professional soccer team.  MSSG will invest more than $500,000 to upgrade and renovate two of the complex’s fields to meet USL requirements.  MSSG will also maintain these fields to ensure professional field standards are continued.

If approved by Council, both agreements would be in place until the USL team’s permanent soccer-specific stadium and training and practice fields are built. USL is the highest level of professional soccer in the U.S. next to Major League Soccer (MLS).

“We are excited to expose the youth soccer community to professional training operations, as well as El Paso USL team coaches and players, at the Westside Sports Complex.  We look forward to working with the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department,” said Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group.  “Our investment in the practice facility will result in a long-term benefit for youth soccer programming.”

The proposed terms for the ballpark are in the form of an amendment to the existing lease for the venue.

The proposal for the Westside Sports Complex grants the USL team preferential access to two out of the 13 fields at the complex and to an adjacent parking area, which is currently restricted to Parks and Recreation Department employees.

The improvements would be completed in time for the team’s inaugural training camp starting in January 2019.

Under the proposal, the two fields could be available for youth soccer programming when not in use by the professional club or undergoing maintenance and recovery.  Events could include championship games for local youth soccer leagues and tournaments, as well as coach and player clinics conducted by the USL Club.

“The addition of high-quality soccer facilities at the Westside Sports Complex will have such a positive impact not only for local, but regional, soccer. Having opportunities to watch the professional team practice, attend coach development clinics, and host special events, such as championship tournament games, will be wonderful for the youth soccer community,” said Teresa Sosa, Director of Cobras Soccer Events.

“El Paso USL’s training fields at the Westside Soccer Complex will benefit many groups, including UTEP Soccer.  We could potentially play a spring game there or host other events such as clinics,” said Kevin Cross, Head Coach of UTEP’s Women’s Soccer Team.  “What a thrill for our youth soccer leagues of El Paso to get to watch the professionals train.”

“Our organization looks forward to playing adjacent to El Paso USL at the Westside Sports Complex.  Our growing soccer community will surely benefit from the planned additions and improvements to the fields,” FC Dallas-West Soccer Club Director Miguel Murillo commented.  “Plus, the kids will get to see their sports heroes hard at work, which is definitely an inspiration.”

Mountain Star Officially Names Head Coach and Technical Director

In front of a packed house at their soon to be home, officials with Mountain Star Sports announced the El Paso USL’s franchise first coach and technical director Mark Lowry.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join Mountain Star Sports Group as the first-ever head coach for El Paso’s new USL club…I’m excited to help bring high level football to this town and, with such amazing ownership, we expect to be a contender from day one,” Lowry said.

Lowry comes to the Sun City by way of the Jacksonville Armada Football Club – a member of the NASL – and the Orlando City Soccer Club in MLS.  Born and raised in Birmingham, England, Lowry worked for two English Premier League (EPL) teams.  There he served as Player Scout and Academy Coach for the Wolverhampton Wanderers and Player Scout for Birmingham City FC.

The newly-named coach added, “We will be bringing the best players possible to put a competitive team on the pitch.  I am very much looking forward to getting my family settled here in El Paso and getting started.”

Lowry will start with El Paso USL in August, and his wife and two daughters will join him by the end of the year.

“Our extensive search provided exposure to many very talented and experienced soccer coaches, but Mark’s passion, recent success, training, and progressive approach stood out.  His enthusiasm for the sport of soccer and his desire to win, combined with an appreciation of the role a team plays in a community and the significant responsibility that comes with his role, convinced us that he was the right choice to lead our soccer operation on the field,” said Alan Ledford, President of El Paso USL.

“Mark has a proven track record in coaching and team management.  He’s progressive and he has an innate ability to relate to players both on and off the field which is essential for a successful soccer club,” said Andrew Forrest, General Manager for El Paso USL.  “We think Mark is one of the best and brightest young coaches in the United States and he brings a wealth of top flight knowledge from his international training and experience to our organization.”

The as-of-yet-unnamed franchise will begin play in March at Southwest University Park. For more information about season tickets and deposits, interested fans can visit the team’s website.

Video+Gallery+Story: City’s Own Omar Salgado Signed by El Paso USL

At a Wednesday news conference, Officials with El Paso USL announced that Omar Salgado has signed as the first player of the newly launched club, owned by MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG).

Salgado will be part of the inaugural 2019 squad with El Paso USL, which is one of four teams to join USL for the 2019 season.

“We are thrilled for Omar to join the team and be the first ever El Paso USL player.  He is a terrific young man who I believe will be a tremendous asset both on the field and in the community — the community he grew up in — and he is excited to return to as a professional soccer player,” said Andrew Forrest, General Manager of El Paso USL.

Salgado was raised in El Paso and holds dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico. The striker was active in youth soccer in the Sun City, playing for the Texas Fire Soccer Club. Salgado attended St. Joseph School and Cathedral High School.

The terms of Salgado’s contract with El Paso USL include his being loaned to Las Vegas Lights FC for the remainder of the 2018 season. The signing and loan are pending league and federation approval.

Salgado, who plays as a Forward, comes to El Paso USL with an impressive background, having played for both the United States U20 and U23 National Teams, and in both Major League Soccer and Liga MX. Previously the No. 1 selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Salgado has also spent time training with multiple English Premier League clubs.

“We are proud to welcome Omar home as the very first player of the very first El Paso USL team.  This is El Paso’s team and nothing symbolizes that more than bringing a true El Pasoan on board as our first signing,” said Josh Hunt, Chairman and CEO of MountainStar Sports Group.

“This was a remarkable opportunity for us to sign a world-class player with international experience whose roots are firmly planted in El Paso.  Omar is a wonderful person who will represent El Paso well both on and off the pitch,” said Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group.  “We are happy to welcome him home.”

A former Cathedral High School student, Salgado left El Paso at the age of 15 to further his career with soccer giants Club Deportivo Guadalajara, better known as Chivas.

With Chivas, he scored seven goals in 10 appearances and was named Player of the Tournament in South America’s U-17 Copa Liberatores competition. Salgado left Chivas when he accepted a call-up for the United States U-20 team, and also has represented the United States at the U-17, U-18, and U-23 levels.

Salgado, now 24, was selected first overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC after training with current English Premier League sides Everton FC and Fulham FC. He started in four of his first 14 appearances as a rookie, scoring Vancouver’s lone goal in his first start against the Columbus Crew.

The striker suffered two fractured foot injuries in 2012 and 2013, the second of which sidelined Salgado for the entire 2013 MLS season. After a successful loan to USL club Charleston Battery in 2014, the striker was recalled by the Whitecaps first team before being traded to New York City FC and purchased by Tigres UANL of Liga MX three weeks later at the end of that year.

Gallery by Alicia Renteria, Multi-Media Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Andrew Forrest Named General Manager, Business Operations for El Paso USL Team

On Wednesday, MountainStar Sports Group President, Alan Ledford, announced that Andrew Forrest has been hired as General Manager, Business Operations for the new El Paso USL organization.

“Andrew’s accomplishments in professional soccer team business management and his extensive experience in sales and operations will drive an effective organization for El Paso USL,” said Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group. “We are excited to have Andrew join our organization as we prepare for the inaugural season of professional soccer in El Paso in March of 2019.”

Mr. Forrest comes to El Paso from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he was most recently employed as General Manager for Learfield Sports.

Prior to that, he worked for the San Antonio Scorpions Professional Soccer Team as Director of Sponsorship and then as Vice President and Assistant General Manager.  He held previous positions with Playbook Management International, as Senior Account Executive with the San Antonio Scorpions and as Consultant with FC Edmonton and in the cities of Baltimore and Dallas.

Mr. Forrest is a graduate of Roanoke College (Salem, Virginia) and he earned an M.S. in Kinesiology – Sport Leadership from James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Virginia).

“With the help of Marquee Search, we conducted outreach nationwide to fill this critical position for El Paso USL,” added Ledford.  “We believe Andrew’s experience and background make him an excellent choice to get our organization up and running.”

Mr. Forrest joins Sarah Nollner, Manager of Business Operations, who was the first hire for MountainStar Sports Group’s USL operation earlier this year.  She joined El Paso USL from Major League Soccer/Soccer United Marketing in New York City where she was the Marketing and Media Consultant for the Mexican National Team, Copa America Centenario, and Gold Cup.

Prior to that, she worked with Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles in US Business Operations.  Ms. Nollner is a graduate of University of Kentucky and earned her MBA in Sports at San Diego State University.

The El Paso USL staff also includes Ryan Schmitz, Sales and Service Representative.  Mr. Schmitz came to El Paso from Boulder, Colorado, where he worked in sales for Xfinity and Assurance Wireless.  Before that, he was employed by the Reno Aces (MiLB) and Reno 1868 (USL) as Communications Coordinator.

Mr. Schmitz held previous public relations positions with the University of Florida Athletic Association, the Seattle Mariners and the Denver Broncos.  Schmitz is a graduate of the University of Missouri.

El Paso USL fans interested in placing a Season Seat Deposit can do so online or by calling 915-235-GOAL.  Prices and packages will be announced soon.

USL, MountainStar Sports Announce Outdoor Professional Soccer Franchise for El Paso in 2019

United Soccer League (USL) officials announced Wednesday that El Paso will be the next addition to the league for the 2019 season, continuing the USL’s growth in the Southwest United States.

The new club will be led by MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG), which also owns and operates the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball. The group is also a minority owner of FC Juaréz of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso.

El Paso is the fourth team to join the USL for the 2019 season, and the second this year after the announcement on January 8 of the addition of Memphis, Tennessee to join Birmingham, Alabama and Austin, Texas in the league next year.

El Paso’s addition to the league bolsters the USL’s expanding footprint in the Southwest, and adds another respected, experienced ownership group to the league’s world-class leadership.

“It is with distinct pleasure and great enthusiasm that we welcome the illustrious city of El Paso to the USL family,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “The distinguished ownership group comprised of Woody Hunt, Josh Hunt, Paul Foster and Alejandra De la Vega-Foster add to the world-class ownership groups already present in the USL, and in MountainStar Sports Group President Alan Ledford the group includes one of the most admired executives in professional baseball, whose leadership helped the El Paso Chihuahuas to be recognized as one of MiLB’s most successful teams and to average in the top five in attendance in the Pacific Coast League each of the past four seasons. Add to that the group’s experience in building FC Juarez of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso into a strong organization over the past three years, and the tremendous passion for civic responsibility MountainStar Sports Group has shown throughout its history, I have no doubt this group will propel its new USL team to remarkable achievements both on and off the field in the coming years.”

Josh Hunt, MSSG Chairman and CEO, said, “Since our inception, improving the quality of life in our region and promoting economic development have been our core objectives. We’re very proud to bring this high level of professional soccer to El Paso and to be a part of the USL.”

“Our market has demonstrated the extraordinary way it supports its sports teams, and given the popularity of soccer throughout this region, we expect Division II USL soccer to be very popular,” said Alan Ledford. “MountainStar Sports Group is excited about this opportunity to bring some of the best players in the country to play in front of some of the best fans in the country.”

As part of a regional economic development initiative, MountainStar Sports Group launched a successful effort to bring Minor League Baseball to El Paso in 2011. In 2012, the Group acquired the Tucson Padres, the Triple-A Baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

The team began play as the El Paso Chihuahuas in a new, $78 million state-of-the-art Ballpark in the heart of downtown El Paso in the spring of 2014. In 2015, MSSG and a group of Mexican investors acquired an expansion franchise from the Mexican Futbol Federation. The Ascenso MX club began play as Los Bravos de Juarez in the Benito Juarez Olympic Stadium the same year.

Woody Hunt is Executive Chairman of the Board of Hunt Companies, Inc. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Complete College America, is a foundation trustee of the College for all Texans Foundation, and a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center-Houston.

He previously served as Chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council, where he now serves on the Executive Committee. He is co-chair and PAC chair for Texas Aspires (formerly Texas Institute for Education Reform and Texans for Education Reform); a member of the Board of Directors for El Paso Electric (Nasdaq: EE) and WestStar Bank; and is a member of the Executive Council of No Labels. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance.

Paul Foster is the President of Franklin Mountain Management, LLC. He is the founder and former Executive Chairman of Western Refining, Inc., and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Andeavor, a premier U.S. refining, marketing, and logistics company. He is also on the Boards of Jordan Foster, Vomaris, Inc., Westar Bank, and the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, El Paso Branch. Mr. Foster previously served as Chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, and currently serves as Vice Chairman.

Previously, he served as the Chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO). He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance, and a member of the World Presidents’ Organization.

Alejandra De la Vega-Foster is the Vice President of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera, owner and operator of convenience stores in Ciudad Juaréz and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. She also owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juarez and holds the franchise rights for La Madeleine Country French Café in El Paso, southern New Mexico, and Arizona. She is currently a member of the Hospitals of Providence Governing Board, and a member of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors.

She is involved in Desarrollo Economico de Juarez, serves on the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. In 2016, Mrs. De la Vega – Foster was appointed by the Governor of the State of Chihuahua, Mexico to serve as Secretary of Innovation and Economic Development for the electoral period of 2016-2021. She also serves as the Chair of Los Bravos, and is the past president and CEO of Club de Futbol Cobras of Ciudad Juarez, a team promoted to the Primera Division in its first season. Mrs. De la Vega-Foster also previously served on the Board of the Mexican Futbol Federation.

Josh Hunt serves as Executive Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors for Hunt Companies, Inc. He is also President of the Hunt Family Foundation. Josh Hunt is also on the board of directors of Minor League Baseball’s Pacific Coast League, and is a board member of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance; member of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) President’s Athletic Advisory Council; Hospitals of Providence Governing Board; a founding board member of the El Paso Children’s Museum; chairman of the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation Board and Texas Tech Foundation Board; Board Chair of WestStar Home Loans (a subsidiary of WestStar Bank); and currently co-chairs the Center Against Sexual & Family Violence Capital Campaign. Josh Hunt is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization.

Alan Ledford is President of MountainStar Sports Group, and President of Leg Up Entertainment, a division of MountainStar Sports Group. He is a former Vice President of Business Operations for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, and the former President, Chief Operating Officer, and General Manager of the Sacramento River Cats and its home ballpark, Raley Field. During Ledford’s nearly nine-year tenure with the River Cats, the team led all Minor League Baseball in attendance and revenue generation.

In 2006, Ledford was named Minor League Baseball Executive of the Year by Baseball America. Alan Ledford previously worked in professional soccer, helping the Portland Timbers (then a USL club) become successful on and off the field before its ascent to Major League Soccer.

***Expanded Coverage: What is the USL?  by Diego Sanchez – Special to the Herald-Post