Community Perspective: Blue Ridge FC: Harrisonburg’s New Soccer Sensation Draws Crowds and Dreams Big

A contributed perspectives piece by Jeremy Aldrich

Troy Matingou celebrates his winning goal against DC United U19, surrounded by Tyler Miller, Izaack Cruz, and Dylan Walsh. Image courtesy of Andre Rubio.

Soccer has found a new home in Harrisonburg with the formation of Blue Ridge FC, a team that showcases local talent in the “beautiful game.” The squad, which is Harrisonburg’s first semiprofessional soccer team, kicked off its inaugural season with a bang on April 7, attracting over 200 fans to its debut match at Horizons Edge Sports Campus. That game delivered a thrilling 1-0 victory over DC United U19, setting a high standard for the games to come.

 Founded this year by a group of soccer enthusiasts led by John Hall, CEO of Endless Horizons, the team is one of more than 400 in the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL). The UPSL serves as the fourth tier of the U.S. soccer hierarchy, providing a development opportunity for players who hope to turn their passion into professional soccer careers. Playing in the UPSL’s DMV South conference, Blue Ridge FC faces stiff competition from teams from around Washington, DC, and Virginia.

Blue Ridge FC plays in the UPSL, which is in the fourth tier of the U.S. soccer “pyramid” and includes more than 400 teams around the country. Image courtesy of Andre Rubio.

And because the teams are “hyperlocal”, they’re not restricted only to major urban areas. Having a team in the UPSL gives people in and around Harrisonburg a chance to enjoy cheering, chanting, and rooting for strong talent that they may also run into at the store or in the park. And, hopefully, it will give fans a chance to say, “I knew them when…” as players advance in their soccer careers.

The formation of the team was a community event in itself, with more than 160 hopefuls attending tryouts in January. The final squad includes a mix of local high school and college talent, alongside seasoned players who are out of college. Reflective of Harrisonburg’s diverse population, the team includes players from around the globe, bringing a rich variety of styles and experiences to the pitch.

Young fans high five the players after the first home game on April 7. Image courtesy of Andre Rubio.

The team’s next challenge is on the horizon, with a home game scheduled for Sunday, April 21 at 3 PM against Alexandria United FC, promising another exciting afternoon of soccer. Blue Ridge FC is active on social media, connecting with fans through Instagram and Facebook. As the season progresses, the team hopes to foster a strong, supportive soccer community in Harrisonburg.

Jeremy is a local educator and was previously a part of the team behind the (now defunct) local news website as well as the (also now defunct) local news parody site Crocktown.

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