City soccer team takes first steps
Local business man J.P. Terrasi and city officials Monday announced Cape Coral’s first men’s amateur soccer team, the Cape Coral Hurricanes.
The U-23 team is conceived as a developmental team for the United Soccer Leagues, the governing league for professional and development soccer clubs across the country. The USL is based in Tampa, according to their website.
The Hurricanes’ formal team franchise has not been awarded by the USL officially, but Terrasi said the application process for the expansion franchise is expected to take place soon.
“I have been working closely with the USL for a year and a half,” said Terrasi, “and I will file the application later this year as soon as we get the final piece of the ownership finalized.”
In the meantime, the Hurricanes will host eight exhibition games at Cape Coral High School this spring and summer with other D-League teams in the Southeast Division, including teams from Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Central Florida, Bradenton, Mississippi and Nashville.
The Hurricanes will play a total of 16 to 18 exhibition games starting at the end of April and running through August. The schedule of games likely will be released after the combines.
“We’ll be operating like we are in the league,” Terrasi said. “I’ve been taking a lot of phone calls already about tryouts.”
The Cape Coral Hurricanes will be comprised of players under the age of 23 for the most part and selected through a series of tryout combines.
Former Ida Baker boys varsity soccer coach Mick Whitewood, who also has coached in the Cape Coral Soccer Association, has been selected as Hurricanes’ head coach, but the players have not been named.
“I’ve been in contact with a number of international and college players,” said Whitewood. “You are allowed eight international and seven players over the age of 23 on the roster. We also want the local players, the ex-high school and college player.”
Players are not paid to play for the Hurricanes, but are fed and housed by the team.
“The players will get a lot of national and international recognition,” said Whitewood. “The D-League is a springboard for them into professional soccer. I expect 200 or 300 players attend the combine.”
The team is hosting open tryouts on Feb. 3, 4 and 5 at Jim Jeffers Soccer Complex. Fees for tryouts range from $195 to $245, depending on when payment is submitted. The 26-member team also will have eight spots for players over the age of 23.
“I’m looking to build a strong, physical and disciplined team,” said Whitewood. “It will have to come together quickly, so there is a lot of work to do.”
Terrasi compares the D-League to a Double-A baseball team, developing talent that eventually will move up the ranks to the professional USL clubs.
Terrasi noted that the professional level teams in the USL usually have top Division 1 NCAA level talent on their rosters.
Cape Coral Councilmember Kevin McGrail praised the new team and Terrasi’s efforts, and thinks the city’s large European population will provide an instant fan base for the team.
“We’re excited about the prospects of what soccer will mean to the city it truly is the world’s sport,” McGrail added.
“Competitive sports teams can enhance the quality of life in a community,” said Economic Development Director Dana Brunett.
Whitewood said the area’s strong youth soccer program, one of the largest in the state, along with the large Hispanic, German and European communities should form a strong base of fans backing the Hurricanes.
Terrasi has ticket prices and packages worked out for the upcoming exhibition season, but the schedule has not been announced. For more information visit CapeHurricanes.com.
United Soccer League officials could not be reached for comment.
Sports Editor Jim Linette contributed to this report.