Best of 2018

It’s that time of year, when we think over the last year and single out that moment that made this year great. The best of the best, for the world to see. We asked our writers to pick their best of the year and we put it together just for you, Cheers!

Dan - Soccer coming to El Paso/Border Region

When I moved to El Paso 8 years ago, the older clubs had all died off and soccer was effectively dead as a sport to attend. The Liga MX club across the border in Juarez was there, but the situation was always a little too dangerous for my tastes. Then came the announcement at the end of 2017 that the UPSL was coming to Las Cruces, NM. FC Grande was founded and became my club of choice. Soon after, Southwest FC was born. From no clubs to two clubs, then soon after another announcement, USL was putting a team in El Paso. So now three clubs are within driving distance and, honestly, Locomotiv is within walking distance. What a time to live in El Paso, Texas!

Steven - Finding the Riverside Coras Football Club

Once upon a time there was a podcast called Bury My Heart USA and the host ranted and inspired me to find my local club. Before then I was all about MLS and American soccer, thinking I was truly supporting what soccer was in this country. Boy was I wrong. Finding the Coras meant finding my club. I went to every home match, started volunteering and falling in love with the sport in a way I never thought was possible. I met tons of new friends and people I now consider family. 2018 was a difficult year personally and without the Coras and local soccer, it would have been a whole lot worse. My relationship with the sport has changed and I owe that all to finding my local club. So go out and find yours.

Shawn - The founding and rapid expansion of Protagonist Soccer

This has been one hell of a year for me in the soccer world. Never in my wildest dreams could I have thought that a random upstart site like ours could grow so fast and introduce us to the people who run all the clubs we’ve spoken with. It has been an absolute blast meeting and hearing the experiences from these players and front office personnel. So, to our readers and my fellow writers, I raise a glass to you. Let’s continue making waves with our site.

Phil - The UPSL Spring Final

The UPSL National Finals has its ups and downs, but the National Final match between Sporting AZ and eventual champion Milwaukee Bavarians was an instant classic. Two incredibly talented teams who had played a grueling weekend schedule spent 90 minutes pushing each other to the absolute limit. Bavarians took a 3-0 lead fairly quickly, but the drive and determination to not quit brought Sporting AZ back into the game. It ended 3-2 in favor of Bavarians but it was a match that equaled the quality of the clubs involved.

Dominic - A Crazy Year with Duluth FC

I volunteer with my local club, Duluth FC, as a staff writer and assistant of other sorts (filling out rosters, doing laundry) when the club travels. This year, my first with the club, was a crazy one that saw us drive (driving being split between the likes of the club photographer, myself, and coaching staff) everywhere from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls and Ann Arbor and eventually saw the club win its first regional NPSL title. That led to me flying to Miami to help the team as it faced off eventual league champions Miami FC in the National Semi-Final. At the end of all that I thought I’d seen it all in 2018, little did I know Protagonist was on the way.

Josh – Opening Eyes and Hearts to Clubs beyond MLS

I live in an area with so many options to play or support soccer that it has been written about around the world—there is no want for soccer to play or clubs to follow… but I didn’t always know that. For many parts of the country, the discourse around Major League Soccer can be largely negative and for the most part those perspectives aren’t shared here. This allows fans who support the Timbers, Sounders or Whitecaps to also support their local USL, NPSL or regional leagues with very little friction. Researching my local clubs led me to sharing those with Protagonist and in turn led me to look into great organizations across the country, from New Jersey and Florida to Nebraska and the San Francisco Bay Area… There are so many options to truly support local soccer. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the coaches, directors and fans of all of these clubs and encourage anybody to check out the websites for NPSL, UPSL or even state or regional leagues—find a club in your neighborhood, and give them your heart, its eye-opening to see how much joy you receive in return.