Patrick Infurna: New Perspectives on the Beautiful Game
If you don’t follow Copa90 on social media, you’re missing out on one of the most exciting organizations covering international soccer. Their videos are interesting, well-shot, and fun to watch. Patrick Infurna plays a big part in many of their videos and we thought our readers would enjoy his thoughts on soccer journalism, the New York Cosmos and his music career. Enjoy!
So Patrick, tell us about your background. Where are you from? Go to school? Etc?
What’s up! My name is Patrick Infurna, I was born in New Jersey but spent my teenaged and formative years in Vermont, where I also went to school at Castleton University. I studied Latin American Politics in school, spent some time in Argentina, landed an internship/job with a Boca Juniors academy in the US and now I work at COPA90 as a presenter and associate producer! I also dig music and play in a band that I’ve been in since I was 13, weird.
How'd you get into soccer journalism?
My path into working in soccer involved a lot of kindness and support from friends and a little luck, my boy Prez brought me in to COPA90 which was then KICK to work on his documentary team as a Production Assistant, at that point I had been doing operations for the Boca Juniors US office and was ready for a switch to something more creative. COPA90 is an incredible company and the mobility and the access to do what you want within it is something I’m fortunate to be a part of, I was able to dip my toes into more aspects of the creative side of things after some time here and even able to co-produce documentaries, explainers, and other projects, it rules.
Tell us about Copa90. It's become the place to go for soccer content that's cutting edge. How did you get involved and what role do you fill there? How would you describe Copa90's method for choosing, shooting, producing content?
To go more into what COPA90 is about, we locate stories based on how important they are to the fans, really. It’s hard to pinpoint how and why exactly we do what we do and I’d bet there’s some sort of company line I should say here but to be completely honest, when it comes to our editorial content and when we want to tell a real fan oriented story, there’s just no stopping it. We’re constantly traversing the globe looking for the next story and the next cool way to tell it, between the London, New York, and Los Angeles offices it just never stops. That’s the beauty of soccer, too, the well will literally never dry up when it comes to interesting ways to look at the game.
Your social media has a lot of Cosmos posts, fan much?
NEW YORK COSMOS CHAMPIONS. I love the club, its my team, my local side, the team my dad used to go see in high school when he didn’t even really care about soccer. It’s a wild, strange, sometimes agonizing club but it’s the only one I’ve got.
What do you think of the Cosmos' last couple of years? Specifically, NASL crashing, the year in NPSL
There’s no question that being a Cosmos fan has been beyond difficult, USSF’s ridiculous decision to de-sanction the league was the start of most of a new era of existential dread but it wasn’t really anything new, just a new look. I’ve been part of Cosmos fan groups going back to maybe 2010 or 2011 be it online or here in the city, and even back then the whole identity of this club and its fans has been “resist to exist” - from the very first decision to go to NASL, to the Seamus O’Brien ownership dipping on us essentially overnight, to Rocco saving the club at the 11th hour, the desanctioning, the NPSL season. If you look at just the sporting side of Cosmos you’d imagine we’d be the happiest fans in the world, but the reality is, no successes we’ve had on the field haven’t been coupled with hardship off the field. I truly love this club, it’s the only one I’ll ever support in the US, but I do long for stability. For me, the potential for stability is in place with ownership and interest, but so long as the structures of US Soccer are in place as they are, and as long as Cosmos are even perceived as a threat to the two other franchises in town, everything will be a battle, not really for wins, goals, trophies, promotion, whatever - but for the right to exist as a soccer club. That’s pretty insane isn’t it?
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Founders' Cup?
I’m genuinely very excited for Founders Cup in 2019, kind of going back to the last question an elaborating more, when you have such a crazy club situation off the field, the fans who support this club are die hard. I mean, really die hard. Founders Cup will be an awesome league for die-hard fans, I think there’s serious potential for Cosmos, Detroit, Chattanooga, the Miami clubs, Oakland and the rest to really create something truly different in a US Soccer landscape that I think is desperate for some creativity. With that said, this isn’t going to be easy, and I don’t say it lightly that I think NPSL and its clubs are going to have to do just about everything right for this to last. It’s new, experimental, it will be received with hostility from most of US Soccer, it has more ways to fail than it does to succeed, but I think from the league office to the individual clubs and even the owners and ideas that exist in the rest of NPSL’s structure, there are some brilliant minds. The right people are involved, let’s see what they can do.
Thoughts on the pro league NPSL is putting together? What role do you see the Cosmos playing in that?
As for the Cosmos role in the future of NPSL, I think New York Cosmos brings with it a degree of credibility, I’m of no illusions that we’re a massive world-beating club at the moment, but I do recognize that our name is famous and carries weight. Not just the 70’s and 80’s Cosmos either, my Cosmos, the Cosmos of Marcos Senna & Giovanni Savarese & Danny Szetela left a lasting legacy and I think bringing that to NPSL and the league’s long term visions will be a very big boost. But no single club is going to be able to make or break NPSL, just like the amateur league, its a group effort, it should be owned and operated by the clubs, and there should be a collaborative mentality for all members that will strengthen the league and it’s competition.
The lower league landscape in this country is the wild west currently. Do you follow it much?
I follow the lower leagues in the US closer than any other soccer, which definitely makes me a bit of a weirdo in the industry I’m in I think but, whatever, I love it. The lower leagues in the US are absolutely a wild west, things change every year, clubs are launched and folded every year, leagues are changing names, tiers, sanctioning, it’s craziness. The best thing that could happen for the game in this country is for the lower leagues to find some sort of symbiotic system that benefits everyone, I don’t have the answers for how to make that happen, I’d personally love to see a four-division tiered system with gradual promotion & relegation implemented. Will we see it? I don’t know, I don’t know how to influence the Federation, so my solution is to support my local team with my voice and my wallet.
With Copa90, you cover the sport through a global lens. What does this country need to do to become a world power in soccer? What role do you see USSF playing in that transition?
I am a huge proponent of US Soccer making steps to align itself with the global game. I think we need to maintain a uniqueness to our approach here, but I think at the core of things, we need to bring ourselves into reality. I’m cool with the March-November season, I get it, I’m cool with playoffs, they’re fun! But I think in a country like this, with so many cities and clubs looking to find success and relevance in the regional, national, and global game - there has to be a way into the top flight that doesn’t involved a franchise expansion fee and submitting to a closed single-entity league. Cosmos won 3 titles in D2 in 5 years, but I won’t make this about my club, take a look at Louisville City FC. They’ve managed to build an authentic club culture in a city void of professional sports, they’re building a state-of-the-art 10k seat stadium, they’ll continue to grow and eventually they’re going to hit a ceiling. I know that USL has big aspirations and the clubs will grow with the league certainly, but why shouldn’t a club like Louisville, who are now 2x champions, be able to work their way into the next level? Look at Detroit City FC, I’ll regret saying nice things about them when we’re in the Founders Cup together, but what they’ve built has been nothing short of extraordinary. In a few years they’ve built a fanbase that rivals several clubs in MLS, they renovated a public stadium through fundraising, they’ve lured clubs from all over the world to play against them. Detroit City has been successful with little to no help from the system US Soccer has in place, in fact I think their success is directly correlated with their irreverence to it. Treat yourselves like a big club and you’ll become one, the US Soccer system won’t let you move up so they just filled out the space their in, and now everyone’s taking notice.
We spotted your band Morning Comes Early in your social media. How are things going with that?
Thanks for checking out my band! We honestly don’t do all that much anymore, we play a few hometown shows when I go back to Vermont and pack 100 kids into someone’s basement, but the era of playing a lot of shows and doing weekend tours slowed a bit after college. With that said, we still play, we still write, and I think we might put out a few acoustic singles in the next month or so. Stay tuned for that!