How We Got Here



I suppose if you’re on this site and gone so far into it that you’ve clicked on a link to get to this letter, some of what I have to say here will be no surprise to you, the reader. I do think it important, however, to share how this site began, what we hope it will be, and why we think it important to invest our time, energy, and money.

This site was the brainchild of three guys: Ryan Stallings, myself, and Spencer Baugh. I put myself awkwardly in the middle there because chronologically it makes sense. We’ve all been friends for some time now, unified by a love of lower tier soccer and snide remarks. Ryan and I appeared as guests on a podcast, representing our supporter groups (The Red Watch and Notorious FCG, respectively). After the show was over, Ryan shot me a text asking why we had never done a podcast together. I couldn’t think of a good reason why not, though time might have been a great answer. At the time of his question, I was involved with two shows on a weekly basis, leaving little time to add another project.

So we kicked around a lower tier podcast idea for a couple of days and decided that idea was too small. What we wanted to do was make this into a media organization, entirely devoted to covering lower tier soccer. UPSL and NPSL were the obvious choices of leagues, as the clubs we rooted for were in those leagues. So we ran with the idea, what would the organization look like? How would it function? What would type of content would we produce? And as we began answering those questions, we realized we needed another voice in the room. Spencer and I had been on a podcast together for almost a year so he was an obvious person who we could count on to work his ass off for free. Podcasting isn’t exactly a lucrative art form. So the three of us formed Protagonist Soccer.

Up until this point, few sites have taken a stab at effectively covering the NPSL and UPSL, for various reasons. There’s an assumption that no one cares, that there’s too many teams, that people only care about first tier soccer. All of those assumptions are bullshit. People care because they are at matches all over the this country every weekend. Sure, there’s a lot of teams, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth covering. And MLS is its own league with its own fans, plenty of people support lower tier clubs.

For too long the lower tiers of American soccer have been almost entirely ignored by the major sports sites. The only sites devoted to covering the leagues are those paid for and run by the leagues themselves. There is little independent journalism focused on the lower tiers, so much of what readers get is a box score, a scoreline, and some photos. But I think there’s rich storylines all over the country, in every club, being missed by this marginal coverage. Protagonist will be there for those storylines. We will shine a light on those clubs and their work. They are important, they matter, and we will be there.

One of my favorite teams in American soccer history is the Fall River Marksmen. They played in the 20s and 30s in the American Soccer League. They were an amazing bunch of American soccer players, but because the soccer media coverage was so sparse at the time, there is little known about the players, the tactics, or coaches. This was the best soccer team in the country for a decade and we have nothing but some newspaper clippings and boxscores. It saddens me to know that all that history has evaporated in time, because no one thought to save it. This will not be the story of lower tier American soccer in 2018.

So the realities of covering two national leagues (and a couple of regional leagues) are facing our little start up site. We’ve built a network of writers from all over the country, guys who already love local soccer and want to see it grow. We’ve utilized streaming site to catch matches too remote to visit in person. Our team works for free for the time being, because we love the sport. We love it enough to give our our time and effort to spreading the word of what is happening across this country on local fields in every neighborhood. This is our passion so we will press on and deliver the best soccer coverage that this country, these clubs, and you, the reader, deserve.

All of us at Protagonist Soccer would encourage you to find a local club to support. They need your dollars, your voice, and your support. If this site can encourage anything, I hope it is that. All soccer fans across this country need to stand up and support local soccer. It’s not enough to say you care, put your money where your mouth is. A pyramid is only as strong as its base.

Dan Vaughn
Editor and Founder


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