Tri-Cities Alliance Football Club
The boys in blue and white from Kennewick, Washington split their matches between Columbia Basin College and Neil F Lampson Stadium last year. For such a relatively new club, it nice to see that their trophy case is already filling up from winning tournaments all around the state; the 2017 La Liga de Hermiston Invitational, the 2017 SOZO Sports Copa America in Yakima, and the 2018 Eddie Craggs Memorial Evergreen Cup, have been claimed by the Lions. We were able to get in touch with Evergreen Premier League of Washington club Tri-Cities Alliance FC recently and Mr. Zach Sansom was kind enough to answer our questions about the soccer organization from Kennewick, Washington.
When were you founded?
The story behind Tri-Cities Alliance FC is really the story of three people from vastly different backgrounds coming together with a common goal: elite adult soccer in the Tri-Cities community. We have three co-founders: Zachary Sansom, Jared “JD” Loveless, and Ramiro De La Mora.
When I (meaning Zach) first moved to Tri-Cities, I was looking for something to replace the soccer fandom I left behind. I had left behind Charleston, SC and the USL Charleston Battery team, which I enjoyed watching immensely. After getting settled into the community, I was looking for an adult team to follow here – but none existed. There were several Sunday leagues and a team up in Yakima, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I did some research and pitched the idea to JD to start our own elite amateur men’s team. He agreed, but noted one significant problem: neither of us knew anything about putting a team together. I was a fan and JD, though he played in high school, was now a soccer referee. We asked around the Washington soccer community and every reference came back to one individual: Ramiro De La Mora, who was running the Pasco Soccer League at the time.
So, we invited Ramiro out for coffee in December of 2016 and pitched him our idea. I offered him a ticket to an amateur league if he provided a quality team. Knowing each other for all of a couple hours, we shook hands and immediately set to work.
We were officially founded in January of 2017.
Have you always been in the same league?
Technically, yes. However, we started out as a traveling tournament team for the 2017 season. We made it known our intention was to join the Evergreen Premier League early on and in May of 2017, Bellingham United FC invited us up to play them in a preseason friendly. That match was our first official game as Tri-Cities Alliance FC.
That year we entered three state level tournaments (two in Washington and one in Oregon), winning two and finishing runner-up in the other. That was enough to get us on the radar as we were voted into the EPLWA as the 9th team in October of 2017. Our inaugural EPLWA season was the 2018 season, where we finished runner-up in our division.
What's your club goal; long term/short term?
Short term goals for us include, first and foremost, becoming a financially self-sustaining elite amateur soccer team. This will allow us to survive in the cutthroat sports industry. Additionally, we are looking at launching a women’s team within the next couple years in an effort to address the lack of elite adult women’s in our community.
Long term, we will explore options for the club. Maybe we work towards developing an academy or youth program. Perhaps we seek membership into a “higher” league such as the NPSL or USL. Time will tell. Right now, we are focused on short term goals.
Are you politically active, or just try to stick to soccer?
Right now, our focus is soccer. That isn’t to say we are apathetic to the issues this country is facing. However, we need to establish ourselves as community leaders before we try to lead.
Have you always had the same badge?
Since we were officially founded, yes. However, we drew inspiration from Ramiro’s club team, Alianza – which also inspired our team name. (I have attached both our current logo and the logo of Ramiro’s former club team)
What are the elements and what do they mean to you?
Our crest was designed by the HIGHLY talented, Nick Budrewicz. He is gaining quite a reputation for designing amateur and lower level soccer team crests!
Our crest was designed to represent our community:
ROYAL BLUE: One of the club’s traditional colors, the main color of the crest represents loyalty, power, and integrity – the founding principles of TCAFC.
AQUA (LIGHT) BLUE: Another traditional club color, the aqua blue of the crest represents the rivers that have come to define the Tri-Cities area.
GREEN: This color was chosen to represent the agricultural influence that is still an ever-present part of the Tri-Cities.
ORANGE: Tri-Cities is renowned for, above all else, being incredibly hot. The orange represents the sun and heat the area is known for.
WHITE: White was chosen to represent a new and fresh beginning for adult semi-pro soccer in Tri-Cities.
CIRCULAR SHIELD: Representative of unity and totality and the circular relationship between the community and the team.
RISING SUN: The rising sun symbolizes the warm climate of the region, while the three shades of orange represent the three main cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland.
LION: The traditional lion emblazoned on the crest is the embodiment of our ethos: pride, passion, and courage.
TRADITIONAL FOOTBALL: The traditional football represents the past. TCAFC wouldn’t be TCAFC if it wasn’t for the players, coaches, teams, and fans that came long before us.
RIVERS AND FIELD: The three aqua blue waves represent the three local rivers (Columbia, Yakima, and Snake). The green field pays homage to the agricultural industries (and the workers) that gave birth to the Tri-Cities and continue to shape our community today.
Is there a club legend--somebody who moved on to a higher level?
As cheesy as it sounds, every one of our players are legends. They are the original elite amateur soccer team in our community. Regards of what fate has in store for them or the team, they can always say they were the first.
However, to answer your question, not yet. We do have a young player that was able to land a scholarship with Indiana University East (Lenin Guzman, #21 with us and #17 with UIE). We also have another young player (Alex Sotelo, #9) that was invited to a tryout camp hosted by FC Cincinnati, the newest MLS expansion franchise.
We sincerely hope these two young men are just the start for what we can offer the community: a chance. We want to provide an avenue for players in our community to be able to use their soccer talents to achieve their dreams past the high school level.
Do you have a rival and how seriously do you guys take that competition?
This is an easy one. It’s Yakima United FC of the EPLWA. A lot of our players used to play against their players in club league play. When we were announced as a new member of EPLWA, we were able to bring a few of players who played for them home to Tri-Cities. Consequently, they were able to snag a few of our players from our 2017 squad. There’s a lot of pride between our two squads and neither wants to lose to the other - though, we went 1-0-1 against them in 2018.
Who was your highest scorer last year?
Lenin Guzman paced our EPLWA squad with 5 goals this year. He also earned EPLWA Offensive Player of the Week honors for Week Five.
Some clubs really enjoy the spotlight and are trying to grow a presence/interest while other clubs aren't worried about generating a buzz--focused on the football... where does Tri-Cities Alliance fall in that spectrum?
Man, this is a hot button topic for me! Personally, I get so annoyed when we travel hours to play in front of 50 fans. Or when we travel hours and our fans outnumber the home team fans. It’s ridiculous. A lot of these clubs survive off of their youth teams or charge their players for everything, when they should be focused on building a culture.
TCAFC will always be built around a fan experience. When I started this adventure, we divided our responsibilities. We have one co-founder focused on the team and the players, and two co-founders focused on the business side of the house. That should tell you where our priorities lie. That isn’t to say we don’t care about attracting the best players and improving our squad. We just understand that to ensure long term success, a team needs the community behind it.
Is there anything else interesting you'd like to share?
Just to stay tuned for 2019!