MountainStar Sports Group sets USL landing spot in El Paso

Alan+Ledford%2C+president+of+MountainStar+Sports+Group%2C+announces+a+USL+team+coming+to+El+Paso.

Adrian Broaddus

Alan Ledford, president of MountainStar Sports Group, announces a USL team coming to El Paso.

Adrian Broaddus, Copy Editor

United Soccer League (USL) officials and MountainStar Sports Group owners announced today that El Paso will join the soccer league’s expansion efforts starting in the 2019 season.

MountainStar Sports Group, who also owns and operates the El Paso Chihuahuas, set El Paso as the fourth team to join the USL for the 2019 season along with Memphis, Birmingham and Austin.

The team will start its inaugural season of play come March of 2019 and will plan for about 20 home games, which will be played in Southwest University Park until an official stadium has been built.

“After today, we hand this to you El Paso and ask you to help build this,” said Jake Edwards, president of the USL. “What an exciting day it is for our league and sport. On behalf of the sport and entire USL family, it’s a privilege to be here and welcome El Paso to the USL league.”

Joining Edwards in presenting the team to the media on Wednesday were MountainStar Sports Group President Alan Ledford, owners Josh Hunt, Woody Hunt, Paul Foster and Alejandra De La Vega, El Paso mayor Dee Margo and ESPN 600’s Steve Kaplowitz as the emcee for the event.

“Since our inception, improving the quality of life in our region and promoting economic development have been our core objectives,” Hunt said. “We’re very proud to bring this high level of professional soccer to El Paso and to be a part of the USL.”

The USL is a Division II soccer league with 33 teams in the U.S. and Canada. El Paso will be in a rival division along with the likes of the Las Vegas Lights FC, Phoenix Rising FC, Rio Grande Valley FC and San Antonio FC, according to Edwards.

“I’ve seen the impact sports can have on a community,” Ledford said. “El Paso is a great example of that. Sports brings communities together.”

Margo advocated for a stadium downtown due to the revitalization process, but ultimately says it’s up to MountainStar Sports Group to see where the stadium will be held.

“From a splash park to downtown revitalization, this truly sets us apart from everyone else,” Margo said. “I’ve said El Paso is a hidden gem. Having a USL team in our community will help us share our culture with others.”

Some long-term goals for the local club will be to start up a youth affiliated club to develop young players and to engage with the local community, per Hunt.

Since this will be a USL-specific club, a MLS connection is now not in the foreseeable future, per MLS commissioner Don Garber.

The club is taking $50 seat reservations at 915-235-GOAL, online at elpasousl.com or can be purchased at Southwest University Park.

Potential branding announcements, team name and the inaugural season will be in the process, according to MountainStar Sports Group.