Phoenix FC is no more.
But USL PRO in Phoenix is still alive.
Under completely different owners. And a completely different brand.
It was revealed Thursday morning, a day after ODFCnews.com reported the club will have new ownership, that Phoenix’s new USL PRO franchise will be Arizona United Soccer Club and it will be owned by 44-year-old marketing and public relations guru Kyle Eng, who lives in the Valley. The team’s website is arizonaunited.com. The club will play in 2014 and keep its home matches at Peoria Sports Complex.
Arizona United SC’s crest:
Arizona Soccer Marketing, LLC, which was given the franchise rights by USL PRO earlier this off-season and owned by the Phoenix FC’s interim president, lasted just three months as Phoenix FC’s owner and the club never played a match under the company’s tenure. The old ownership group’s motive was always to sell either the majority of or all of its rights to someone else.
The initial ownership group and club management is completely out. Phoenix FC posted a goodbye letter on its website on Wednesday.
The change in ownership happened quickly. Eng didn’t file Arizona United Soccer Club, LLC with the Arizona Corporations Commission until last Friday. (Eng also had to file a “Potential Name of Conflict” because there is a youth soccer club in the Valley of the same name.)
Eng owns a successful marketing company, Arrowhead Advertising, which is headquartered just steps from the Peoria Sports Complex. The company has been around for more than 10 years, growing to 80 full-time employees. Phoenix soccer fans will take comfort with the fact that one of Arrowhead Advertising’s main focuses is sports marketing and that Eng, an Arizona State graduate and former public relations director at Fox Sports Arizona, has a background in sports marketing.
Arizona United’s Director of Soccer Operations will be former Duke men’s soccer player (and captain) Kevin Stevenson, who is the sports marketing account manager at Arrowhead Advertising. Stevenson will handle all dealings on the soccer side, including player signings and club salary cap. He has major connections in the industry; with current professional players and, naturally, his father — Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures. MLS appointed Gary Stevenson, who has more than 30 years of industry experience including executive positions at the Pac-12 Conference, NBA, the PGA TOUR, and the Golf Channel, last year to oversee all commercial and revenue areas for MLS and Soccer United Marketing, including media/broadcasting, marketing, content and digital.
Eng and Gary Stevenson were part of the group that started the Golf Channel.
Also a member of the management team is Ron Gilmore, director of marketing and communications of the Arizona Youth Soccer Association. Gilmore is one of the main leaders in Valley soccer and has developed relationships with several local, regional and national businesses from his time establishing corporate sponsorships for AYSO’s after-school program and scholarships.
Phoenix FC lasted less than two seasons, limping through a tumultuous first season on and off the field.
Phoenix’s USL PRO franchise needed a reboot. And it received one.
And now, your Moment of Zin(edine Zidane):