FGCU Men’s Soccer has wrapped up another successful spring season. While many programs are just digging themselves out of the snow the Eagles have been playing teams at the highest level for months. As in years past, FGCU players had the opportunity to face several professional teams of various levels.
Thanks to our warm Florida weather, teams from around the world come here to train in the winter. “Each spring season we try to expose our players to all levels of play,” said coach Butehorn. “This season we were very fortunate to schedule a game against European, MLS, NASL, USL, and the under-17 US National teams.”
In what has become a yearly tradition, FGCU began their spring with a match against the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer. The game was a spirited affair that was broadcast live on YouTube to a worldwide audience.
In February the team was afforded the opportunity to play BK Häcken, a Swedish professional team based in Gothenburg. This team plays in the Allsvenskan (Swedish Premier League) as well as a being a Europa League qualifier. “The speed of play in this game was something our team had never seen before and it was a tremendous learning experience playing against a roster riddled with players who had represented their country in national team games,” sais coach Butehorn.
The growth of professional soccer in the United States was on display as the Eagles welcomed VSI Tampa Bay FC to the FGCU Soccer Complex. VSI Tampa Bay FC is a USL Pro League franchise entering their first year of competition. FGCUfans enjoyed a very competitive match that showed plenty of signs of the growth the team made this spring.
Hosting the second consecutive home match of the spring, the Eagles found themselves playing a very familiar opponent. The Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL have become a yearly fixture in the spring, as well as in our fall preseason schedule. That has some distinct advantages, one of which is that players and coaches can see measurable growth within the team. showing how far this young team has come from the last match in August 2012.
The opportunity to play Orlando City SC of the USL Pro League presented the young Eagles program with the unique challenge of facing a team that has very public aspirations of becoming the next franchise in MLS. Utilizing a farm team type relationship with Sporting KC, Orlando City was able to field a lineup riddled with MLS talent. It was an entertaining affair and one that is sure to be rekindled in the years to come.
Wrapping things up for the second year in a row, FGCU faced the US U17 National Team. This gives us the unique opportunity to measure our young roster against the up and coming stars of US Soccer. The majority of players on the field are only 1 or 2 years apart and it really gives a good indication of the value of a strong college schedule and the ability to play professional teams. Butehorn added, “Having the opportunity to dictate play for the majority of the match was a nice reminder of what a valuable experience the professional games can be in the spring.”