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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Owners of Force Sports Want to Bring Pro Soccer Back to Cleveland

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 10:59 AM

click to enlarge clevelandforce.jpg
In a story published this weekend, Crain's Cleveland reported that brothers Greg and Shaw Abrams, owners of Force Sports — in whose facilities someone you know probably plays adult-league soccer — are taking concrete steps to bring professional futbol back to Cleveland.

Reporter Kevin Kleps said that the Abrams brothers have acquired the rights to the "Force" name from local developer Scott Wolstein. The Cleveland Force played professional indoor soccer at the Richfield Coliseum from 1978-1988. The franchise was hugely popular at the time, routinely drawing larger crowds than the Cavs, Kleps reported.

With the naming rights, the Abrams brothers can now resuscitate the franchise as an outdoor team in the United Soccer League (USL), a second-tier league directly below the MLS, while also drumming up business for their six regional facilities, which bear the FORCE name, and subsidiary soccer clubs.   

In a wild, if only loosely related, fact: The Canadian National Team has only ever made the World Cup once, in 1986. Three members of that squad's roster were Cleveland Force players: striker Carl Valentine, midfielder Mike Sweeney, and defender Pasquale de Luca. How about that?

According to Kleps, the USL would prefer that all clubs have soccer-specific stadiums by "the end of the decade." And the earliest the Force could return looks to be 2020, provided a venue (with a minimum of 5,000 seats) has been acquired or constructed. The Abrams brothers told Kleps that they are in that process and that various sites, including in downtown Cleveland, are being considered.

Cleveland currently has another minor league team, Cleveland SC, which competes in the National Premier Soccer League — unofficially a fourth-tier league — and plays home games at John Carroll's Don Shula stadium. Its season is wrapping up. The team plays Friday in Ann Arbor in a playoff matchup against Ann Arbor FC.

And hey, look, its jerseys are now available at Cleveland Clothing Company locations.

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