Sparks Set to Fly: Lansing Ignite FC preps for its inaugural season at Cooley Law School Stadium
Back in October, the Lansing Ignite FC was unveiled to the masses by an ensemble of familiar faces, including Mayor Andy Schor and Lansing Lugnuts and Ignite FC owner Tom Dickson. The new club team, one of and a founding member of the upcoming USL League One, is now days away from taking the field. The team is set to kick its inaugural season off, in pursuit of becoming the league’s first-ever champion, when they travel to take on fellow founders the Richmond Kickers on March 30.
Since being announced as a team, when details were bare-bones, a lot has changed. From selecting a head coach and defining a schedule to welcoming the first of new talents and hosting open tryouts, the team has slowly begun taking shape and creating an identity of its own.
USL League One Takes Shape
When unveiled, the Lansing Ignite was one of only a handful of teams that would comprise the entire roster of USL League One teams. Many of the teams are spinoffs of existing teams while others are new entities entirely – as is the case for the Ignite FC. Teams come from throughout North America and include the Chattanooga Red Wolves, FC Tucson, North Texas SC and Toronto FC II just to name a few.
“The release of the schedule is another exciting step as we get ready to kick off the 2019 season in the USL League One,” said Jeremy Sampson, league vice president and general manager. “We begin the season with two matches on the road, but the planning has already begun to Ignite the entire city of Lansing for our first home match against Richmond on April 13.”
In its inaugural season, the league will be comprised of 12 teams, with each competing in roughly 28 games. The Lansing Ignite FC is set to host its first home game ever at Cooley Law School Stadium on April 13 when they have a rematch of the opener with the Richmond Kickers. With a finalized league schedule, Lansing Ignite team officials will also play host to three
additional friendly matches. These will include contests against other teams outside of the USL League One.
Show Your Support
Tickets for the opening-day event, as well as the rest of the season’s matches, are on sale now. Many fans have already begun preparing by purchasing season ticket packages to also become a member of the team’s Spark Society. Fans are also encouraged to become a part of The Assembly Line, an independently organized supporters’ group for the Lansing Ignite FC. According to its site, assemblylinesg.com, the support group exists to “energize Cooley Law School Stadium on match days and to create the most intense home field advantage in the league for LIFC.”
Fresh Team, Fresh Faces
Another area in which details remained scarce upon announcement was personnel. Who would play? Who would coach? Luckily, many of those questions have been answered, while other specifics remain unclear. As originally announced, Sampson, former owner of the now-defunct Lansing United, will take on the role of general manager. More recently it was announced that the team had found a head coach in another Lansing United alum, Nate Miller. The 32-year-old has served as the head coach of the Spring Arbor University men’s soccer program since 2013 as well as the head coach and general manager of Lansing United, a former member of the Premier Development League, North America’s premier pre-professional soccer. Building on a rapport of coaching in various leagues and the existing connection each has with the community at large, Sampson and Miller will potentially be a major asset when establishing a foundation for the new organization as it searches to find its legs.
In addition to a new coach, the team has also scored a handful of young talent to comprise the inaugural roster, including Xavier Gomez, Rafa Mentzingen, Kyle Carr, Nathan Lewis, Steeve Saint-Duc, Kyle Ihn, Rhys Williams and Kevin Coiffic. While these players are making the move from other leagues and clubs to provide experienced support, the team also sought out new players for its roster during an open tryout session in late January.
More information on selections and the full roster may be available come this article’s publication. To stay up-to-date and to reserve your seats for one of this year’s inaugural season matches, be sure to visit lansingignite.com.