FC Kendall blows whistle on operations

FC Kendall will attempt to win the APSL's spring/summer season title. Photographic by Matthew Bunch.

Sad news this morning for the local soccer world. Established local club FC Kendall has decided to cease operations, possibly permanently. Club president Mauro Grignola broke the news on Twitter this morning.

The club began life as Uruguay Kendall FC in 2008, renaming last year to FC Kendall. Throughout the last decade the club has been at the forefront of soccer in Miami. They reached the second qualifying round of the U.S. Open Cup in 2016 and 2017, finally qualifying for the first round of the main tournament in 2018 where they gave a good account of themselves in a 5-2 loss to Miami United. During qualifying for the 2018 competition they were forced to travel twice. First to central Florida for a 4-0 win over Orlando Storm and then a punishing trip to Tennessee in the final qualifying round to take on Nashville United Soccer Club, which they overcame by four goals to two.

High price of success

Making those kinds of trips highlights the stark reality of operating a lower league club in the United States with little to no support from the U.S. Soccer Federation. A fact that Grignola took aim at in another tweet.

Despite the frenzy surrounding the imminent arrival of an MLS franchise to Miami, Dade County has a poor track record of supporting local grassroots soccer. There has been a staggering turnover of clubs in the area in recent history. Both the APSL and more recently the UPSL have failed to gain any traction with local soccer fans. Attendances at these games has been pitiful for a part of the world that frequently claims to love soccer despite the vast majority of the games being completely free to watch. Without the local support and with no roadmap to play at a higher level, it’s clear FC Kendall felt they have hit the ceiling in Miami with nowhere else to go.

The highlight of the club’s history was an excellent 2017 season where, along with qualifying for the 2018 Open Cup, they captured an APSL title. It remains to be seen what this news means for the APSL, as the 2018 fall season still has not kicked off and it looks like two of its leading teams will not participate in 2019. And for now it looks like Sunday night’s game was the last Clasico de Kendall for a while.

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