COAST CITIES — The game of soccer and the opportunity to play professionally continues to grow throughout San Diego all with the help of the San Diego Flash, one of two professional teams in the county. The Flash originated in 2008 with CEO Clenton Alexander and Eran Sinai, a former MLS player. The team had spent the 2010 season playing as an exhibition team for charitable organizations when he was joined by Warren Barton and Eric Wynalda. In 2011 the Flash joined the NPSL (National Professional Soccer League), where they became the Southwestern Division Champions with a record of 12-1-1, losing their last game of the season to the Sacramento Gold.
Alexander, originally from Orange County, conceived the idea to start a professional soccer team after making trips to San Diego to receive dialysis. Following a medical referral for heart issues, he ended up moving to San Diego. It was then that he decided to start up a soccer club.
Using his background of 25 years in investment banking, Alexander began looking for investors based on the fan-owned model, similar to what the NFL’s Green Bay Packers use. The company he started, SDSP Soccer Marketing, Inc. owns the team along with SDSoccerTV, which highlights the game of soccer throughout San Diego. The company is also working on several online soccer ventures.
“You can’t be a one-trick pony,” Alexander said. “You have to have several revenue streams coming into the company…unfortunately soccer teams are not the money-makers that we’d like them to be.”
But since the team’s inception, Alexander described the progress of the company as a magical ride.
This season the team has a record of 6-1-0. The Flash is lead by head coach Warren Barton, a former star player of the Premier League and the English National Team, and a current analyst for the Fox Soccer Channel. Ninety percent of its players come from San Diego County.
All of the Flash’s players, including their core group of players, Duatch “Dutch” Jock, Sergio Valle Ortiz, Lucas Carlsson and Andy Ortega came to the team following radio ads that Alexander placed in 2009, calling for players to try out.
Typically, the club holds two tryouts a year, one before the season begins and a second following the end of the season.
The league’s level of competition is such that a lower division team can beat an MLS team, Alexander said. “It has happened before.”
The NPSL has 49 teams nationwide and is divided into regional divisions.
Within the division, the Flash carries on a natural rivalry with a second San Diego club, the San Diego Boca FC. A separate rivalry that looks to be developing is with the Fullerton Rangers, based in Orange County.
“We’re undefeated on the season,” Alexander said. “We’ve beaten every team in our division.”
On June 2, the Flash will take on the San Francisco Stompers (1-2-2) at home at Del Norte High School.
In July, the Flash will also host the national championships this year.
The club is also offering youth teams a chance to have their team photos inserted into season passes this year. Visit sandiegoflashsoccer.com for more information.
San Diego Flash vs. San Francisco Stompers
Where: Del Norte High School, 16601 Nighthawk Lane.
When: Saturday, June 2. Game time is 7 p.m.
Cost: Youth fans (14 and under) free; Seniors, Military, Students (with ID) $3 at the gate; Adults (18 and over) $10 at the gate or $8 online at sandiegoflashsoccer.com.