alibi.com
Alibi Bucks

Coach K vanquished Bo Ryan's Badgers previously—and again.
ESPN

sports

Duke Wins NCAA National Championship

Wisconsin Giant-killers fall short in final game

By Michael Sanchez [ Fri Apr 10 2015 2:46 PM ]
Wherein Michael Sanchez breaks down a dynamic match-up between the Blue Devils and the Badgers.
Kentucky Wildcats will win it all! … Unless they don’t.

sports

Kentucky's Mad March to Perfection Is On

By Michael Sanchez [ Fri Mar 20 2015 5:18 PM ]
Michael Sanchez delves into the brackets, the seeds, and the highs and lows of this year’s March Madness.
That crazy, crazy catch

sports

Patriots Over Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX

Will all our questions ever be answered?

By Michael Sanchez [ Fri Feb 6 2015 4:45 PM ]
Michael Sanchez recaps the game, the heartache and the weirdness of another year of sportsball.
The controversial and entertaining Richard Sherman at a recent press conference

sports

The Big Game Is All Set

Enjoying everything that goes into a Super Bowl Sunday

By Michael Sanchez [ Mon Jan 26 2015 12:46 PM ]
With the big game almost upon us, Michael Sanchez recaps and plans ahead.
Officially the WisePies Arena … but you can call it whatever you want.

sports

Rio Grande Rivalry Resumes

Lobos win and the Pit gets a new name

By Michael Sanchez [ Fri Dec 5 2014 3:56 PM ]
Challenges on the heels of a win for Lobo men’s basketball, plus the Pit’s renaming brouhaha.

sports

A Funny Lady Tackles a National Obsession

Susan Cooper's great compromise

By Michael Sanchez [ Thu Oct 2 2014 12:32 PM ]
Albuquerque author Susan Cooper wanted a funny, informative book about football. She discovered she’d have to write it herself.
Lobos in a pre-season game against the Air Force Academy

sports

Lobo Men's Soccer Back to the College Cup?

Looking to improve on last year's impressive season

By Michael Sanchez [ Fri Aug 29 2014 1:59 PM ]
It’s a new year, Lobos men’s soccer. Time to shine!
L to R: Sol FC GM Larry Espinoza, Carlos Bracamontes, Carlos Valderrama and Sol FC president Ron Patel
Michael Sanchez

sports

International Legends Cup Is Coming to Albuquerque

… If they can find somewhere to play

By Michael Sanchez [ Tue Aug 5 2014 1:56 PM ]
Sol FC’s all set to bring World Cup players to Albuquerque in the International Legends Cup—just as soon as they nail down a venue.

sports

Summer Alternatives

Sports to enjoy right now

By Michael Sanchez [ Sat Jul 26 2014 8:00 AM ]
With slim pickings in the sports department, late summer is a good time to check out the games that get crowded out at other times of year.
Sol FC

sports

Albuquerque's Newest Team: The Sol FC

By Michael Sanchez [ Tue Jun 24 2014 9:49 AM ]

After Team USA's incredible win last Monday night, the country seems primed to love soccer again—right on time.

And since local is the best reflection of the national, this is an apt time to mention that Albuquerque is developing their own semi-professional soccer team, the Sol FC.

In an exclusive interview with the Alibi, Sol FC General Manager Larry Espinoza shared his vision for the future of the team in Albuquerque, reveled in a bit of local pride and reflected on the beginning of this year's World Cup and this new venture in the 505.

The Sol opened their inaugural season on May 3 in Las Vegas, playing against the Mobsters of the USL Premier Developmental League (PDL). Before that, though, there was a lot of work before the season began—and before the team was even formed. Espinoza says that he and Ron Patel, president of the team, have put in the work, but they haven't been alone. The team runs with the help of an extensive network of volunteers: everyone from high school students to a social media guru, running both the official Twitter account as well as their Instagram.

Albuquerque Sol FC may be merely a fourth-tier team this year, but Espinoza says the attendance in our fair city is smashing the competition. “The average [attendance] for PDL is 200. Our first home game, we had more than our five opponents’ previous games combined.” Not surprising, given the documentation of fans' desire for a local, professional soccer team.

However, the transition up the ranks of the PDL obviously will not—and cannot—happen overnight. Espinoza says the plan is to continue to move up the ranks: “Probably not next year, but maybe the year after, really make a push to go USL Pro.” That, however, will involve getting a 5,000-seat stadium into the picture. So the team and its affiliates plan to go before the New Mexico State Legislature. “We'll do our homework. We'll go before the legislature again this February. We believe we'll get the money. There's a lot of things that have to be included to build an MLS team. We believe we can build that.”

The biggest signs that this team is already a success, though, can't be counted, unlike attendance figures. Nor can those successes be summarized as succinctly as Espinoza's repeated afirmations. The true success of the team shines when you get to see a game in person, where you'll hear the PA guy 'sponsoring' yellow cards with bail bonds companies and hear about a highlighted charity at each game. The intensely personal feel of both the physical and mental spacemakes this a truly Albuquerque team.

That local spotlight will grab an even bigger stage at the last home game of the season on Saturday July 12. Espinoza claims, “If you played soccer in Albuquerque, you know the name Pat Grange.” Grange was a local soccer legend, whose tragic diagnosis with ALS led to his untimely death at 29 years of age. ESPN showcased his story recently. The game on Saturday, July 12 will be dedicated to Pat Grange and the Albuquerque Sol FC will retire his jersey. Espinoza says he's in talks to make sure Grange's parents are guests of honor. And the charity the Sol will be partnering with for their last home game? The ALS Association.

As a great way to celebrate the legacy of soccer in the city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico, the Sol FC's last home game stands head and shoulders above any other options. And, while you're at the game, think about what this team could mean for the future as well.

The Sol have five home games remaining, all of which are played on the Ben Rios field at St. Pius high school. Tickets can be obtained at the gate for $10 on game day. Children's tickets are only $5, and they can both be bought ahead of time online, but you will pay a handling fee.

View desktop version