Appalachian FC hosted its final open tryout April 3 at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex as the club prepares for its season opener.
“It’s been a long but fun process in terms of the player recruitment, the next phase now is finalizing the roster and making sure we got a good introduction to the training schedule as we lead into the first game,” head coach Dale Parker said.
The players warmed up in four groups for training drills. One group was a goalkeeper kicking and catching drill and the three remaining groups were passing and dribbling drills for the outfielders.
The tryouts hosted two sets of eight versus eight scrimmage matches on half of a regulation soccer field for 15 minutes, with a water break afterward. Another set of eight versus eight scrimmages occurred for 15 minutes with two sides switching fields. After the time passed, the players received another water break. The tryouts finished off with a traditional 11 versus 11 on a full regulation field.
The tryouts brought in 40 players, reaching the maximum number of participants for the second time. Ten of these players were called back from the first open tryout, with the remaining 30 coming from a mix of different backgrounds.
Christian Romero from Thomasville was one of many players who tried out for the inaugural squad.
“I’m trying to get to the next level. I’m working hard, putting in the hours, and hopefully you know, I got dreams I wanna achieve,” Romero said. “The league they are in seems competitive, so we were like ‘alright, let’s go see what it’s about’ and yeah, I enjoyed it, it was a solid 9.”
Riley Rittle, a Boone local who is a senior at Watauga High School, also tried out for the squad.
“The team is great, even if a couple of people including myself don’t make it, it was just a fun experience and the team is going to be great,” Rittle said. “It’s amazing that it is coming to Boone with App State men’s soccer team getting cut last year, it’s fun to have another team out here to cheer for.”
Only a handful of players from the open tryouts will make the squad, according to Parker, as they are only looking to fill in the final roster pieces that are missing.
“Overall it’s been a good two tryouts, I think this one, we really hit the peak in terms of level compared to the first one,” Parker said.
Appalachian FC currently has 12 players on its roster, which will be finalized in the next week or two, Parker says. Most players have signed behind the scenes, and six of those players are former App State men’s soccer players.
“I’ll never say never, but I find it unlikely at this point to recruit players outside of tryouts,” Parker said. “We hit a good number of players if you add in the players that we saw also today. Unless players drop out or a superstar we don’t know about that reaches out to us, I don’t see us doing much more recruitment.”
May 7, Appalachian FC will host its first home game against the Tri-City Otters, kicking off the King of The Mountain youth soccer tournament that is being held May 8 and 9.
“I’d much prefer the first home game to be a league game to get everybody happy and to get everybody buzzing about the season, but at the same time, it’s also the opening day of the Youth Tournament in the area which is massive,” Parker said. “If we can get people coming out and provide good soccer entertainment in the evening, I think it’s great for the kids to come out and watch.”
Appalachian FC will play two exhibition games against the Tri-City Otters on May 7 and 9. The first game will be played at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex and the second game at the TVA Credit Union Ballpark, home of the Tri-City Otters at Johnson City Tennessee. The exhibition games are designed for Appalachian FC to experiment with their squad where they will find out what their best starting eleven is according to Parker.
“The philosophy will stay the same, but with the players we have, we need to find the right formation and right balance,” Parker said.
Appalachian FC will have its first game in club history on Saturday, May 1 against Metro Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky in their National Premier Soccer League opener.