The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 14, 1997, Page 7, Image 7

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    By Darren Ivy *
Staff Reporter
Webster defines a brigade as a
group of people organized to
function as a unit in some sort
of work.
When owners of the Lincoln Bri
gade soccer elub were thinking of a
team name, the owners considered
Webster’s definition.
“We researched different names
and wanted to have a name that rep
resented our team,” said Andrew
Ferguson, who co-owns the club with
his brother Glen Ferguson.
In choosing a name, the two broth
ers drew on the ideals of a traditional
fire-bucket brigade where members
had to rely on one another to succeed
in putting out a fire.
“We want this to be the
community’s team,” Brigade Coach
Brett Mosen said. “We want to be in
volved in the community and develop
local talent.”
Owning the field
Soccer has been a part of Andrew
Ferguson’s life since he started play
ing as a 3-year-old. He has played soc
cer, coached soccer, organized a soc
cer league and in 1990, was president
of the UNL Club Soccer Team.
“I have dedicated my life to soc
cer,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson’s dedication to soccer,
along with that of his brother Glen and
of Robert Dugas, has been the force
behind bringing the amateur team to
When the Fergusons began their
league in Lincoln four years ago, they
said they believed their playing space
could support a professional soccer
Ferguson said he knew what it
would take for a team to succeed be
cause he had been studying the Pre
miere Soccer League for some time,
mostly following the Des Moines
“We saw the potential for a team
here in
He didn’t let this failure discour
age him, though. He contacted the
United System of Independent Soccer
Leagues last year to find out new team
The criteria are:
■ Locating the team in a city not
already occupied by another team.
■ Not locating the team in a town
within a 30-mile radius of another
town with a team.
■ Having a large town to support
the market.
Once Ferguson discovered that
Lincoln met all the requirements, it
was only a matter of time before things
came together to start a new team, he
said. That time came in 1996.
“Everything just came together this
year with the successes of the Omaha
Flames and NU women’s team, along
with the completion of our new indoor
soccer facility,” he said.
The Fergusons didn’t let a second
opportunity to begin a team slip
through their fingers. t
“We decided that if anyone was
going to start the team, it was going
to be us, since we have had a history
of being involved with indoor and
outdoor soccer in Lincoln,” he said.
Once the owners found they could
start a team, they designated the newly
opened, 30,000-square-foot Pitch In
door Soccer Complex as the team’s
home base. The $500,000 soccer com
plex is on Sixth and Hill streets.
A new ball game
The addition of the Brigade to Lin
coln marks the second amateur sports
team in the past two years to call Lin
coln home. Last year, the Lincoln Stars
hockey team made a successful debut.
The success of the Stars has given the
Brigade hope that other sports teams
will catch cm in a football town.
“No one was very familiar with
hockey before the Stars came, now it
seems like everyone is catching on,”
said Chris Redhage, a senior at Lin
coln East High School and an ama
teur soccer player.
Ferguson said he liked the way the
Stars had opened up their home rink,
the Ice Box, to the community for pub
lic skating. He said one of his goals
was to make the Pitch Indoor Soccer
Complex a community gathering
place like the ice rink.
“We hope to have an atmosphere
like the Lincoln Stars have, where the
fans and kids can hang out at the
Pitch and interact with our
^ players,” Ferguson said.
^F Star City Soccer
Ferguson’s many years of
cer experience have given him first
hand insight into how soccer has
changed in the past 10 years.
“When I was playing soccer 10
years ago, our group of players was a
quiet, closed group because soccer
wasn’t viewed as an acceptable sport
and we were made fun of,” he said.
However, since Ferguson’s early
difficulties, soccer has gained national
acceptance. Along with this accep
tance has come an explosion in the
number of people who play the sport.
Here in Lincoln, Ferguson credited
the YMCA with first introducing kids
to soccer, along with the Capital Soc
cer Association and Spirit Soccer
Ten years ago, the Capital Soccer
Association had only five teams and
the Spirit Soccer Club didn’t exist.
Ferguson estimated that in 1987,
1,500 to 2,000 Lincoln youths, adults
and college students played soccer.
After just 10 years, Ferguson esti
mates the number of Lincoln soccer
players has quadrupled to 8,000
people, and the Spirit Soccer Club
alone now has over 70 teams.
Mosen, a native of England, said
that from what he has seen, Lincoln
seems to be very receptive to the game.
“Soccer is big here,” he said.
Soccer got even bigger three years
ago when UNL added women’s soc
cer as an intercollegiate sport, which
gave soccer a boost and provided role
models in Lincoln.
Ferguson said he hopes the Bri
gade will be able to provide similar
results and be a role model for men’s
Redhage, a Lincoln East soccer
standout, said he has faith in the pro
gram. Soccer is already popular with
kids, but it’s the adults who aren’t fa
miliar with it, he said.
“When adults catch on to soccer
like they did with hockey, the sport
will really take off,” Redhage said.
Once the Brigade begins its out
door season, Ferguson said the last
piece of the soccer puzzle will be com
plete for Lincoln.
“We will take soccer all the way to
the top, showing the younger players
how soccer should be played,”
Ferguson said. “It will complete the
cycle from youth leagues up to an
amateur team.”
Higher goals
Some local players have already
gotten in (Hi the excitement by play
ing on the Brigade’s indoor team. Al
though the indoor Brigade team is
winless in three games, the experi
ences have not been all negative for
“I thought of playing on the Bri
gade as a stepping stone for my soc
cer career,” Redhage said.
For Redhage and many other soc
cer players across the country, the
Brigade’s level serves as the first goal
for soccer careers.
“I have been to England and the
level of these leagues is pretty similar
to some of their lower professional
leagues,” Mosen said.
The Brigade will compete in the
We will take soccer all the way to the top,
showing the younger players how soccer
should he played.”
Andrew Ferguson
coowner, Lincoln Brigade
Premiere Amateur Soccer League of
the United Systems of Independent
Soccer Leagues. The 11-year-old
USISL has six levels of competition
ranging from youth to professional
The Premiere Development
League is the highest nationally orga
nized level of amateur soccer in the
United States and the third level of
soccer in the USISL. Only the A
League and Major League, which are
professional leagues, are above it.
The Brigade will compete in the
South Central Conference Premiere
League which consists of four other
teams: Sioux City Breeze, Des Moines
Menace, Colorado Stampede and
Omaha Flames. The Brigade’s will
play 15 regular-season games.
After the regular season ends, the
division winners of the six conferences
will compete for Premiere Amateur
League championship. The winner of
this tournament will move up into the
A League professional tournament.
Coaching to win
Mosen said he hopes the Brigade
will be one of the teams playing in the
post-season playoffs.
inai goal may seem unreasonaoie
to some people, but Mosen and the co
owners are optimistic about playing
at a high level in their inaugural sea
Mosen, 40, came to the Brigade
after coaching two years with the
Nashville Metros, another USISL
team. In just two seasons under
Mosen’s tutelage, the Metros made the
playoffs. Mosen liked Nashville, but
he said he was ready for another chal
“I wanted to coach this team be
cause of the opportunity to jump into
a program that was starting from
scratch,” Mosen said.
While Mosen was coaching in
Nashville, he also was the director of
the Olympic Development Soccer Pro
gram. Before coming to the United
States from England in 1987, Mosen
coached the Middlesex County Foot
ball Association in England.
He started playing semijl&fes
sional soccer in London at 14. After
playing in London for seven years, he
moved to Bermuda, where he played
professionally another four years.
Mosen will have to use the experi
ence he has gained as a coach and as
an athlete to pick players for his 26
player roster.
Mosen said he wants to see the lo
cal players at the March 1-2 tryouts
before he decides how many outsiders
he needs to bring in to make his team
In addition to the Brigade, Andrew
Ferguson said there would be a sepa
rate training team which will practice
with the Brigade. Ibis 16-player team
will be coached by an assistant coach
and will play in some of the Brigade’s
After the indoor season ends
March 2, the new infusion of talent
for the outdoor team could end the
Brigades’ winless record from exhi
bition games against Omaha and
Iblsa, Okla. .
But the start of a new season also
means losing good players, such as
Redhage, who will return to play for
Lincoln East when the high school
season begins.
Moving out and up
After the indoor season aids, the
rest of the Brigade will have a month
to get ready fa* its outdoor season,
which begins with a April 19 game
against die Omaha Flames.
Mosen sees the series between the
names and Brigade turning into a ri
valry, which he said he thought would
‘be good for soccer in Nebraska.”
With the facilities, owners and
coach in place and the roster ready to
be filled, the time approaches for the
club to look into the future.
Mosen said one of the goals of the
club is to eventually move up to one
of the professional leagues, but he cau
tioned that this will oily happen when
the playors are ready.
“We don’t want to try to run be
fore we have learned to walk.”