CEDAR RAPIDS – Jacob Johnson shakes his head and chuckles when he thinks back a year.
Twelve months ago, the former Cedar Rapids Washington and Coe soccer player was teaching at Washington and serving as a soccer coaching assistant at both schools.
Saturday in Milwaukee, Johnson will suit up in a Premier League of America game for the Cedar Rapids Rampage United, the second of two professional soccer teams to begin play in Cedar Rapids over the last year. The Rampage arena soccer team concluded its debut season in February.
“It’s awesome to see,” Johnson said. “I’m someone who has lived in Cedar Rapids his whole life. I’ve played soccer my whole life … To have something where kids have an opportunity to get involved and it’s community-based and they have something to support that’s part of Cedar Rapids, I think that means a lot to the community. That will start to show beyond just soccer, too.”
The Premier League of America is a 12-team professional outdoor soccer league with franchises in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
The 10-game season runs from May through July and begins Saturday at the Milwaukee Bavarians.
“I’m not so concerned yet about the win as to have a good game,” Rampage United Coach Hewerton Moreira said. “I want the players to feel comfortable. I want the players to understand their system.”
Moreira has assembled a roster that includes several players from the indoor team. Having both an indoor and an outdoor pro team based in the same city allows players to train together year-round, build chemistry on and off the field and make a more significant impact in the community.
“It’s an honor to lead these guys and I’m excited to do it for the town and the city,” team captain Gordy Gurson said. “Hopefully we can get some results. … We’re trying to keep professional soccer here year-round for all these fans.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Gurson and Antonello Paradiso are forwards who also played indoor in Cedar Rapids, as did defenders Robert Acosta, Sam Guernsey and former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep Charlie Bales.
Johnson is one of three Rampage indoor midfielders (Bobby Hurwitz and Alex Megson) to sign with the Rampage United, while reserve Patrizio Paradiso is the only goalkeeper that stayed.
All of the returners have responded well to the direction of indoor-player-turned-outdoor-coach Moreira.
“It’s weird,” Moreira said with a laugh. “I still have the player mindset and now I understand my old coaches, why they would jump on the field and explain what they want is because, in their head, they want everybody to be on the same page.”
The Rampage United will play their home games at Coe’s Clark Field beginning May 28 against the Minnesota United Reserves.
Gameday roster — Rainer Pires, GK; Charles Bales, CB; Robert Acosta, CB; Samuel Guernsey, RB; Jonnathan Pachar, LB; Jacob Johnson, CM; Kevon Farquharson, CM; Alex Megson, RM; Bobby Hurwitz, LM; Kenan Malicvic, F; Gordy Gurson, F; Patrizio Paradiso, GK; Teng Deng, CB; Jaccob Bjornsen, CB; Fernando Pacheco, RM; Alejandro Pacheco, LM; Jeff Kelly-Rosales, LM; Antonello Paradiso, F
(Home games in CAPS; all home games at Clark Field)
May 14 — at Milwaukee Bavarians, 5 p.m.
May 20 — at Madison 56ers, 7 p.m.
May 28 — MINNESOTA UNITED RESERVES, 7:05 p.m.
June 4 — MADISON 56ERS, 7:05 p.m.
June 10 — MINNEAPOLIS CITY SC, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – DES MOINES MENACE (friendly), 3:05 p.m.
June 25 — CROATIAN EAGLES, 7:05 p.m.
June 26 — at Croatian Eagles, 4 p.m.
July 10 — MILWAUKEE BAVARIANS, 3:05 p.m.
July 16 — CKS WARTA (friendly), 7:05 p.m.
July 17 — at Minneapolis City SC, TBA
July 24 — at Minnesota United Reserves, TBA
Aug. 8 — AAC EAGLES (friendly), 7:05 p.m.
l Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org