The last time Puerto Rico had a professional soccer team was in 2012, when the Puerto Rico Islanders played their last season. The Islanders had won Caribbean Football Union Club championships, but in their later years were unable to play in their soccer stadium due to renovations and attendance at their games in an alternate facility plummeted. They announced that the were sitting out the second half of 2012, then that they would be sitting out all of 2013, and finally that they did not have the funding they needed to play in 2014. The North American Soccer League dropped the club.
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, whose father was born in Puerto Rico, is bringing a new pro soccer team to the Island. Puerto Rico FC will be the name of the club, and it will play in the Division II North American Soccer League. Play is expected to begin next fall; right now, the club is scouting for players, as well as coaching staff and other workers.
Anthony trains in Puerto Rico during the off season, and has invested in basketball courts in Puerto Rico through his charitable foundation. However, he is also a soccer fan, and says that he had noticed a lack of professional soccer even though the sport is increasing in popularity in Puerto Rico as in the rest of North America.
Anthony remarked that the Islanders had been a competitive team, but that much of the funding had come from the government. Cuts in that funding made it difficult for the Islanders to continue. Anthony approached the Islanders two years ago and has been working to get the team back into the league and to build a new team. His goals go beyond sports, however.
“I think it’s more about building affordable housing around the stadium, building the town and the city back up, bringing more jobs to the island,” Anthony was quoted as saying in an ESPN interview. “It’s more about bringing the island together and bringing more awareness to the island.”