Irving FC may be a new addition to the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) in the Lone Star Conference but are no stranger to the Dallas soccer scene and their level of competition.
Head Coach Ben Clarvis begins his second year with the club with high hopes and expectations for Los Gallos to be a competitive side within the Lone Star Conference.
Coach Clarvis brings experience to his team after beginning his playing career with Plymouth Argyle FC Academy and played collegiate soccer at Midwestern State University earning NSCAA All-Region honors as a defender in 2015. He played in USL PDL with King Warriors and Midland Sockers before being an assistant coach with the Denton Diablos and now assistant men’s coach at Austin College and Academy director at AYSES soccer club.
“I really just looked at [coaching] as, ‘I love it and just have a passion for it,’ and so I went to get some experience,” Coach Clarvis said about coaching. “I got a call one day from Irving [FC] and was excited of their vision and what they were going to do and decided to take on the challenge. I loved every moment of it, it’s definitely challenging, but you learn and grow from it everyday.”
One of the goals that Irving FC hopes to accomplish is to grow the game within their community and give their players an opportunity to play soccer at the highest level. With the promotion in the NPSL, Coach Clarvis and the club see the resources and competition within NPSL will allow Los Gallos to accomplish their goal.
“[The owners] really wanted to take things to the next level and saw soccer growing … with the likes of the Vaqueros and Diablos [the Irving FC owners] figured it was a better move for the brand and the players in general to get exposure to the next level.”
Despite the halt that the COVID-19 pandemic had on soccer, the NPSL has made efforts to grow and the inclusion of Irving FC is an example of this growth.
“Even in the last five years the amount of opportunities that players have now is better than five years ago which is great,” Clarvis said about the growth of soccer at lower levels. “When I was looking for summer leagues to play, there were zero and you had to go to LA or other places. Now you have five or six which is great.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake the soccer world, Irving FC will play at RL Anderson Stadium in Mansfield before securing a home within Irving. Fans of Irving FC may have to wait for a proper home stadium but they don’t have to wait for their team to be competitive in their new conference.
Irving FC played in the Roja League where they finished just short of a playoff spot in 5th place. In Roja League Invierno, saw Los Gallos finish in 7th place. Despite missing the playoffs in both editions, the experience against NPSL competion will be invaluable in their first season.
Those familiar with NPSL know that there is a flux in the availability of players due to various college and travel situations. There will be a variety of youth international players from the United States and abroad that will supplement the collegiate roster. The biggest task that Coach Clarvis has is using his players to form a system that capitalizes on the strengths of the roster.
“The biggest thing that I want is players with energy and commitment and I really want them to have the freedom, to attack, and to express themselves,” Clarvis said of this team’s play style. “I don’t want to be the coach that takes away the freedom and what makes soccer fun. We will have a certain way we want to play but there will also be a lot of freedom in the final third.”
Given the experience of Clarvis and the soccer environment within the Metroplex, Los Gallos not only appear to be competitive but have the potential to become another familiar name within the local soccer scene.