The Denton Diablos are back for their 5th season of play, and their 4th in the NPSL, with a new look inside and out.
Taking the reigns from the touchline is Armando Pelaez, a veteran coach and former Venezuelan youth international who served as an assistant coach for the then-Dallas Burn from 2001 through 2003. Pelaez has spent years coaching in high-level youth soccer and lower-division pro and semi-pro soccer in the region.
The Diablos also return to their part-time pandemic home at Texas Woman’s University’s Pioneer Soccer Park, the site of their 2021 Winter Roja League title.
On the field, the Diablos are sporting a radical new look, celebrating the very city they call home in the most literal way – by wearing a map of Denton across their chests.
There’s excitement to be found everywhere, with team owner and legendary beard Damon Gochneaur describing Pelaez as “the best fit for the Denton Diablos for 2023” and Pelaez himself sharing his desire to “be out in the community as much as we can.”
On the stadium front, Denton Harbingers founding member Randy Hart described it as “coming home again, right where we should be”, with plenty of space not just for the new fans but for the Harbingers to bring the noise.
The new Denton map jerseys, courtesy of new kit partner Lexa Sports, have also drawn a warm reception, with another Harbingers member Courtney Lindenthal describing them as “the next best thing to hoops” for a new look. The new jerseys also feature new sponsorship partners in Peterbilt Motors and Denton GOAL.
Roster-wise, the Diablos continue to grow and change due to their already strong reputation along the path to pro soccer, with only six returning players from the 2022 season. Anthony Powell, Antonio Perez, Chris Torres, Jakob Fiol, Oscar Romero, and William Hitchcock comprise the veteran contingent for the 2023 Diablos, joined by a thorough contingent of fresh local talent signed after an extensive set of tryouts.
While Powell and Perez marked the first of the returnees to take the field on Sunday night against Fort Worth, it was Diablos rookie Aubry Eason (ex-FCD Premier and Lone Star HS) who stole the show, scoring in both halves to propel the Diablos to a 2-0 win over the Vaqueros in front of a packed stadium.
While almost everything has come up roses for the Reds, one long-standing aspect of the Diablos matchday atmosphere was conspicuously absent Sunday night – the signature red smoke of the Harbingers. Harbingers member Randy Hart described a dispute between team management and the athletic department of Texas Woman’s University as the root cause of the issue, with the Harbingers unfortunately caught in the middle.
“We don’t know what to do, we offered to show them how safe it is, how even kids can use it just fine, but they weren’t interested,” Hart said.
The Diablos return to action on Saturday, May 20, hosting Corinthians FC of San Antonio in more NPSL Lone Star Conference action, and are preparing to host their first international match against Tigres UANL Reserves on June 19.