Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 1, 2014

Free soccer clinic, 'friendly' on tap for King's Warriors tonight

EAST RIVER — A couple of soccer teams with similar profiles will take a break from their focus on divisional play this evening to provide instruction to youth soccer players, and then play a “friendly” match against each other, at East River Soccer Complex.

The Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors of the Premier Development League, which now calls the field home, and the Charlotte Eagles will come together for the free clinic at 5 p.m. at East River. The instruction is scheduled to span 45 minutes.

Both of the teams play in the United Soccer Leagues, though the Eagles are in the Pro Division ranks. Their match at 7 p.m. will not count in the standings.

Participants in the youth soccer clinic will receive a free ticket to the match. For others, the regular ticket prices for King’s Warriors home games are in effect, ranging from $5 to $8.

Both the local club and the Eagles are operated by groups devoted to Christian principles. The King’s Warriors is one of the soccer outreach efforts of the Nehemiah Group, headquartered in Forest Hill, W.Va.

The Charlotte, N.C., team is owned by Missionary Athletes International, according to its website. Founded in 1992, it is one of the United Soccer League’s oldest North American clubs.

King’s Warriors head coach Scott Reitnour said, “The Eagles game is an opportunity to strive with a like-minded organization to compete enthusiastically. In other words, to strive together with the Eagles in God, in Theos, and for people to experience the joy, and the heart, of like-minded competition.”

The King’s Warriors are one of three Premier Development League affiliates of the Eagles, and the closest to Charlotte. Connections between the two teams run deep.

King’s Warriors special consultant and media relations director Tim Donelli was the Eagles’ first general manager, serving the team from 1992-1997. Reitnour was also a member of the Eagles organization in the 1990’s.

Dr. James Blume Jr., the founder and president of the Nehemiah Group, attended the first-ever Charlotte Eagles game, when they debuted in Charlotte as an expansion team in the then United States Interregional Soccer League.

Last year, the Eagles advanced to the Pro Division’s championship game in Orlando, Fla. With over 20,000 fans attending the game at the Citrus Bowl, the Eagles were defeated by the Orlando City Lions.

With over 220 wins, eight National Final appearances and two USL National Championships since 1993, the Eagles are one of the United Soccer Leagues’ most storied and respected franchises.

The team “remains most of all dedicated to providing role models to inspire and give hope to those in their local, and global communities who have none,” according to a news release.

East River Soccer Complex will be a very busy place today. Two Virginia high school regional playoffs take place earlier in the day, both of them involving the conference championship teams from nearby Graham High School.

• • •

The King’s Warriors (1-1-1) are coming off their first loss this season, last Saturday in Charleston. They outshot the division-leading West Virginia Chaos 22 to 7, but the home team got a goal from Jake Szabo in the 89th minute of the 90-minute match to win 1-0.

Reitnour said, “We were pleased with the team’s performance through 88 minutes. We were unproductive in the final third, and credit to the Chaos for finding the late goal.”

Gideon Asante took seven shots for Southern West Virginia, and goalkeeper John Ramses Thomas had four saves. Bijan Gloston had 11 saves for the Chaos.

Attacker Jake Ramsay of the Warriors said, “We did a great job of building up possession and transitioning and getting into the final third, but we just couldn’t find that final pass or finish one of our many shots to put us up.

“We have to work on our finishing and connecting our passes in the final third to get someone through to goal. We had plenty of chances throughout the game and if we would’ve capitalized on them it would have been a different game, but that’s how soccer is sometimes.”

After three trips to Charleston since their founding in 2012, the King’s Warriors still have not won — or scored — there against the Chaos.

• • •

Including today’s friendly, the King’s Warriors will have played four contests in an eight-day stretch by the end of this week. The next two after today are on the road, playing the River City Rovers in Jefferson, Ind., on Thursday and traveling to Ohio for a rematch with the Cincinnati Dutch Lions on Saturday evening.

Southern West Virginia will return home on Saturday, June 14, to play the SC United Bantams again at East River.

“The nature of the PDL is a very short, tight, compressed season,” Reitnour said. “The nice thing for us was one game per week for the first three weeks.”

“What that allowed us to do was to idealize our work week, the way it’s really supposed to be done. It allowed us to establish a rhythm, and a training tempo, with our players.”

He added, “I think this year’s team is very deep, and we’ll see how deep, as we head into the heart of our schedule.”

— Contact Tom Bone at tbone@bdtonline.com

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