The Quails of Temecula FC find themselves in the midst of a fierce battle in the NPSL Southwestern Conference this season. Currently in 5th position, four points back of San Diego’s Albion Pros for the final playoff spot, Temecula have displayed a keen sense of grit through the first half of the campaign, combining competitive aspirations with the philosophy of building from within, playing an attractive brand of soccer, and truly getting the community involved.
We sat down with Temecula FC Owner Brandon Jantz to discuss the happenings of his club in 2017.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Brandon, thanks for joining us. Tell us what’s new with Temecula FC.”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC):“Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here. Something I would say is new for Temecula FC is consistency. We’ve really got an added focus on bringing stability and consistency to our organization. In the past, there have been good moments with the club, but we’ve never really had that consistent way of doing things successfully. We have finally stabilized. We’re finally looking at investors for our club, even looking at land purchases for the future. We’re taking the program a little farther everyday.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Tell us a little about Temecula FC in this NPSL season of 2017.”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “This season has definitely been entertaining. There are better teams in the league this year than ever before, or at least since we’ve been in the league for the past four years. There’s been growth not only in numbers, but more importantly in quality. It’s a lot different than it was not too long ago. I honestly feel like the team that we have this year may have won the league in years past. Now we’re in the middle of the pack trying to make it to the playoffs. That’s a testament to the quality of the Southwestern Conference.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Brandon, what would you say you’ve enjoyed most about this 2017 NPSL season thus far?”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “What I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing supporters get involved. We’ve got a proper supporters group now. They call themselves the Dirty Birds. They’re great. They’re loud. They come up with some very, let’s just say interesting chants. They have a great time and have definitely become a part of this club. They see their gameday job as being that 12th man for us. We’ve always had decent support when playing at Linfield, where we returned to for this season, but this is the first time we’ve had a group of supporters that can really make a difference.”
I’ve also enjoyed watching this squad. We have some experienced guys who are making a major impact, but our core is very young. Every last guy is dedicated. They are all putting in the effort and working hard for the good of the club. That in and of itself has been enjoyable to watch, and it makes me immensely proud. We’ve got a mixture of guys with families and full-time jobs, young up and coming players with very bright futures, and even a few teenagers directly from our youth program. More than just making me proud, these guys are making the city of Temecula proud.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Who have been some of the standouts in your eye on this Temecula FC team this season?”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “Steven Lamberta is definitely someone that should be spotlighted. He has been one of the better players for our team. We’ve talked about that mix of experience and youthfulness, and there’s one TFC youth player who has played every game for the NPSL team this season. His name is Juan Verde. While he might not be necessarily a top player for the senior team, for him to be in the U-18s just last year and now be a guy battling week in week out in the NPSL, it’s really impressive. There are so many other guys that deserve praise. Brent Reis, our goalkeeper, has done a really good job. We wouldn’t be in a playoff hunt without him.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “What would you say is your main focus for the rest of this NPSL season?”
Brandon Jantz: “Well, I don’t wanna say we’re looking too far ahead into the future, because we are barely halfway thru this season. But there a lot of serious hopes are that we can continue what we’re doing, and I don’t just mean this season. We’ve got 17 teenagers in the NPSL squad this season! Our youth is coming up big time. It’s showing. These kids have the skill and motivation to go even further. We’re gonna be sending some more kids over to Europe for trials as soon as the season is over. Some will stay. Some will return. Some have ambitions to play in MLS. We’ve also just got some great local kids that could very well be around this club for a decade and beyond. These are young men with great ties to their community. We want to continue giving them a place to play locally, something to be proud of and work for. We want to give them an opportunity to represent the city of Temecula and play for their friends and families, all while giving them the best competition possible.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Tell us a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes these days with Temecula FC.”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “We moved our ‘behind the scenes’ location from a glorified garage to Main Street. We’ve a great little headquarters, which includes our main office and a store where we sell merchandise and just spread the word about our club to the local community. We’ve got a TV up in the office, always with football matches on from around the world. It’s like a second home for us. We’ve even got supporters who come by just to have a few pints and hang out. We’re putting in 60-70 hour work weeks, but we’re lucky to be doing it. In so many ways, it’s not work. We’re growing a club and doing something good for the city of Temecula.
I’m really adamant about the community involvement aspect of the club. A lot of people here haven’t had the opportunity to go to Europe or Latin America and see what football clubs are actually all about, especially lower league clubs and non league teams. A lot of people don’t get to see what those clubs mean as community organizations. We’re trying to build that here in Temecula.
We’re reaching out to local restaurants, bars and pubs, and local businesses of all types. We try to reach out to other youth soccer clubs in the area, but, well… everything else has been great.
We also took three of our top coaches to England this year. We went and watched and studied Premier League teams and non-league teams alike. I wanted them to see how it all ticks, especially in terms of the community involvement. With the way the game of soccer has globalized, you’ll have people here in the states who will say “I’m a Chelsea fan” or “I’m a huge Man United fan”. But what does that person really know about the club they support when they just see the TV? As much as the game has grown globally, its almost regressed in a local way, as so many of these people that call themselves fans of a club have no idea what the community aspect means.
We want to bring that community aspect over here. That’s why I started this. We’re getting better here, but we’ve got a long way to go. We obviously can’t afford to take every family to Europe, so we gotta bring that here, and instill that community based mindset into our families and friends. We’ve got support! We’ve got a group of people who’ve truly dedicated themselves to Temecula FC. One of the next steps is acquiring land and building a stadium for us to call our own. That’s obviously a very expensive project, but it’s a dream that we want to make come true.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “You’ve spoken all about the community aspect of your club. Tell us a little more about the community your club calls home,and how the traits of the community play into your mindset in growing the club.”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “You look at Temecula, and what we’re talking about seems pretty simple. It’s a relatively small town, perfect you think for a community driven organization. But there are also over 500,000 people within a 20 minute drive of us. Those places in the UK that we’ve studied closely, some of them have 25,000 seat grounds in towns that barely surpass a 50k population. We’re not like that. It’s so spread out here. But we want to be like that, and we’re figuring out ways to do it.
I look at a club like Detroit City FC very much as a model for what we’re doing. They are run like a true community organization. Detroit is a massive city, but they’ve localized what they’re doing, and brought it back to the neighborhoods. It’s difficult to do that here in Temecula and Southern California.
I’ve been following the lower leagues here in Southern California for a long time. Nobody is getting 4-5 thousand people to games. It’s just not there yet. But it’s growing. What we’re trying to do is get the young kids of our community involved, first off making sure that they can play the game we all love pretty much for free. We’re trying to then get them out to our games, helping them to appreciate the game of soccer. We want to make them love our game experience. Then they’ll talk about it. They’ll tell their friends. Then down the line, maybe they’ll bring their kids to our games. We’re trying to think on a generational level with Temecula FC.
Local business support has been extremely helpful, but we still need to do more to work with all the local soccer people, people who actually care about growing the game, not just their own pocket books. Young kids need to watch live soccer, not just on TV. There’s something powerful about seeing it LIVE!”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Let’s expand on that idea a bit, the power of a kid seeing live football.”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “At my last check, there are close to 20 “3rd” or “4th” division soccer teams in Southern California. There’s a possibility in almost every individual area within the region for kids to watch live soccer. Clubs need to encourage their kids to go watch whatever is available in their communities. Clubs should be encouraging kids to see the game LIVE. We’re trying to get that instilled in everybody here in Temecula.
It’s tough. One of the real problems for me is that so many people who identify as ‘soccer supporters’ don’t know what it actually means to be a part of a club’s community. There’s such a massive disconnect these days. Whether it’s Manchester United, Man City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, or others. The insane commercialization of everything, I think, has somewhat disconnected the clubs from the people that care about them most. Clubs are losing touch with the people in their own home neighborhoods.
There are some cities here in the states and some people in this country that are doing it right, and I want to support all of them. What we’re doing here in Temecula, this is a locally driven dream. We need to educating young people and getting them involved in the club at all levels. You can call us grassroots, or whatever other terminology you see fit. We are what we are. We know that we are a small local club and we are here first and foremost for the people of our community. That’s what we are trying to achieve.”
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): “Brandon, it’s been great talking with you. Anything else you’d like to share before we wrap this thing up?”
Brandon Jantz (Temecula FC): “It’s always great chatting with SoccerNation. Thanks again for all the great work. The last thing I’d like to say to your readers is to get out and support your local team, whatever team that may be. Support them! It’s a sad truth that the only soccer that most people see is youth games or professionals on television. Connect with your local team. Connect with the players, the guys who are pursuing a dream or in some cases holding onto a dream. When you go out and you buy a shirt or a scarf for a local club, it means the world to them, not only to the players and coaches but to the men and women putting in countless hours of work behind the scenes. Buy a ticket. Buy a season ticket. Spread the word in your community. Support live local soccer.”