Saturday, May 25, 2024

Minor league soccer to roll into Denton County

Lantana resident Damon Gochneaur will give Denton County residents a new team to cheer for by next year. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

Denton County residents will soon have a new sports program to cheer for when the Denton Diablos minor league soccer team rolls into the area in 2019.

Lantana resident and founder of Aspiro Agency, Damon Gochneaur, owns the Diablos and said he came up with the idea of starting the organization based in part on his own interest in the sport of soccer.

“I’ve been a season ticket holder for FC Dallas for five or so years, and a season ticket holder for the Fort Worth Vaqueros,” Gochneaur said. “Since attending my first Vaqueros match in 2016, I’ve always thought a professionally-run minor league soccer team, along the lines of the Vaqueros, could do real well and be warmly received in Denton.”

Gochneaur grew up in Highland Village and attended the University of North Texas and said that Denton County just seemed to be a natural fit for a soccer team.

“Besides being eclectic and passionate, Denton has a unique position of still maintaining a uniquely small town feel, even with just shy of 150,000 people,” Gochneaur said. “We’ve seen teams with a much smaller population bases have tremendous success, so add in the insular feel and community support I expected Denton would show and it seemed like a no-brainer to us.”

Gochneaur grew up playing in the Lewisville Soccer Association, graduated through select soccer to play for the Dallas Texans and Dallas Comets in the mid-1990’s, then went on to captain the Marcus High School boys soccer team, before graduating and initially accepting a scholarship to play soccer at Missouri Valley College.

The National Premier Soccer League announced last Thursday night that the Denton Diablos FC has joined the league as an expansion team. The club will begin competition in the South Region’s Lone Star Conference in 2019.

Gochneaur said that given the region the Diablos will represent, he is quite confident his team will be competitive from the beginning.

“Along with the community support we anticipate, the wealth of soccer talent between the ages of 18-22 was one of the main reasons we settled on Denton specifically,” Gochneaur said. “With proximity to graduating talent in Flower Mound, Denton, Frisco and other surrounding cities, fielding a competitive team and finding capable players is the least of our concerns to some degree.”

When it comes to his ultimate objective for his team, Gochneaur is not lacking in ambition.

“As ostentatious as this sounds, the goal of the Diablos is to positively impact the lives of young men, and eventually women, through the game of soccer,” Gochneaur said. “I’m ambitious and firmly believe that the future of American soccer is at the grass roots level. Growing the game at its most important entry point, the youth, and then providing them continual opportunities to chase the dream of playing professionally is so important.”

Gochneaur said he expects the Diablos to eventually have its own youth academy that doesn’t charge for players to participate; and, “starts to shift the paradigm of ‘Pay to Play’ that plagues U.S. soccer currently.”

“What’s the goal of the Diablos?” Gochneaur asked. “Simply put, to improve the future of U.S. Soccer.

This isn’t about revenue, or valuations. It’s about creating something bigger than myself— about creating the world I want to see and be a part of, and it’s about giving back to the game, my country and my community in the best way I know how.”

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