KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A group bringing soccer to the city has launched a website to get input about what the new United Soccer League franchise should look like and be named.

The team will be part of the USL’s League Two beginning in 2022, a league that allows college-level and elite high school players with professional aspirations to participate in high-level competition while maintaining NCAA eligibility. The group aims to later join USL League One, a fully-professional league with paid contracts.

The group launched a website for input about what the team should look like and be named.
Everyone who fills out a survey will be invited to a virtual forum on February 25 to give input on the next step of the branding process.

The team is a project between the USL and five business leaders in Knoxville who say it’s been two years in the making.

Drew Mckenna is a partner of Knox Pro Soccer. He says Knoxville is perfect for a major soccer team. Mckenna and his team say USL League 2 is not the destination but a good start to build a fan base.

“I say that some people are lucky enough to be born in Knoxville, and some people have to earn it. Right now, I’m trying to earn it. We’re starting at the bottom of the American soccer pyramid because we want Knoxville to be a part of it from the ground up.”

Drew Mckenna

A main staple of the team will be involved with youth soccer here in East Tennessee. All five partners participated in programs in their childhood and say that’s how their dream for this team got started.

“Youth soccer has such an incredible culture here in Knoxville and we’ve been filling up our calendars with meeting just building relationships and our knowledge base and understanding of the rich history that’s here and the different communities that are involved and our focus is really contributing to that culture,” said Mark McComas with Knox Pro Soccer.

Mark McComas, Knox Pro Soccer

As of now, the team doesn’t have a permanent home, but they could play at the proposed Smokies baseball stadium in the Old City, if it comes to fruition.

Even with that big “if,” the soccer league says what Knoxville has to offer is what will make this venture successful.

“The idea of professional soccer in Knoxville is amazing, we’re excited. We know the fans are excited but we’re excited too. From a league office perspective, it’s kind of a perfect fit, we look for three things primarily, a committed ownership group, a strong appetite for the games, and a good venue that the fans can be proud of. And Drew and his team, the ownership group, have checked all three of those boxes so we have no doubts, we will be tremendously successful.”

Ryan Madden, vice president of communications USL Knox Pro Soccer

The group put together a fan survey to get local input on what the club should be called, what colors it should wear and where they should draw inspiration for the club’s logo.

Questions in the survey include:

  • What makes you most proud of Knoxville?
  • Describe Knoxville in a few words. What colors represent Knoxville?
  • Any inspirations for the name or crest?
  • Any team name ideas?

The club has also outlined its three pillars:

Knoxville Proud – We’re proud of Knoxville, and we plan to make Knoxville proud. A club that is connected to the community cares about winning, and operates professionally is what our city deserves. Civic Citizen Soccer clubs can positively affect their communities well beyond the pitch. We want to use the Beautiful Game as a force for good across Knoxville. Everybody’s Teammate -Knoxville has a strong youth soccer community.  We want to support, celebrate, and advance that culture at every turn.  We’re teammates with all of Knoxville Soccer!

There are more than 80 teams in the USL League Two, including Tri-Cities FC in Johnson City. USL League One began in 2019 and currently features 12 teams including Chattanooga Red Wolves SC.