At 7 p.m. tonight in Johnson City, Tenn. Tormenta FC will kick off for the first time in club history.
Tormenta is Statesboro’s first minor league franchise and will compete in the 67-team Premier Development League — a league that annually sends many of its stars to professional careers in Major League Soccer.
While the club has been in operation since last summer, players recruited mainly from colleges around the country were just arriving in town at the beginning of the month and have been hard at work preparing for their first game.
“We're very hungry and motivated,” Tormenta coach Ben Freakley said. “But the whole league is that way. We want to make sure we're working our hardest to prove ourselves on the field.”
As far as formations and tactics go, both Tormenta and tonight’s opponent – the Tri-Cities Otters – could be playing things by ear. Not only do PDL rosters change drastically from season to season and make scouting difficult, but the Otters are also a brand new franchise playing their first ever game.
One thing is sure — Freakley expects his squad to put plenty of emphasis on its defensive play.
“We tried to keep the structure (of practices) similar so we could accelerate concepts that we feel are important,” Freakley said. “Defense is a big concept. Motivation brought us here, but discipline will bring us success.”
As for how the flow of the game goes, Freakley said that he is confident his team is embracing objectives, but that it will take the conflicts and mistakes that come from live competition to truly see what his squad is doing well from the get-go.
Tormenta FC has a grand total of 0 wins and 0 losses to its name, but it is already racking up the fanfare.
In addition to the hundreds of season tickets that have already been sold and the waves of support from the community that have already been voiced for the new franchise, the team was cheered on by a visiting crowd from Sally Meadows Elementary School out of Vidalia as it made its way to the bus Thursday for the long trip to Tennessee.
Local fans wanting to watch Tormenta's first ever contest will have a few options. The game will be streamed live on tormentafc.com. For those wishing to bring more of a party atmosphere to their viewing experience, The Clubhouse will be hosting a viewing party that is free to attend beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Tormenta will host its first home game May 21 at the Georgia Southern soccer field as it takes on the Carolina Dynamo.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.