Kickers FC open chase for 2019 Challenge Cup on Nov. 11

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND -- The Kickers FC, part of the Tropics Soccer Club, will open a new chapter tomorrow when they play in their first game of the 2019 Challenge Cup.

Two of the top adult amateur soccer leagues sanctioned by the Florida State Soccer Association, the Central Florida Soccer League (CFSL), and the Florida Suncoast Soccer League (FSSL) have joined forces to help grow the sport.

The CFFS Challenge Cup will put the top four teams from both leagues in a regional Champions League format competition which will provide further competition for teams in both leagues but also as a starting point for hopefully a state-wide competition.

 “Both the CFSL and FSSL have high aspirations to build the game within our state. With ultimately a state-wide competition the vision, this is an invaluable first step to reach that goal,” said Giovanni Taliaferro, CFSL’s Vice President.

This is a marriage of two of the United States Adult Soccer Association’s (USASA) Elite sanctioned Premier Leagues (currently only 16 in the country and, along with the APSL in south Florida, only three in the state of Florida) that feature some of the strongest teams in the entire state. Some of those teams include the FSSL’s Sarasota Premier and Kickers FC. 

Sarasota Premier advanced to regionals after a fantastic showing at the prestigious Alarcon State Cup. The Kickers finished 4th in the nation last year, the third straight year they advanced to the National Amateur Cup Final Four.  From the CFSL, you may see teams like defending CFSL champions CFFC Spartans who qualified for regionals and the defending Florida Classic champions, Orlando Storm, a team that features former US Men’s National Team legend, Eddie Johnson.

According to FSSL President Chris McMaster, “Florida Suncoast Soccer League is proud to join with Central Florida for the 2018 Challenge Cup. This competition will be the first ever intercostal cup battle of I-4. By working together and forming this partnership, not only are we providing another level of competition for our members, but this is now the only competition of champions in the entire state.”

The competition will take place in Lakeland, starting tomorrow and will conclude in February 2019 during the period when both leagues are not in play. The format will be two groups of four teams, each containing two teams from both the CFSL and FSSL. Each team will play three games with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinals and the winners meeting in the championship game.

CFSL’s President Eddie Loyola had this to say, “Both the CFSL and FSSL are energized for this higher level of competition. Not only will we be able to showcase the best talent in our region, but we are forming a partnership that will continue to blossom over time.”

Sunday, the Kickers FC will meet the Ragmuffins at 11 a.m. at Lakeland's Southwest Complex. The other 11 a.m. game will have the Orlando Storm meeting the Florida Mutiny. Prior to that, the two 9 a.m. games will feature Dynamo FC against the OFC Wolves and Sarasota FC against the CFFC Spartans.

For more information, go to and click on the Challenge Cup link.