Lucas Teixeira named coach for new team -- Tropics SC -- to debut this spring in UPSL

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – In order to better facilitate player development within the organization, the Florida Tropics SC have announced a new franchise under the club umbrella in the United Premier Soccer League. The new franchise will go under the name “Tropics SC” and kickoff in spring 2019. 

“This move simply allows us to use all the players under our Tropics umbrella and continue to develop together, year round,” Tropics CEO Dr. Iakovidis said. “The UPSL is a little less restrictive when it comes to eligibility, so in the long run, this will help the Tropics franchise become stronger and even more competitive than we have ever been.”

Dr. Iakovidis noted, however, that the move does not change the goal of bringing a USL League One franchise to the Lakeland area in the coming seasons.

The Tropics SC are in addition to the Lakeland Tropics, which will start their third season in USL League Two – formerly the PDL – on May 11 at Bryant Stadium.

Current MASL Florida Tropics defender Lucas Teixiera has been named head coach. A final schedule will be released in the coming weeks, but the seven home games will either be on Friday nights or Saturdays at Lake Myrtle Sports Park in Auburndale. Some members of the current Florida Tropics indoor team are expected to be in the Tropics SC roster.

The UPSL was founded in 2011 and currently includes more than 300 teams nationally. The UPSL is the fastest growing pro-development league in the US, with 400-plus teams targeted for the 2019-20 Season. Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated and is responsible for maintaining UPSL minimum standards at all tier levels.

United Premier Soccer League Florida Division Manager Christian Vallejos said, “The UPSL Florida Central Division continues attract strong clubs with quality teams at all levels, and we are pleased to welcome Tropics SC and their ownership group, led by Dr. Iakovidis and Andrew Ross, to the league for the 2019 Spring Season.”

UPSL teams are all eligible for Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the leagues affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The Lakeland Tropics will play in their second Cup tournament with a first-round game set either May 7 or May 8.

“Joining the UPSL allows us to continue to grow the development side of our organization and set us up to be successful at the professional level of the outdoor game. We feel the UPSL is a perfect stepping stone for some of our younger players and a good opportunity to trial new players who may fit well into our system. It is also a good fit for some of our indoor players who want to train and play year round but are not the right fit for our USL League Two team due to the age and international player restrictions,” said Tropics General Manager Andrew Ross.

Ross also added the organization has been striving to get more competitive games to allow fans more opportunities to view the clubs top players and prospects, and that the UPSL was a good fit with both the fall and spring seasons.

“Like with all of our teams, our goal is be competitive from the start and a force to be reckoned with. We look forward to our first game this spring,” said Ross.

The Tropics SC are expected to play in the UPSL's Pro Premier Florida Central Division, which includes teams in Orlando, Lake Mary, and Winter Haven. Windermere based America's Soccer Club won last year's division crown. The league plays a similar number of games as the League Two, which plays 14 regular season games.