WNPR

Elm City Express Prepares To Join Hartford In Professional Soccer League

Mar 16, 2017

The idea for an expansion soccer team in New Haven started two years ago over coffee in Brazil.

Zack Henry was with two of his business partners 5,000 miles away at the Mustache Café in the heart of Florianopolis in southern Brazil. One of his partners suggested they should have another soccer team outside of the one they already owned in Brazil.

"Hey, should we look at the U.S. market?" Henry recalled his partner asking. "Yeah, maybe we should," Henry said.

That idea is now a reality, and Henry is the team's owner.

New Haven's Elm City Express will play professionally in the National Premier Soccer League this spring. It will join the Connecticut's other new team, Hartford City FC.

Henry grew up playing soccer. He's now an international businessman and the president of the first team to play professionally in New Haven since 1979. The team will play home games at Reese Stadium on the campus of Yale University.

"We liked the camaraderie and the cooperation among the team's owners," Henry said. "The league's saying is, ‘We compete on the field for 90 minutes, but we're business partners always.’”

Like Hartford City FC's Agents of Hale fan club, the Elm City Express already have a group of supporters dedicated to the team. Rob Garamella is president of the Yard Dogs.  

"I’m just a kid from New Haven that has a lot of pride in his city and is very happy that a couple people decided to give us a shot and give us a professional team," he said.

Garamella is a local banker who has lived in the area his whole life. He said that there will be passion, but the fans also expect the team to win.

"We definitely want people singing and screaming for 90 minutes," Garamella said. "We plan on standing apart by being insanely passionate about where we’re from and who’s representing us."

The first home game for the Express will be played on May 20 against Hartford City FC.