Atlanta-based pro soccer team Georgia FC to play in Dalton Saturday

May 8—Professional soccer is coming to Dalton Saturday.

Atlanta-based Georgia FC, which competes in the National Independent Soccer Association, will play a regular season game at Dalton Stadium — located next to Heritage Point Park at 1275 Cross Plains Trail — Saturday at 2 p.m.

Georgia FC, which joined NISA for its inaugural season this year, plays Michigan Stars FC Saturday. The gates open at 1 p.m., and tickets will cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids aged 17 and under.

It's part of a slate of games Georgia FC, which plays regular season games normally in Atlanta, will play in Dalton this season. There is also a game scheduled for July 24 at 7 p.m. at Dalton Stadium. Georgia is 1-2-1 on the season, while Michigan is 4-0.

"There is such a soccer culture here," said Kerem Daser, a well-known figure in the Dalton soccer community who is also the sporting director for the new club. "I think it's pretty amazing to just wake up Saturday morning and head down the road a few miles to Dalton Stadium and watch pro soccer."

Daser, known locally as "Coach K," is the founder and CEO of Dalton-based North Georgia Soccer Academy and the former director of soccer at Dalton State College.

The club's roster also features some familiar faces, both from Daser's North Georgia Soccer Academy and from Dalton High School.

Former Dalton standouts Fabian Rodriguez and Cristian Zaragoza, are on the roster for Georgia FC. Rodriguez spent some time on the roster for Chattanooga FC, which was part of NISA before moving to MLS Next Pro this season. NISA is part of the third tier of the American professional soccer system. Zaragoza was once part of the roster for the Chattanooga Red Wolves, a USL League One team.

Also on Georgia FC's roster are some more players who trained with Daser for NGSA, including Hugo Martinez, who recently signed to play collegiately for Dalton State, and Rome High graduate Victor Valencia.

"It's nice to have two Dalton High School players that will be playing," Daser said. "It's neat to see former kids from our area putting on the pro jersey. It gives the kid that dream that, maybe if they work hard, they become pro players too."

Daser, in addition to his efforts with youth soccer locally, spent time working with another pro team in Atlanta before serving as a pro scout for Chattanooga FC, then helped launch Georgia FC.

He pushed for Georgia FC to play games in Dalton and hopes to bring a professional team to Dalton permanently.

"I've been working on this for 10 years," Daser said. "The team is Atlanta-based, but maybe one day we'll get a team in Dalton."