Semi-pro soccer team coming to Kokomo

Aug. 22—Kokomo will soon be home to a semi-professional soccer team.

The Kokomo Vipers FC are planning to begin its inaugural season next spring as part of the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL). The UPSL is unofficially the fourth tier of U.S. soccer.

The soccer team is co-owned by Mike Putt, the Peru High School theater director, and Alex Ramos, of Frankfort, who has been president and owner of the UPSL team Black Cat FC in West Lafayette since 2021.

The two met each other at Frankfort Middle School when they were tasked to coach the school's soccer team. Putt knew next to nothing about soccer at the time, but grew to love the sport in the years since.

The UPSL offers players 16 years and older a chance to play professional soccer and focuses on bridging the gap between youth and professional soccer. The average age of a player is 22.5, according to the UPSL's website.

The league started in 2011 and now has nearly 400 teams nationwide. Two seasons — one spring and one fall — are played each year, {span}with regional play culminating in a playoff system that crowns a single national champion each season. {/span}

"The one thing I just kept hearing over and over, I still hear over and over, in this town is there's nothing for anyone over the age of 16 in soccer," Putt said. "And so, I took the idea of bringing an adult soccer team here to Kokomo with Alex."

Details, such as where the Vipers will play, roster, schedule and head coach, are all still in the works.

The team's formal UPSL application is nearly finalized, and Putt said a formal team announcement by the league is expected in the coming weeks or months. The team will announce the first player signings next month.

The Vipers are currently building a roster. The team held tryouts earlier this month. Ten players showed up to the team's first tryout, Putt said. Another tryout is scheduled for September. Those interested should monitor the team's Facebook page "Kokomo Vipers FC" for the tryout's time, date and location.

As of Saturday, the team has a handful of player commitments. The goal is to build a roster of around 30 players.

While the Vipers will consider players from the area, the team also plans on recruiting internationally.

The duo has employed the help of Sam Beckom to act in a general manager-type role. Beckom is also the GM for the Kokomo BobKats, the city's professional basketball team.

The Vipers will be the second semi-professional team to try their luck in the City of Firsts.

In 2016, Kokomo Mantis FC, started and owned by ROC Ventures, the same company that owns and operates the Kokomo Jackrabbits, was formed and played its games at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. The team played one season before folding.

Ramos said the Vipers have a better chance of survival as the starting and operating costs of teams in the UPSL are considerably cheaper than the Premier Development League (now called the USL League Two) that the Kokomo Mantis FC joined.

Even with costs considerably cheaper, the longevity of the Kokomo Vipers FC relies heavily on attracting sponsors, which the team is currently looking for.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.