New Spokane Velocity soccer team asks fans to bring 'electric' energy for Saturday's first home game

Mar. 12—On Saturday, a new professional soccer team will run out of a new locker room into a new stadium to try to kick its way into the hearts of Spokane fans.

The Spokane Velocity, the newest member of the United Soccer League's League One, will face off against the Richmond Kickers at 2 p.m. at ONE Spokane Stadium.

The Velocity are coming off a season-opening 3-1 loss last week to the Greenville (South Carolina) Triumph, but coach Leigh Veidman emphasized that the team members are still getting to know each other. He's hoping that an expected sellout crowd of about 5,000 fans will create a new tradition of winning.

Veidman said he doesn't know that much about the defunct Spokane Shock football team, but he's learned enough about the Lilac City to know that its citizens want a team to support.

"We've got a pretty high-level basketball team in town," Veidman said. "This city knows about sports. This city knows about being competitive and winning. We want to bring that sports community together here and create a cool environment for our players."

The team, including Snohomish, Washington, native defender Camron Miller and Othello, Washington, native midfielder Michael Rojas, will run out into a $37.9 million stadium that is jointly operated by Spokane Public Schools and the Spokane Public Facilities District to replace the now-demolished Joe Albi Stadium.

"It's amazing," Veidman said of ONE Spokane Stadium. "Having this resource is absolutely incredible. This is a massive credit to the city and ownership group for making this happen."

The coach wants Spokane's rowdiest to bring chaos for the new team.

"Of course in the boundaries of being respectful ... it's important that the fans do what they can to make the opposition feel uncomfortable," he said. "This is our home. We don't want people to come here and feel comfortable."

As of Tuesday, some tickets, as low as $21 per person, remained.

"We want to take an environment that not just makes our opposition feel uncomfortable, but really pushes our players and draws them in almost like a 12th man on the field to make them feel like they've got that extra push in the game," Veidman said.

The Liverpool, England, native is leading a team that shared his excitement about playing on the new surface, which also doubles for high school football games in the fall and will also host the Spokane Zephyr, a part of USL's "Super League," the highest level of professional women's soccer. That season kicks off in August.

Luis Gil, a 30-year-old midfielder from Garden Grove, California, who signed his first professional contract at age 16, said the players are ecstatic about opening the season in Spokane.

"This is awesome. This is top notch," Gil said of the facility. "Everything, from ownership to everyone working in between, they've been very professional. Look at the stadium we are in."

Goalkeeper Carlos Merancio, a native of Hermosillo, Mexico, who played in the Mexican Football League before moving to the U.S. in 2019, said he hopes to see the stands full.

"The facility is top in the league, and we are so grateful we are here," Merancio said. "We are looking forward to play and perform well in front of our fans."

Midfielder Pierre Reedy, 26, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, said the players feed off the fans' energy. Reedy, who also played at Penn State, was named to the All-Big 10 first team.

He played in 2023 for the Charleston Battery of the USL's Championship league.

"Hopefully, this becomes a fortress," Reedy said of ONE Spokane Stadium. "When a team comes into this environment, they know that it's going to be really difficult for them.

"We draw so much from the fans and them cheering us on. And, I think if it's electric in here, it's going to make us run faster, run harder and compete."