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Tri-City region blessed with 2 high-level men’s soccer clubs this spring. How to watch them

It’s one thing to have a high-level local men’s soccer team to watch in the Tri-Cities.

In most years, there have been none.

But talk about a bounty of riches: the Tri-Cities has two soccer teams to watch this season.

There is the 3 Cities FC club, which has been playing since early April in the United Premier Soccer League in the Washington division.

In early May, the Tri-Cities Badgers begin play in the Evergreen Premier League, which consists of 12 teams throughout the state of Washington.

The 3 Cities team began when husband and wife team of Jose Cueva and Vanessa Paz decided local players needed an opportunity to advance their soccer careers.

“Players didn’t have this type of opportunity before locally,” said Paz, who serves as the team’s president. “Before, they’d have to travel quite a bit.”

Cueva, the team owner, put together the 3 Cities squad in the offseason. The response, said Paz, has been positive.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support from the community, including fans and sponsors,” said Paz. “We want to try to get this as big as we can. That includes youth teams.”

The United Premier Soccer League is considered a semipro level of soccer. It’s the fourth level of soccer in the United States, starting with Major League Soccer at the top.

The UPSL, which is FIFA affiliated, has two seasons during a calendar year. Right now, the Tri-City team is three weeks into the spring season, with seven games remaining.

Members of 3 Cities Football Club — which include mostly Mid-Columbia connections — are midfielder Jonathan Alfaro (former Othello/CBC player), defender Alex Alvarado, forward Edwin Aquino (Pasco/Seattle U/Sounders Academy), goalkeeper Antonio Campos (Hermiston), defender Alan Castro (CBC), forward Ivan Cortez (Pasco/CBC), defender Sergio Gutierrez, midfielder Alexis Leal (Hermiston), forward Emilio Leal (Hermiston), midfielder Enrique Leal (Hermiston), midfielder Felix Mendoza (Chiawana/CBC), defender Carlos Murillo (Othello/EOU), defender Jonas Olvera (Pasco/CBC), defender Lucy Ontiveros, defender Juan Orozco, goalkeeper Daniel Puga (Pasco/CBC), midfielder Vincius Silvia, forward Coleman Solano (Hermiston/Blue Mountain CC), midfielder Luis Solano, and midfielder Alexander Sotelo (Kamiakin/WWCC).

Head coach is Moises Lopez.

The 3 Cities team plays its home schedule (five contests) at Fran Rish Stadium at Richland High School.

Overall, 3 Cities plays in a six-team Washington league in the Premier Division. The other five teams all play in the Seattle region.

The local team is off to an 0-3 start, and plays host to FC Caliber at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 27, at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland.

Tickets cost $5 for adults, while kids ages 15 and under are admitted free.

Here is 3 Cities Football Club’s 2024 spring schedule:

4/6, Holac FC 2, at 3 Cities FC 1

4/14, at Snohomish Sky 5, 3 Cities FC 1

4/20, at Dalul FC 2, 3 Cities FC 1

4/27, FC Caliber at 3 Cities FC, Fran Rish, 6 p.m.

5/5, 3 Cities FC at Bellevue Athletic, Bellevue College, 2 p.m.

5/11, 3 Cities FC at Holac FC, Foster Stadium, 6 p.m.

5/18, Snohomish Sky at 3 Cities FC, Fran Rish, 6 p.m.

6/1, Dalul FC at 3 Cities FC, Fran Rish, 6 p.m.

6/8, 3 Cities FC at FC Caliber, Kentwood High School, 7 p.m.

6/15, Bellevue Athletic at 3 Cities FC, Fran Rish, 6 p.m.

The UPSL allows a few opportunities to make some money.

But it usually comes to teams that can go deep into the national playoffs.

“If we do win the championship the big prize is $120,000,” said Paz.

Meanwhile, the Tri-City Badgers are preparing for their inaugural Evergreen Premier League season.

It’s a league that involves 12 teams through the state of Washington.

There will be more on the Badgers next week.

Prep football

Kamiakin’s David Kuku will be a senior in the fall, and he’ll be one of the most sought-after locals player by college football coaches.

Why?

Well for starters, the Washington State Football Coaches Association put together its first all-state football team recently. It’s based off of what football players did during the fall campaign.

Kuku, a defensive back for Kamiakin, was named the Class 4A Defensive MVP.

Kuku has had eight college offers so far this spring. They come from Arizona State, Boise State, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Jackson State, Nebraska, San Diego State, and Washington State.

There will be more.

Besides Kuku, there were many other area athletes listed on the WSFCA all-state team.

Joining Kuku on the 4A team are Kamiakin junior Landon Biglin as an offensive lineman, Sunnyside senior offensive lineman Santiago Casa, Chiawana junior linebacker Cooper McPherson, and Kamiakin senior running back Camden Schmidt.

Schmidt has committed to playing for Whitworth University in Spokane.

Three Kennewick seniors were named to Class 3A team: offensive lineman Nathan Knapik, defensive lineman Dylin McIntyre, and wide receiver David Wacenske.

Knapik has already enrolled at the University of Idaho, while McIntyre will join him there in August.

Othello junior defensive lineman Mason Perez is this region’s lone representative on the Class 2A team.

Royal, which won another state championship in December, dominated the Class 1A team.

Junior quarterback Lance Allred was named Class 1A Player of the Year.

In addition, the Knights had five other players on the team: senior defensive back Caden Allred, senior defensive lineman Bennett Brown, senior wide receiver Case Christensen, senior linebacker Jared Lee, and senior offensive lineman Juan Morales.

Connell senior Kellen Riner also made the team as a wide receiver.

River View had three representatives on the Class 2B state team: senior defensive back Cody Brown, junior quarterback Hyatt Clark, and senior offensive lineman Nate Clinton.

Other local athletes to make the 2B team are Tri-Cities Prep senior defensive lineman Carter Dickhaus, and Columbia-Burbank senior linebacker Elijah Kinsey.

Finally, Liberty Christian junior Charlie Branning was named to the Class 1B state team as a defensive back.

Jeff Morrow is former sports editor for the Herald.