What’s next for the Fresno FC after a 3-2 loss to El Paso in the USL Championship quarterfinal match?
The future of the Foxes has remained uncertain since earlier this month when it was reported the club might leave Fresno if a permanent and soccer-specific location for the team is not found.
Foxes coach Adam Smith gave a bleak prediction of the Foxes’ future after Saturday’s loss at Chukchansi Park.
“I don’t think there is going to be a next season. I’ll be honest,” he said. “There isn’t going to be a next season for Fresno FC unless a miracle happens.”
The franchise started two seasons ago when the team’s ownership paid $5 million to start the team, knowing games at Chukchansi Park would be temporary.
USL requires teams to play on fields designed specifically for soccer, but the league allowed the team to modify the baseball field in the short term.
The league recently approached Fresno city leaders about new locations, but the available options didn’t work for the USL.
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand recently told The Bee the city helped the team find at least a half-dozen potential sites but they were either too small, too expensive or in some way didn’t fit the team’s needs.
The Foxes were riding a hot streak, winning two straight matches, including snapping Phoenix Rising FC’s 22-match winning streak.
But the team stumbled and lost three consecutive matches. Fresno then tied LA Galaxy and lost to Orange County in the season finale. Fresno dropped from second place to third place, though they still hosted a playoff match.
Uncertainty surrounding the club’s future took a toll on the team, Smith said.
“That’s the reality of it,” he said. “That’s the reason why we were in the situation we’re in. We had great form, momentum and we had self-belief. We had a great locker room. I want to be very clear - I’m not trying to sort of make this a big deal and an excuse. It’s the truth and you can see that from the timeline.”
Smith was careful not to point fingers while acknowledging the reality of working under the cloud of a precarious future “impacts people’s livelihood.”
“It’s going to have a negative impact,” Smith told reporters, “and it’s our jobs as professionals - players and staff - to sort of put that to the back and don’t let the outside distractions get on top of us. It has an impact.”