New England Soccer Today

A Growing Force

For decades now, the relationship between New England and the American soccer pyramid has been fickle at best, with only one team at the top and dozens at the very bottom.

A combination of low attendance and the United Soccer League consolidating have created a wide gap in the “middle pyramid” that are the second and third divisions for the region.

Clubs that potentially could have made up the northeast market for the USL PRO (third) or North American Soccer League (second) either folded before the huge league sanctions of 2010 (Connecticut Wolves, Boston Bulldogs) or decided against promotion and relegated themselves for financial purposes (Western Mass Pioneers, Cape Cod Crusaders).

This is the state of things in New England as the Revolution continues to compete in top division Major League Soccer and smaller clubs thrive well-below them in the fourth tier (PDL, NPSL, USASA, etc.).

Enter the New England Force; a club-in-the-making based in Hartford that first surfaced in early January with low fanfare and an extensive year-long building plan.

“We saw an opening,” says Force Head Coach Jon Langer. “We felt there was an opening in the area for another team at a high level. Right now, if you look at the NASL, you’ve got the Cosmos… and Ottawa coming in but what is there for the NASL in the northeast? Nothing.”

The former Head Coach of the star-studded-turned-defunct Austin Posse (which included USMNT members and MLS stars Roy Lassiter and Chad Deering), Langer now oversees the player development and building of a team hoping to be the region’s next stable top-tier club.

“(There were) a group of people: three different part-owners talking about… starting the team. I didn’t know how far along they had progressed at the time and they asked me that, if they put the team together, would I be willing to coach? And that’s how it happened.”

Operating in 2012 in relative silence, the Force made itself known last January with the launch of their website, stating “the Force understands that building a top flight organization will take time and we are looking to the challenge with optimism” according to General Manager Nate Millette.

“It’s a work in progress: we’re not rushing overnight,” Langer explains. “What we’ve seen a lot of are teams that come and go. What happens is a club comes along, gets a lot of publicity, throws themselves out there by spending a lot of money and the next thing you know, a year later they’re down and floundering.

“We figured we’d take a different route, that we’d take our time. We’re going to take 10-12 months to build this team. It’s not an overnight type thing: we’re not trying to impress anybody.”

Still, with EPL veterans like Manchester City’s Emile Mpenza and Stuart Taylor committed as well as several players with international team experience, the Force’s current roster looks more and more ready to play than it did in January when the club was bringing in trialists left and right.

“(As of April), I’d say we’re somewhere above PDL but really, even though we beat and tied USL teams, we’re not really there yet at the NASL or USL level,” says Langer. “We did outplay (them): both of our games against Harrisburg and Pittsburgh were predominantly with trialists. We had four guys that are (now) on the roster.”

With a win versus the Harrisburg City Islanders and tie against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds under their belts, it was also with trialists that the Force faced the New England Revolution on April 5th, losing 4-0 with the Revs using most of their starting lineup.

“We brought 22 guys that were all trialists (and) if you take away the PK that was a bad call, even Heaps and everyone admitted, and the goal in the last two minutes, it would have been a better game but they outplayed us, they were the better team,” Langer admits. “So we’re not there yet but the point I’m making is this: we did that with trialists while they’re a team that was five games into their season.”

Since then, the Force has made a number of changes, including adjustments to its roster, an academy partnership with Sporting Club Accra in Ghana, and announcing an international friendly in Hartford versus C.D. Olimpia for July 23rd.

But according to Langer, six months into their 10-12 month time table, there’s still work to be done.

“We definitely need to work on chemistry and continuity. Most of our guys came in the middle and end of May when most (international) seasons end like in Argentina. But I can’t wait to get them on the field and training and getting our system in place. We picked out the pieces to the puzzle and we’re already a few pieces away. Once we’re there, then we’ll start working them overtime. We’ll take hits, but in the end it’s going to be fantastic.”

(Editor’s Note: This article originally stated the Austin Posse played in the United Soccer Leagues (USL). We later discovered that this was not the case; the Posse played an exhibition season under Langer (much like the New England Force), but disbanded in 2004 without ever joining a league.)

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  1. alex

    June 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    “decorated but now-defunct Austin Posse of USL fame”? Are you serious?

    • James Paleologopoulos

      July 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      Hi Alex,

      That line is a failure on my part.

      What I meant was, the Posse had a relatively star-studded lineup for an exhibition team including Roy Lassiter

      As for “USL fame,” I was under the impression that the Posse’s 7-0-1 season WAS with the United Soccer League, not an exhibition season like the Force are having now.

      What I probably should have said was “famous for believing they could have joined the Mexican first or second division,” but the damage has been done.

      Sorry about that. There’s very little solid Posse information on the net but a little extra digging would have prevented this.

      Thank you for pointing it out. It’ll be edited soon.

  2. John

    July 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    This is the biggest scam east of the Mississippi! He is out to ruin young players. He promises them big money and then drops them at the first chance.

    Have you done any research to see what happened to the Austin Posse? USL will never accept them into the league because they know he’s a scam.

    As a matter of fact, all USL Pro and PDL teams have been told to stay away from this guy.

    • James Paleologopoulos

      July 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

      Hi John.

      Of the research I’ve done on the Posse online, from what I’ve gathered the club had a good roster and plans for joining a league up until the front office collapsed in 2004 and the team folded.

      From what I remember, somewhere on the internet, it had to do with the club’s original owner/manager stealing ticket sales and escaping to Mexico, leaving Langer as GM (he joked in the interview about how he came in as coach and left as manager because of the “mess”).

      It’s all information I can’t verify and didn’t want to run.

      As for the United Soccer League warning clubs about him, I had no idea. Would it be possible to point me in the right direction/towards someone in the league who knows of this situation?

      You can reach me in the comments here, at, or at if you have time. Anything’s good.

      Thank you for bringing this up

      • alex

        July 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm

        Here’s one player’s account of his time with the Posse:

        “Unfortunately, most of that gate money was stolen in a burglary, according to General Manager Langer. That was when players started to check up on the club’s finances. And shortly afterwards, the manager vanished,” he said.

        Scoullar has not discounted a return to Texas, but for the moment he is happy to rejoin some old mates at the Roslyn-Wakari club playing Southern Premier League.

        “When October comes, I am very keen to be a part of the Otago United squad. It will be good to play National League soccer in New Zealand again, provided, of course, that the new coach picks me, and provided his name is not Langer.”

        Also you should probably remove the part where you say that Stuart Taylor is committed to play for the Force, since he’s currently in preseason training with his real club, Reading. Wouldn’t count on a friendly against Olimpia either. Or Valencia.

        • James Paleologopoulos

          July 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

          Thank you for providing all of this, Alex; there is going to be a followup on the Force in the near future (I’m currently bogged down with my summer job at the moment).

          As for Taylor, I’m going to leave that bit up. The Force DID list him as a player on their website at the time of this article and this piece serves as proof.

  3. alex

    July 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    This was the Austin Chronicle’s verdict:

    “With almost no advance publicity, this start-up pro team brought in a major-league roster and announced games against top-flight teams from four different nations. Then, just as suddenly, they were gone – folded after just three exhibition games, and leaving behind an ocean of ill will, unpaid debts, and a tough act to follow for the next folks brave enough to try to bring pro soccer to Austin.”

  4. John in Austin

    August 28, 2013 at 1:13 am

    I did some work for this guy and nothing good ever came from his endeavors. To a man… everyone associated with the Posse will tell you this guy is a waste. No one got paid, promises were immense. If you have the contacts, get with Roy Lassiter, Chad Deering or Ezra Hendrickson and you will get a obscenity laced tirade about this guy. I guarantee you he will create a new batch of enemies with the NE Force and he will drive this new club into failed debts.

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