Jon DeBoer/Stumptown AC

MATTHEWS – Soccer fans will be welcomed back to the Matthews Sportsplex on May 12, when Stumptown AC faces LA Force in the first home game of the season.

Head coach Rod Underwood said the guys are excited to play, but that LA Force is a good team and will be a difficult opponent.

“They play hard and smart and use the ball correctly, so it’ll be a great contest and hopefully a match we will come out on top of,” he said, adding that despite being a new team, Stumptown’s strength is in its unity. “We are very like-minded in how we play the game and how we possess the ball and how we want to be dominant in the game.”

Founded in 2021, Stumptown AC plays in the National Independent Soccer Association and replaces Stumptown Athletic, which opted out of the rest of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The league decided to rebrand the club rather than lose the market and appointed Fred Matthes interim president, Underwood as head coach and Carrie Taylor head of operations.

“The team has come together fast but it has come together in a way that we feel it’s moving in the right direction,” Underwood said. “We will put on a good show.”

Stumptown AC plays four home games this season and tickets are available at www.StumptownAC.com. Prices start as low as $10 per game in the supporters section up to $160 for all four games in the Canopy Club membership, that includes VIP hospitality during the pre-game, halftime and post game as well as food and beverages, merchandise and VIP parking.

The Sportsplex can hold up 5,000 people, but Matthes said only 1,500 seats will be available to allow for spaced-out seating and social distancing. He described the stadium as “small, but intimate” with great sight lines from every seat, making fans feel close to the action even in the furthest row back.

Matthes is excited for fans to have pride in their hometown team again, especially one that has experienced the pandemic much like the rest of the world — “being shut down and coming back together even stronger.”

“People are anxious to see us play again on the field,” Matthes said

“Coming out of this pandemic, people are hungry to get out and do things,” he added. “They are ready to get out and be about in public again as safely as possible.”

Matthes said his biggest hope — that Stumptown AC would be playing this year — has already been realized. Now that the season is underway, he’s focusing on establishing the team in the community, connecting with youth soccer academies and pushing the organization’s environmental focus.

The name Stumptown AC is a nod to Matthews in the early 19th century, when the town was unofficially called Stumptown for the amount of tree stumps left from making way for cotton farms. To pay homage to its history, Matthes said the organization is partnering with TreesCharlotte to plant trees for milestone events like its first goal and first win.

Underwood echoed Matthes’ goals for the season, adding that it’s important for fans to build an emotional attachment with the team after the tough year everyone has had.

“We hope we can bring some joy and excitement to the community and not just be a part of the community, but connect with them in a special way,” Underwood said.

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