Dear Forward Fans,
As we start 2021, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update from the Club as it relates to our 2021 planning. While I will do my best to provide a clear and transparent direction, please understand that there is still a great deal of uncertainty created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and this could be the first of several updates.
To start, as I reflect on 2020, there were many challenges, but several highlights I will always remember. First off, I will always remember the amazing support and generosity of our season ticket holders, corporate partners and fans. Without you, we would not still be here today as a business. Your support has kept us going and will keep us going until we can return at full strength. Secondly, I commend our staff and players for their flexibility in working to pull off the season as the team was required to travel to the Wisconsin Dells daily to train and play our home matches at Hart Park in Wauwatosa. I will also look back on 2020 as the year the Club found its voice related to social issues and I am proud of how the players, front office and fans came together to raise awareness and speak out against social injustices. Finally, in the midst of all of the chaos caused by COVID-19, FMFC and its partners were able to raise more than $40,000 for local charities through a variety of community campaigns.
Moving forward, here is where things stand as it relates to 2021:
USL League One Schedule – At this time, we expect the season to start in late April and run into November. We hope to have a schedule to share with you in early March. While there are currently complications with crossing the Canadian border, USL League One is currently comprised of 12 teams with the recent addition of North Carolina FC. We expect to play a total of 28 matches with 14 at home. It is too early for any clarity on the US Open Cup or possible exhibition matches.
Player Report Date – On the current schedule, players will report to Madison to start pre-season training on March 11.
Roster Composition – I am encouraged by new Head Coach and Technical Director Carl Craig’s approach to building the roster. I have been impressed with his thorough research on each candidate and his view of a whole soccer player as opposed to just a quality player on the field. We expect to have eight to nine players return from our 2020 roster. We have verbally agreed to terms with two new attacking players and expect to receive at least three players from our affiliation with the Chicago Fire FC. We are a little more than halfway there to completing our roster. Due to the delayed season start date, the player market is moving slower than normal. Therefore, we feel good about the position we are in from a roster perspective.
Roster Combine – We will be hosting an invite only player combine on February 16 and 17 in Rockford, Illinois to evaluate prospective players. Over the last two years, we have signed six rostered players from these tryouts including Michael Vang.
Breese Stevens Field/ Home Matches – We are working diligently with City and County officials and Public Health Madison Dane County on the current local orders. As you know, out of 70 professional soccer markets in the US, Madison was the only market in 2020 that was not allowed to play the beautiful game. While we are hopeful we will be able to return in advance of the 2021 season, we do have several backup options in place for both training and matches. Our goal and focus is to return to Breese Stevens Field, but we do need to be prepared in the case that PHMDC continues to not allow soccer to be played. We will be in contact as we know more, but we will plan to make an announcement on our venue for the start of our 2021 season as well as put single game tickets on sale the last week of March.
Season Tickets – Once again, we appreciate the support of our season ticket and mini plan holders. Your support has been vital to our sustainability. If you had 2020 season tickets and did not use them, they will automatically roll over to 2021. If you had 2020 season tickets and used them at Hart Park, we will update your remaining credits and talk about a plan for 2021. New season tickets and mini-plans for 2021 are on sale now.
We appreciate your time and continued support of Forward Madison FC. Please do not hesitate to reach out with further questions. While there are some unknowns related to the 2021 season, we are committed to playing and are hopeful we can return to Breese Stevens Field. We look forward to talking more soon.