Monthly Archives: March 2015
Following in the footsteps of his teammate Daley Stevens, Lane United FC goalkeeper Matt Bersano is enjoying a spell of training in Valencia, Spain, prior to the upcoming PDL season. Along with his high school teammate and FC Tucson midfielder Brian Hoyt, Bersano has practiced already with several teams — Atlético Saguntino, CF Cullera and UD Alzira — in the Spanish terçera (third) division, and is expected to move up to a team in the segunda B within the next week. He will return to the U.S. in early April and begin training with Lane United shortly thereafter.
Bersano’s exploits are the latest to highlight the connection between Lane United and the city of Valencia. In the 2014 inaugural Lane United season, the Reds drew four players from Valencia, including Josep Baldoví, who went on to lead the midfield and garner the second-most minutes overall despite missing the first game of the season. In November and December of last year, Eugene native and Lane United fullback Stevens spent time training with several clubs in and around the Spanish city. And just last week, John and Dave Galas, the Lane United directors, embarked on a scouting trip to Valencia that resulted in six European players committing to play for the Reds this summer (they will be fully introduced on this blog and on the roster once their paperwork clears).
“It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to expand our reach across the Atlantic to Spain,” said Lane United sporting director and head coach John Galas. “Global Sportainment Group, who put on the tryouts, and SoccerMedia were great hosts and the level of professionalism in which this event was run was first class. We’ve already had a great and fruitful relationship with both groups and we’re looking forward to more in the years to come,” he added.
Bersano, who graduated from Oregon State this winter after captaining the Beavers to an outstanding PAC-12 record and their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003 in the fall, has barely given himself time to relax in the off-season. He spent the MLS preseason in training with Sporting Kansas City, then immediately departed for Spain soon after. After the Lane United season, which starts in early May and could extend as late as early August, he will be attending Penn State University and using up his final year of NCAA eligibility to play for the Nittany Lions.
The Lane United FC season kicks off on May 8 with a home match against South Sound FC. Open tryouts for the team take place this weekend at the Willamalane Center in Springfield and are free to watch for the public.
Late last week, a momentous decision was reached — a “minor miracle,” in the words of a Eugene city councilman — regarding the history of Civic Stadium near downtown Eugene. The Eugene Civic Alliance, a nonprofit group comprising Lane United FC managing director Dave Galas, Kidsports executive director Bev Smith, and several other community leaders, was able to show the City of Eugene that they had raised the $4.1 million necessary to purchase the Civic property. The facts and recent history of the deal have been well-reported in the local media; the long and short of it is that, pending the closing of the deal at the end of March, Civic Stadium will be in new hands.
It will be the first change of ownership for the stadium since its construction in 1938. The 4J Public School District has been the exclusive owner of the stadium since then, and it was used for its first few decades of existence as a venue for high school sports and graduations. In 1969, the Eugene Emeralds minor-league baseball team moved in and stayed for 40 years, fielding future Major League stars along the way like Eric Davis, Mike Sweeney, Larry Bowa, and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. Longtime residents of Eugene know the stadium best as the venue for relaxing summer evening baseball games during the Emeralds’ residence there. The Emeralds, who left Civic after the 2009 season for PK Park at the University of Oregon, were one of the major donors in the fundraising effort that allowed the Eugene Civic Alliance to purchase the property.
“The site was originally envisioned and has always been used as a community gathering place, and it was built in substantial part by volunteers who embody that spirit,” said Dave Galas, the Lane United managing director who also serves on the Eugene Civic Alliance. “I’m just glad that the community, even 75-plus years on, stepped up and was able to preserve it as a space that everyone can benefit from.”
Lane United has long been mentioned as a future tenant of a refurbished stadium, but the Eugene Civic Alliance’s plan makes it clear that many others will benefit from the renovations too. Kidsports will be helped immeasurably by having its own gym space in the form of a new fieldhouse that is intended to be built on the property, and most outdoor field sports will be able to use the new playing surface that will be installed.
“I’ve always seen Civic Stadium as the perfect venue for LUFC, but we have to take care to do what’s right for the club and what’s right for the community. The research I’ve done bears that out — that it’s ideal for all, because of the walkability, bikeability, integration with the surrounding neighborhood, access to public transit, everything. The Eugene Emeralds’ endorsement [David Elmore owns the Emeralds and is a part-owner of Lane United] of the Civic Alliance shows their dedication to the community, and that having a multi-use facility like this — great for families, sports fans, really for any type of event — near the heart of the city just makes the city so much more attractive, to an outsider or to residents, both.”
Galas has said that any talk of a timetable for completing the renovations that would allow Lane United to play at Civic would be “premature,” given the reliance on continued fundraising. But the list of necessary renovations for the stadium has been known for some time now, and Galas and others have pointed out elsewhere that the damage is mostly “cosmetic.” All but two of the 360 old-growth timbers used to build the stadium remain structurally sound 75 years on. Immediately following the closing of the sale this month, the Friends of Civic Stadium will be approached to pay for renovation of the stadium roof with funds from their own escrow account.
Though the timing remains uncertain, the dream that Lane United will one day play in a refurbished Civic Stadium, hard by downtown Eugene and serving as a healthy vibrant hub for the city’s active community, is now set to become a reality. From the entire Lane United FC community, we thank you for supporting all the Civic-related initiatives over the past few years and urge you to continue supporting the Eugene Civic Alliance in the years of hard work that lie ahead.