After a rough 2020 we head into 2021 a little more optomistic that local soccer will be played this season. Last year the NPSL and USL League Two cancelled their seasons and the newly created Midwest Premier League cancelled what was to be their inaugural season as well. However now that league is thriving with a total of 20 clubs stretching from Eastern Michigan to Western Iowa.
We spoke with Union club President Cliff Conrad about the club and what they’re doing to make themselves unique and to grow in the landscape.
EDITORS NOTE: I (Ashle Norling) am also a part of Union Dubuque FC as the Director of Marketing and Communications on a volunteer (unpaid) basis. This interview was conducted as E Pluribus Loonum and Union Dubuque FC rather than in any other way.
E Pluribus Loonum: When and why was the club founded?
Cliff Conrad: The club was founded on March 24th, 2017. Our purposes in starting the club was to bring a competitive soccer team to the area and to “complete” the developmental pyramid in the area, as prior to our founding, there were only casual/local amateur teams playing in local leagues. Our goal is to represent the area in regional competition and provide an awesome community to be a part of.
EPL: What are the club’s soccer related goals, both on and off the pitch?
CC: Our soccer goals are to compete sustainably at the highest level that makes sense for us. We see three main competitions as our “battlegrounds:” The Midwest Premier League, the National Amateur Cup, and the US Open Cup. While we haven’t participated in the USOC yet, it remains our objective to do so and do so regularly.
Off of the pitch, the sole objective is sustainability through meaningful engagement and community ownership of the club. We can’t do what we want to do if we don’t exist.
EPL: Outside of soccer, what kind of things does the club engage in doing?
CC: We’re still building the “outside of soccer” portion of the club. While we remain a soccer club and lots of our community efforts are related to other soccer organizations (HS teams, youth clubs, etc.), we want to make people happy and provide opportunities for people to lead healthy, active lives. We’re still working on what that looks like, but that’s the main objective.
EPL: What has changed in the club since it was founded?
CC: The biggest change that I’d say has happened since our founding is discovering our “true self.” For years we felt like we needed to be “big time,” play in large stadiums, keep it professional on social media, etc. What we’ve learned is that we can be even more successful by being genuine, having the occasional laugh at our own expense, and being fun over being professional.
The long term goal of the club is to never lose to DeKalb County again. In actuality, it’s playing against an MLS team in Dubuque, at our own stadium. I’d be happy if we stayed in “amateur” land forever if we could accomplish that, because it will have meant that we did everything right off the field.
EPL: Tell us what the long term goals of the club is. How can fans find you on Social Media? (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc)
CC: Fans can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch. @uniondfc at all except Facebook, which is @uniondbq
A few things not highlighted in the conversation we’re some of the things Union has done, even in the midst of a pandemic. Back in the summer UDFC held a High School All Star game at the Dubuque Soccer Complex.
Our wonderful players and ref who all helped make this game happen. Thank you to all who participated and attended the match today. pic.twitter.com/o4imUVAplU— Union Dubuque F.C. (@uniondfc) July 12, 2020
The club will also be starting a U21 Developmental Program going forward as a way to nto only bolster the First Team but also bring more high quality soccer to the area.
▶️ Top-quality training— Union Dubuque F.C. (@uniondfc) August 26, 2020
▶️ Access to the first team
▶️ Free for members
We're proud to announce our first developmental program, the Union U21s. ⚽️⚽️
Learn More: https://t.co/FwPzi0UPuz#ForeverDBQ pic.twitter.com/3dDrUDC5la
Not to mention they unveiled this beauty of a kit to be used in 2021 as they debut in the Midwest Premier League.
Ok, a few more... pic.twitter.com/vDaCP12lvG— Union Dubuque F.C. (@uniondfc) November 24, 2020
We’re planning on doing more Local Soccer Spotlights, if you as a fan or club are interested in this please email us or DM us on Twitter or Facebook. And of course Support Local Soccer.