New Tri-Cities soccer teams aim to promote regional talent



On a bitter cold and windy Saturday in March, soccer players showed off their talents on the pitch.

Mike Chavez has lived in the Tri-Cities for 10 years. He said he has been playing since he was a child in his native Guadalajara.

“It helps my mental health first and foremost and I also like the community aspect to the soccer team, the soccer culture that we can have within a team,” said Chavez.

Ahmed Colakovic, another player from the area, said soccer makes him feel alive.

“I want to go on to play more of like college ball or hopefully, well, in like professional level as well,” said Colakovic.

Chavez and Colakovic took part in the Tri Cities Badgers tryouts. It’s a new semi-professional soccer team in the Tri-Cities.

TC Badgers FC, new soccer team in Tri-Cities.

Alfredo Alcantara, co-founder and president of the new Tri-Cities Badgers FC semi-pro soccer team, takes pictures of each participant at the end of day one of team tryouts at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland on March 2. (Credit: Annie Warren / NWPB.)

Alfredo Alcantara is a co-founder of the TC Badgers.

“We will be representing Tri-Cities in Washington State play for the Evergreen Premier League. It’s a semi-professional soccer league. We’re here to give opportunities to everybody,” said Alcantara.

The Badgers aren’t the only team in town – the Three Cities Football Club is also giving local players opportunities.

Jose Cueva is Three Cities’ owner and president.

“The league that we are in is the UPSL, which stands for United Premier Soccer League. That league is the fourth division under the MLS. It’s a real league that the FIFA runs,” said Cueva. 

3 Cities Football Club, new soccer team in Tri-Cities.

Soccer players listen to the coaches’ direction during the 3 Cities Football Club tryouts in Tri-Cities, WA. (Credit: 3 Cities FC)

He said the league opens the door to regional players who don’t always get opportunities to play at the next level. 

Colakovic said having these teams in the region make players more visible.

“You’re going to be playing against other semi pro teams and there’s obviously always like scouts, and people that are always watching you,” said Colakovic.

Pepe Marquez went with his son, Juan, to the early March tryouts. He said watching his son playing makes him emotional.

“When he was four years old, he got a disease in his feet and he stopped walking and watching him play I think is the greatest….for a dad,” he said in Spanish.

Against all odds, he said Juan recovered. Now, Marquez said he admires his son’s skills as a player.

“He has a vision and a special touch when he plays. He always plays for the team. Those are his greatest qualities,” he said.

Marquez is also the soccer coach of Gavilanes, a Grandview team of the Lower Valley Soccer League. 

“There’s a lot of talent,” Marquez said. “But there are times when the boys don’t believe it.”

TC Badgers, new soccer team in Tri-Cities.

The Tri-Cities Badgers FC team begins season play in May. From left to right: co-founder and president Alfredo Alcantara, assistant coach Alessandro Llamas Ibarra, head coach Humberto Chavez and co-founder German Abarca. (Credit: Annie Warren / NWPB)

German Abarca, another co-founder of the Badgers, agreed.

“They need motivation to get out of their homes and do something fun, because soccer is fun and families come to support,” said Abarca.

Marquez said having new semi-pro soccer clubs is a good start in motivating children and their parents. However, he said more coaches are needed. 

He also said getting involved in sports helps keep kids busy, discover their talents and stay out of trouble.

Three Cities’ first match is next month in Richland. 

The TC Badgers start in Kennewick in May.