The W-League announced an important step in its western expansion last week with the addition of the Sedona FC Strikers, who will begin play in 2014. Owned and operated by AGM Soccer Management, LLC and its principals Oscar Guardado and Manny Arias, Sedona FC will compete in the W-League’s Western Conference alongside traditional league powers such as the LA Blues and Seattle Sounders Women.
In addition to the W-League team, Sedona FC also plans to provide development programs for the area while establishing itself as a role model for the local youth and business community. Plans include recreational and competitive opportunities, camps and clinics run by the staff and players, youth tournaments, and men’s and women’s international friendly matches.
“Sedona FC is an important addition to the W-League and will help the already formidable Western Conference grow even stronger,” W-League Senior Director Amanda Duffy said. “Oscar Guardado and Manny Arias have devoted themselves to growth of soccer in Arizona at all levels, and we are confident they will operate a first-class franchise while helping to raise the profile of women’s soccer and the W-League throughout Arizona.”
Guardado, who has more than 20 years of competitive and semi-professional playing and coaching experience, will serve as the Strikers’ director of business operations and general manager. He began playing professionally in his native El Salvador in 1988, continuing his semi-pro career in the U.S. until 2006. He has become immersed in Arizona club soccer scene, creating Estudantez AZ to help young players reach the next level.
The Strikers have tabbed Arias, who also has an extensive professional playing background in his native El Salvador, as head coach. Arias has served as a professional, college, high school and club coach in Arizona since 2000, and holds USSF and international “A” licenses. He has also been a driving force behind the creation and development of many of Arizona’s top youth clubs, including Chivas USA, Atlas FC Academy, Barcelona FC and Estudantez AZ.
“We are looking forward to this great opportunity to put local talent and soccer in Arizona on the map, and bring opportunities to play and be seen at a higher level,” Guardado said. “It is truly an honor to be part of the W-League, as we feel it will give Sedona FC Strikers the experience and exposure we need. Our ultimate goal is to provide different opportunities for female soccer players to showcase their talent and skills on a local, national and international stage while giving back to the community of Sedona and promoting female soccer at a more professional level.”
The Strikers will play a 12-game schedule between the months of May-July, with the announcement of the team’s home venue expected to be made in the coming weeks.
Tryouts for the new club are planned for March, 2014. All information will also be available online at the club’s new website, slated for launch in December.
The W-League is the first and longest-standing women’s soccer league in North America. The 2013 W-League campaign featured 25 teams in three regional conferences playing 10-12 regular season matches. Featuring current and former international and professional stars, the W-League also provides elite amateurs the opportunity to compete while maintaining their eligibility as college student-athletes. The league is recognized throughout the world for providing superior competition for female players, while offering affordable family entertainment for fans throughout North America.