The Shreveport Rafters FC, or Rafters FC, enter the GCPL after their successful inaugural season in the NPSL over the summer. Qualifying for the South Central Conference Playoffs, the Rafters took the NPSL by storm, not only on the field, but off the field. In their first home game of the season the Rafters set the attendance bar pretty high for amateur soccer in Louisiana, with 3,000+ fans present to witness their team defeat Fort Worth Vaqueros, 2-0.
Team overview: A good amount of talent is returning for the Rafters from their NPSL season. One could question if this really is a “reserve” squad as they call it. Some familiar names to the fans of the Rafters are forwards Will Awagu, Nick Hammond and Luiz Petribu; midfielders Mark Hammond, Jesus Hernandez and Matt Barcelona; defenders Abdullah Rayyan, Gary McCormick, Che Walcott and Aaron Bergman; keepers Lance Quini and Adam Williams. Also, a few of their practice squad players will look to get some minutes, Hardy Hall and Gabe Rodriguez.
The Rafters entered arguably one of the more prestigious divisions in the NPSL and were able to qualify for their conference tournament. An impressive feat for any team who is only a few months old. While they came up short in their first ever playoff appearance, a lot can be desired on how the Rafters handled their first competitive season.
So what should we expect from the Rafters this season?
Well, the notion that this team is a “reserve” squad is sort of misleading. Yes, they are without a few of their top players from the NPSL season, and yes, they’ll be looking to incorporate a good bit of guys from their practice squad, but it would be foolish for any team to take the Rafters lightly. While featuring for BOCA FC last season, defenders Abdullah Rayyan, Gary McCormick and Che Walcott, along with keeper Lance Quini, managed to keep the goals against per game average at .43 through their first 7 games. An unfortunate early red card saw them give up 4 in their last contest of the season v. Motagua New Orleans. Add in a few seasoned NPSL players and you have the perfect reserve squad.
Reserve team or not, the Rafters will undoubtedly give their GCPL opponents a game. The biggest question is will we see a return of the seersucker kits? Seriously, we want one.
One to watch: Kenny Chism, Winger/Attacking Mid
The Shreveport native joins the Rafters, his third team in his GCPL career, after spending last season with cross town rivals, BOCA FC. During his 15-16 campaign, he scored 4 goals and notched 1 assist for the Knights. The shifty winger offers great experience for the port city outfit and should give the Rafters plenty of options to penetrate opposition’s final third.