"There is a huge club soccer scene here with a lot of talent and 2 of the biggest tournaments in the nation."
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Now, Tyler Scull took some time to discuss Las Vegas Mobsters with me back in August. He has some fascinating insights on the local soccer scene, the growing pains, challenges and opportunities of being a member of the UPSL, and why the team decided to leave the PDL for a league that could be seen as the 'startup' of the amateur scene. Check it out.
Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with the Las Vegas Mobsters.
My name is Tyler Scull, I am from Las Vegas, and work as the General Manager.
How did you come to be a fan of soccer?
I grew up playing, always being at fields with my dad.
Are you a born and raised Vegas guy?
Yes, I was born and raised here in Vegas.
Based on what the internet tells me, I feel like I've met a unicorn! What's the origin story behind the Las Vegas Mobsters?
I'm actually starting to realize that more and more. It essentially started with our owners seeing that there no real opportunities for players outside of UNLV, which does a good job but can only give so many players an opportunity. They originally started by joining the PDL.
That's right, Mobsters used to be a PDL team. What prompted the switch from the PDL to the UPSL?
We saw the model of playing 10 months out of the year working with local players more in line with our goals of help local talent move on to the next level.
How much of a difference has that extra playing time made for your players?
I think we will start to see the difference in the fall season coming up. Where we have seen it is we have brought back a lot of the local talent that had been overlooked here or were back in Vegas for one reason or the other, be it not the right opportunity or just finished with school.
Other than season, what are some of the other differences you see between the PDL and UPSL?
I think the UPSL is a little bit less established and is having its growing pains. The UPSL is trying to be innovative with promotion and relegation but it does need a lot of work being the pioneers for that system. I do personally like that the UPSL gives you a little bit more freedom and is more of a team first league although that too I think needs some tweaking. Also like I mentioned UPSL is catered a little more to local players and the PDL towards college players in their offseason.
Since you are on the ground, so to speak, what kind of tweaks and changes do you think need to be made?
The biggest tweak is learning to best mesh every local division which each has their own unique obstacles and differences. For example city field situations are much different here than they are in Southern California.
So it sounds issues are more on the ground type things?
I think it's sort of natural moving into new markets. Where as usually the league leaves it to the local team UPSL tries to be proactive in setting everything up.
That's good to hear. How would you describe the level of competition in your conference of the UPSL?
There are a couple clubs that need to catch up in terms of professionalism, but the talent level is very high and talent pool is very large in Las Vegas. I think Las Vegas as a soccer city is undervalued.
We had the national champions last season FC Anahuac and then another team, Real Zamora, ended our undefeated season in this seasons playoffs.
Did going undefeated and then losing in the playoffs make this past season feel a little hollow?
I think overall it was good for some of the guys. With the talent we put together they were pretty much in cruise control though the last couple games. While it was disappointing to lose, I think it's a little extra motivation for the next season and open cup qualifying.
Ah, so guys got a little comfortable then? That will kill you every time. The fall season starts up here pretty quickly. Is there anything your doing in the off season to get ready to finish the deal in the fall season?
To be honest it started creeping in after we scored 23 in the first 4 games. I think what he have done is create a good core of local talent that enjoys playing together and it will become a system where we just plug new guys in as apposed to creating a new roster every season. The big worry is the open cup local qualifying track where we have to keep a majority of the 22 man roster that we submit next month and keep that group working hard until May.
Let's talk about that really quick, US Open Cup Qualifying. How much of a hassle is the current qualifying set up, especially when you have to do regional qualifying?
Fortunately with the team we have put together qualifying shouldn't be the most difficult part we expect to be participating in 2018s open cup. What's going to be difficult is managing the 22 man roster that we submit in September and keeping that team together until May when our goal is to help and encourage essentially our best players to move on to the next level. We also have the factors of injury and the fact we are amateur professional and our guys have jobs outside of us.
What do you think the reasoning is behind the roster freeze for USOC teams? Is it an attempt to keep things competitive?
To be honest I don't completely understand the whole roster freeze continuing once you qualify through the local track.
That's fair. Has it been pretty easy doing all the paperwork to make sure you can enter the USOC?
There are a lot of stipulations you have to follow but it's pretty straightforward and simple.
That's good, I get a lot of questions about the USOC. Now about Las Vegas. I've only been there once and didn't get to see much. What is the local soccer scene like?
There is a huge club soccer scene here with a lot of talent and 2 of the biggest tournaments in the nation, Mayors Cup and Presidents Cup. There wasn't much to offer after that outside of UNLV, but our local JC, College of Southern Nevada, started a soccer team this past year and made it to nationals in their inaugural season. Our Sunday leagues are very competitive with a lot of talent where we actually pulled some of our upsl teams but the league doesn't go much past local pride.
No worries, I've been scare this weekend, sister and her kids in town. Is it difficult getting players for the team, given all the other stuff there is to do in Vegas?
Since working with more local players it's been a process to see who's committed and working with those guys even if they weren't the 18 most talented. So it's been a balance of finding committed players who are talented.
What do you think it will take for the Mobsters, and the UPSL, for that matter, to be long term successes in Las Vegas?
I think the biggest thing is giving the players a platform to move on to the next level and letting them see the process work. If they see players are getting opportunities it will change people's mind drastically. Then naturally having the best talent out there is going to bring the most success we believe.
Great point. Are you hoping to potentially create a talent pipeline with the upcoming Las Vegas USL team?
That's the hope is that there is a relationship there. I think them coming benefits us as much as we can benefit them.
Good line of thinking. If you had to choose, what are the two things you'd most want to accomplish to consider this next season a success?
I think our main goal is to qualify for the open cup and then help some of our players move on.
Ready for some short questions to start wrapping things up?
However you would like to run it works for me.
What's your favorite league and or team to watch for fun?
I would say the EPL and also enjoy watching anything here in the US from MLS to PDL games streamed. My personal favorite teams to watch are Arsenal and Dortmund.
Favorite players: one past, one present.
Present is Jack Wilshere and past is Thierry Henry.
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend to readers?
One book that I just read was Arsenal Yankee. No real specific podcast I religiously listen too.
If you could meet one person from soccer, past or present, who would it be?
Not a huge Manchester United fan but it would have to be Sir Alex Ferguson.
Where can people find more about yourself and the Mobsters online?
The best place would be the website that we just redid and our YouTube channel which will be utilized more this season as we brought in someone to take care of that.
What would you say to someone asking you 'why should I support a local team like the Mobsters?'
The most basic answer would be the style of play we have will always be attractive to watch. We have put together a roster of a majority of the top talent the last 6-7 years to come out of the Las Vegas area looking to make their mark and move to the next level.
Tyler, thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, I'd encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. And if you'd like to read these interviews before everyone else, and make sure you aren't missing anything, click here and sign up for the newsletter. You'll be the first to know when articles are released and learn about other exciting content down the road. Make sure to spread the word by sharing these interviews, telling friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.