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Stumptown AC debuts new team, groundbreaking head coach
NISA squad kicks off season on April 16
Published Monday, April 12, 2021 9:30 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Stumptown AC, which debuts in the Legends Cup April 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, replaces Stumptown Athletic in the National Independent Soccer Association.

Rod Underwood cracked the glass ceiling in Charlotte soccer.

The newly appointed Stumptown AC head coach is the first Black person to hold such a position in Charlotte soccer history at any professional level. Stumptown plays in the National Independent Soccer Association, a third division league and replaces Stumptown Athletic, which opted out of the rest of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The league decided to rebrand the club rather than lose the market and appointed Fred Matthews interim president, Underwood as head coach and Carrie Taylor head of operations.  

Underwood is no stranger to challenging the status quo. He became the first Black player at Furman in 1985, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also helped establish the Sacramento Republic FC academy in 2015, where he was an assistant coach for the first team and worked with Matthews. Underwood most recently served as technical director and head coach of Montego Bay United FC in Jamaica.

“I have been at this a long time, and the focus at this point is all about how do I continually perpetuate the game forward and move the game forward in a positive way that opens doors for others,” he said.

Also, Underwood said he is less concerned about being the first than focusing on being the best person he can.

“Hopefully it brings attention without asking for attention, and just doing a job that is respected regardless of what I look like or who I am,” he said.

Taylor became the first female coach in the modern era of men’s professional soccer in the United States. She was an assistant as Landon Donovan launched San Diego Loyal SC before resigning in July 2020 to focus on growing the women’s game and help underserved communities gain access to the sport. Taylor is also the first female executive in Charlotte soccer.

The club kicks off the Legends Cup on April 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee in Group 2 against fall champions Detroit City FC and Cal United Strikers FC on April 19. The tournament runs from April 13-25 and consists of groups of three clubs. The winner of the final semifinal match secures a spot in the playoffs during the third phase of the season. Stumptown will play four home and four away games May 1-June 27 during the second phase of the season.

Playoffs and the end of the season will take place June 30-July 3 in Detroit. The semifinals are set for June 30, with the final scheduled for July 3.

Stumptown will train at OrthoCarolina Sportsplex and play at the Sportsplex at Matthews. They have two home dates in May and two in June: May 12 vs. Los Angeles Force, May 22 vs. Cal United Strikers FC, June 22 vs. 1904 FC and June 25 vs. Michigan Stars FC.


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