The Cleveland Crunch are set to return to professional indoor soccer next November. They will join the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) for the 2021-22 campaign. Fans hope the new Crunch can replicate the success of the previous team; where Cleveland saw multiple division and conference titles along with winning the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) championship in 1994, 1996 and 1999. Although fans of Cleveland sports often overlooked the Crunch, before the Cavs championship run in 2016, these NPSL titles represented the only championships in Cleveland since the Browns won the title back in 1964.
Majority owner/president Eric Davis, no relation to the former slugging Cincinnati Reds outfielder, began the process of resurrecting indoor soccer in Cleveland back in May. In an interview with bgn.fm, Davis said,
“I decided to take a picture of both my Cleveland Force and Cleveland Crunch shirts side-by-side and posted it on my Instagram Story as a poll to my followers – ‘If it was up to you, which pro indoor soccer team would you bring back to Cleveland?’ The poll was a success and the results favored heavily with the Crunch (obviously) […] Throughout my research efforts, I figured out that the trademark for the brand had been ruled “DEAD” since 2001. This lead [sic] me to immediately change my established LLC in the state of Ohio, at the time sitting there vacant from my previous job, to reflect the Cleveland Crunch, LLC. My business partner, Luciano Ruscitto – VP of Operations, and I invested in purchasing the TM after we established our new Cleveland Crunch brand identity. Since then, the rest has picked up immensely quicker than we ever imagined in this new endeavor.”
To that end, Davis has seen the front office side of things grow to 10 team members. This group will cover the basic business of running a professional franchise. The team has not hired a coaching staff as of this date, but Crunch legend and current John Carroll University men’s soccer coach Hector Marinaro has taken on an advisory role for the organization. One wonders if any other former Crunch legends, for example, Zoran Karic, will be attached to the new iteration.
The organization has yet to determine where to play their home games. The former Crunch played in Richfield Coliseum (now demolished) from 1989-92 and the Cleveland State University Convocation Center (now Wolstein Center) from 1992-2005. Along with the coaching staff and venue, the front office will announce the roster at a later date.
Keep checking clesportstalk.com as new information emerges.