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Meet the Company that Wants to ‘Knock the Suburbs’ Out of US Soccer, and Bring Back the Soul of the

Updated: Oct 22, 2019

“The way U.S. soccer is running is pure corporate bullsh*t,” says Kevin Eagleston, former soccer pro, proud soccer dad, and co-founder of Electric Futsal.

I nod as Eagleston, aka Eagle, munches on a gluten-free pizza in a Koreatown PizzaRev, across the street from the private school where he is athletic director. Eagleston is a dirty-blond 40-something with sun-kissed Southern California skin and the toned build of a surfer. His boyish energy bely the heavy labor he invests in soccer on a daily basis, and the seriousness of his opinions on how to best change soccer culture in the U.S.

“They’ve lost the love and the reason that these kids are playing ball,” he says, referring to U.S. Soccer's profit-driven elitists. "They’re forgetting about the development of these kids, and that’s why we started Electric Futsal.”

Electric Futsal is an LA-based event and apparel company, the sports love child of Eagleston, Matt Jarvis, and Sacha van der Most van Spijk, who share a philosophy that the game should be accessible, local, and develop players on multiple levels.

Eagleston grew up playing on the streets of Southeast Asia where his family lived in 10 countries over the course of 13 years. “The kids play in the streets, there wasn’t fields. We’d play on the pavement in small little areas.” Access to soccer was, as it is in many countries, organically everywhere, a direct contrast to the culture of American soccer.

“As a coach, I don’t even have places to go train kids. I can’t get in on nice fields,” Eagleston explained. “I firmly believe that the U.S. needs 600,000 futsal courts all over the United States. We need to give a place for kids to play without being coached.”

While street soccer and futsal are often building blocks for elite players worldwide, that kind of everyday, small-sided play is simply not integrated in U.S. soccer culture, nor is it acknowledged widely by the U.S. soccer system.

The high barrier for entry into U.S. soccer proper is taking its toll on player development and the nation’s soccer community at large. This was most painfully clear during USMNT’s notorious World Cup face plant, something Eagleston calls "a blessing in disguise.” And he's not alone in his condemnation of a broken U.S. soccer system. Who could forget Taylor Twellman’s epic rant after the embarrassing 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago. And one doesn't need to dive deep into the cold interwebs to witness the world’s savage opinion of the state of U.S. soccer.

“We’re losing the creativity. We’re creating robots that don’t understand the freedom of the sport. That’s what we’ve lost. I think street soccer and futsal will help to bring that back,” Eagleston added.

Eagleston credits his futsal and street soccer experience for his success, from a full scholarship to Chico State, to a career with the USISL, and a stint with a third division team in France. His son is currently in the U-12 LA Galaxy Academy, but it hasn’t always been an easy road for them.

Youth soccer costs upwards of $3,000 per year in the U.S., and even more for those who want to compete at the highest levels, particularly to be scouted for college. For many families, that cost is simply not an option. Eagleston recalls a time not long ago when he had to pay for his son’s soccer fees and couldn’t afford rent. He and his partners are committed to challenging this cost-prohibitive mold.

Electric Futsal is currently in its third year and hosts street soccer tournaments throughout L.A., most recently in DTLA where 48 teams in seven age brackets competed in high-intensity, fast-paced, four-on-four street soccer.

“They play beautiful soccer, it’s not like U.S. soccer which is super direct,” said Jerry Ying, as we watched his daughter Chayse and her all-girls club Tudela FC go shoulder to shoulder against the all-male competition. “They train futsal on Fridays, they’re a very technical team, and they make sure to play small-sided soccer.”

Beautiful soccer is exactly what's at the heart of the Electric Futsal movement. It's a push to rediscover the soul and joy of the game—improvisation, creativity, pace, technical prowess, and individual expression.

“I would love for an American style of play to emerge that’s expressive and free-flowing and creative,” said Jarvis, a soccer enthusiast and CEO of the renowned ad agency 72andSunny.

“We want to knock the suburbs out of American soccer,” Jarvis explained. “Nothing brings people together like soccer in its universality. I love community and points of connection. I want more people and more communities to have that joy.”

Jarvis first met “Eagle” when their kids were playing AYSO. At that time, Jarvis was just starting his company, and Eagleston was running Soccer City, now known as LA Galaxy Center. Jarvis expressed his frustration having to drive exorbitant lengths for his son to play, and hired Eagleston to look into building a local facility on the west side. While those plans did not materialize, they continued Electric Futsal as an event company, and along with Sacha carry out a mission of igniting a culture of street soccer in America.

“What we’re doing is so fundamental. We think that playing close to your homes and out on the streets we’re going to create better players,” said Sacha, who is also a scout for the Mexico Youth National Team and was formerly director of the Chivas USA youth development program. “Where we can make a lot of improvements is by making the game an integrated game instead of a segregated game. If you work on local and regional results you can start creating clubs where you have youth and adults within the same organization.”

Having youth play up with adults is central to player development, and is something that Sacha hopes to implement in the U.S. system. His non-profit Home Field Advantage takes that philosophy of intergenerational learning to local high schools, where they equip student athletes with coaching curriculum so they can then run after school programs at elementary schools in their own neighborhood.

“All of these youth clubs should have adult teams as well so if you’re 16, 17, 18 and you’re a good player, you need to continue to be challenged. So playing them up against adults is the way to go.”

As Eagleston dips the last bites of pepperoni pizza into a tub of Ranch, he reflects on the current state and future trajectory of American soccer.

“Obviously the U.S. thinks they’re the king of the world, and the funny thing is, soccer is the last thing that everybody wants us to succeed at,” he declares matter-of-factly. "I feel and I’m excited about changing everyone’s viewpoint and realizing that we are able to compete on the world level. Everyone thinks that the U.S. is awful in soccer and we’re not, and I see it changing every day, and I think futsal and street soccer really can have a big impact on that.”

Electric Futsal will be hosting events in NorCal, San Diego, the OC, and Venice. For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Home Field Advantage

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