Long Beach has a storied history of minor league, semi-pro and amateur sports franchises coming to this diverse athletic community looking to start something unique. The latest is Shoreline United FC, and what makes this attempt different is that its four founders met at Cal State Long Beach’s sports management master’s program.

Plenty of people who went to college can remember the late-night conversations with friends about the bar or local business they wanted to start together when they all graduated. Brandon Brum, Sebastian De Smedt, Shahob Mehr and Willie L. Alexander III are actually doing it with Shoreline United FC.

“There are so many people in Long Beach who are soccer enthusiasts,” De Smedt said. “We want to create a soccer community for our club.”

Shoreline United FC is joining the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) for a season that starts in February.

The UPSL was founded in Santa Ana in 2011 by a local club coach. It started as a regional league for teams in and around Los Angeles, but it’s expanded to more than 400 teams from 41 states. The league is split into conferences based on location and divisions where teams try to move up by performing well.

In their bid to get Shoreline United FC up and running, De Smedt is in charge of operations, Mehr runs communications, Brum is concentrating on getting sponsorships and cultivating the fan experience while Alexander III handles community outreach and digital marketing.

“We want to bring a show,” Alexander III said. “We want a great game environment where the fan experience is heavily thought about.”

Soccer and football social media accounts have been showing a lot of crazy fan experiences, including a penalty kick attempt after running through an obstacle course. The Shoreline United FC founders aren’t ruling anything out.

“We can be really creative,” Alexander III said.

The four friends have stayed in touch since graduating from the sports management program at CSULB in 2017. A few years later, De Smedt showed his friends a first-person account of starting a UPSL team.

“The lightbulb moment for us was reading that article,” Alexander III said. “It showed us this is tangibly possible. We could pull this off.”

Shoreline United FC now has to fund its league fees, equipment purchases and marketing costs by getting sponsors and attracting fans. They predict it will cost between $10,000 and 15,000 to get the club off the ground and into the 2024 season.

“We need the support of the community but we also want to bring the community into the club to reflect what they want and how they envision it,” De Smedt said.

There is still a lot of work left to be done with tryouts, hiring coaches and finding a permanent place for home games, but the founders are confident they can find answers to the big questions by asking the local community.

“We really want to be close to the fans,” De Smedt added. “We want to listen to them and make it like a family club, … like they are in Europe where I grew up with soccer in my roots.”

All four Shoreline United FC founders played soccer their whole lives so that passion for the sport comes naturally.

Alexander III was actually headed to play college soccer when a fantastic track season gave him an opportunity to come to CSULB. During his freshman year, while winning an All-Big West Conference award in the long jump, Alexander III was still thinking about going back to play soccer because he missed it too much.

That also means the founders are dialed in on how they want their club to play. Currently, the stylish trend is a high-pressure mentality to get more chances for goals.

“We want to make a statement, show who we are and make this community proud,” De Smedt said. “We’re here to grow. We’re starting in the UPSL Division One but our goal is to climb up to the Premier Division and see how far we can get.”

Part of the mission statement for Shoreline United FC states, “We are dedicated to creating a team that represents the diverse and vibrant community of Long Beach and to build a soccer culture that celebrates the beauty, passion, and excitement of the sport.”

More information about public tryouts and sponsorship opportunities is available on the Shoreline United FC website and Instagram.