Arizona Sahuaros rebrand to Sporting AZ, begin UPSL play in 2017


The United Premier Soccer League announced Saturday that the Arizona Sahuaros have rebranded and become Sporting AZ and will begin play in the league’s Arizona Conference in the Spring 2017 season.

Long-time Sahuaros coach and current Benedictine University assistant Tim Marchisotto will serve as Head Coach and Director of Soccer Operations for Sporting AZ.  The club is owned by Arizona native Barry Rybicki, President of Arizona Operations for EquiAlt, a real estate investment firm.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to play in Arizona, and a fantastic opportunity to allow college players and young players still striving to have a path and place to play, and a league to play in,” Marchisotto said.

The Sahuaros were created in 1989, and have played in several leagues, such as the USL D-3 Pro League, and the Men’s Premier Soccer League (today known as NPSL), which crowned the Arizona club its inaugural champion in 2003. The club produced  MLS stars like Roger Espinoza and Phoenix native Nick DeLeon.

The team plans initially to play at Riverview Park in Mesa, pending field considerations, but is currently in talks with City of Mesa officials and several developers to construct a privately-funded 2,000-seat soccer stadium near the intersection of Center and Broadway, south of downtown Mesa. The facility would also be the home of the Benedictine teams.

“With his experience in growing academy and college programs here in Arizona, Tim Marchisotto is absolutely the right person to lead this club into its next chapter and beyond,” UPSL Commissioner Yan Skwara said. “We are thrilled to add Tim and his staff to our league.”

Sporting AZ joins the Arizona Scorpions, Frontera United, the Phoenix Monsoon, and Super Inter AZ in the Arizona Conference.

The UPSL was formed in Los Angeles in 2011 with the goal of providing a competitive league platform for players seeking to play at higher levels. Today the league is the fastest-growing of its kind in the western United States, and offers the best in pro development soccer. Arranged into five geographic conferences, the UPSL runs two separate seasons. Each season, the top clubs from every conference meet in a playoff series to determine the league champion.

**Full Disclosure: Firebird Rising is owned and published by UPSL Media Consultant Kyle Kepner**