(Tampa, Fla.) Kaw Valley FC has been named the USL League Two New Franchise of the Year for 2018. President and General Manager Marcus Dudley and Vice President and Associate General Manager Jordan Bass accepted the award at the USL Winter Summit on Tuesday, December 4th. Other announced finalists were Lionsbridge FC, Corpus Christi FC, and San Francisco Glens SC.
2018 was an especially strong year for new franchises, with a number of new clubs turning in strong performances on and off the pitch, including Lionsbridge FC finishing in the top five for total attendance in the league and a number of new clubs in large markets such as San Francisco. The Cranes finished the inaugural season with a 6-6-2 record and are finalists in three 'Golden Scarf' categories - league-wide awards for excellence that will be announced Wednesday, December 5th - for social media promotion, team scarf, and promotional video.
"Kaw Valley FC epitomizes the 'Path to Pro' model of USL League Two," USL League Two Vice President Joel Nash said. "The product they produced both on and off the field in their first year was incredibly impressive and we look forward to seeing them continue to grow in the future."
Alumni from the 2018 squad have already, among other accolades, signed a professional contract (goalkeeper Santiago Restrepo) and won a collegiate national championship (Santiago Sierra and Adrian Gutierrez at Central Methodist University). The Cranes will begin the 2019 season in May with five matches at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence and two matches in Topeka.
"We could not be more humbled to win this award," Dudley said. "It is a testament to our players, coaches, staff, partners, and fans for all their hard work and dedication in our inaugural season. All of the finalists were more than deserving and we thank everyone at the USL for this honor."
(L to R) Vice President/AGM Jordan Bass and President/GM Marcus Dudley accept the 2018 New Franchise of the Year award at the USL Winter Summit