Honey, set the plates – there’s a new guest at the MLS dinner table.
After literally minutes of negotiations, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced in Kentucky on Monday that the United States’ most delicious state will become home to a new outfit, to begin play in the 2014 season – Kentucky Football Club, nicknamed KFC, is the league’s 20th franchise.
“We are proud to welcome Kentucky, the second-tastiest place in the world and a leader in turkey and deer populations in the U.S. Kentucky residents are deeply passionate about the world’s game,” Garber said early morning on Monday, April 1st.
Sander Pollo, owner of a fried-chicken restaurant in the state and a former colonel in the U.S. Marines, will also assume ownership of the expansion team, which will play at a newly constructed soccer-specific stadium, called Bucket Stadium. The natural grass venue (with no artificial ingredients) will be the host of 20,000 devoted fans, many of whom enjoy the skin and meat of the game, and describe soccer in the city as a “finger lickin’ good time.”
"I had a chance to sit down with Garber over a chicken dinner,” Pollo said. "He complained to me that things in New York were taking too long and he really wanted another team. I told him if he needs expansion to heat up, I can throw my name in the basket and get things done in four months, five months tops."
Kentucky FC becomes the 17th American team in MLS, following on the heels of the Portland Timbers in 2011.
The addition of Kentucky FC has been in discussion for less than one would expect, and whispers grew especially loud when I was told to write an article for April 1st.
"I truly believe the league needed a team in Kentucky, even though we don’t have a massive population like New York or a large soccer-loving core like in Miami,” Pollo said. "This state doesn’t really offer much in terms of, well, soccer, and the business people are a greasy bunch, but we’ll find a way to win by the skin of our teeth from time to time."
Kentucky FC is set to take part in the expansion draft during the offseason.
“Our philosophy in team building is simple,” said Pollo. “We’re looking for players who have good legs, preferably strong on the wings. We need players who aren’t afraid to put their bodies on the line, even if it means bruises on their breasts or thighs.”
When asked if the club had hired a head coach or shortlisted any players yet, Pollo refused to answer, telling media, “our original squad recipe of 11 players and a coach is a trade secret. We can’t patent it, but we will protect this secret recipe.”
Kentucky has an indifferent history of supporting the beautiful game and was home to various high school and college teams. Before Pollo was appointed, Toronto mayor Rob Ford was in the running to take over as general manager of KFC, but his application was quickly retracted after his agent revealed that Ford misread the job description.
The Pollo family has been involved in the sport since yesterday.
“After about 0 history-making years, our team and sport has surged forward like a twister,” Pollo said. “Our team has evolved and our sport is now major. As a Kentucky native, I am extremely proud of the acquisition of an MLS franchise. This is what Kentucky deserved: a great league at an affordable price.”
As expected, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen will sponsor Kentucky FC.
You can tweet your support for Kentucky FC using the hashtags #KFC and #KFClive.