By Rod Evans
When Brendan Keyes left his native Ireland to come to the U.S. 30 years ago to pursue his dream of playing professional soccer, he was concerned about only one thing: winning the next match. But as general manager/coach of the Houston Hurricanes FC for the past six years, the fire still burns to win, but he’s also focused on the big picture.
“For me, the most rewarding thing is to see a guy that we’ve developed who’s gone on to play major league soccer somewhere in Europe, which we’ve done on numerous occasions,” Keyes, 51, said.
The Hurricanes compete in the Texas Premier Soccer League (TPSL)—the highest level of the sport in Texas below Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional league that’s home to the Houston Dynamo—and have been under the direction of Keyes since he brought the once proud Hurricanes moniker back to life. After joining the TPSL three seasons ago, the team played its home matches at Lutheran South Academy in Houston, but Keyes says the club has played the current regular season, which wraps up in April, at the Sportsplex in League City due to construction at Lutheran South and is preparing to make the League City site the club’s permanent home.
“The capacity is 500 there, but they’re bringing in bleachers to expand it to 1,500 and building a fence around the field, so it will be our new home ground,” Keyes, a native of Dublin, said.
The roster consists of about 30 players, who Keyes says range from former pro players who are coming to grips with the reality that they may not be able to make it back to the professional ranks due to injury or advancing years, but still want to play on a high level, to players looking to improve their skills in order to earn college soccer scholarships, to teen players from Mexico and other Latin American countries who are focused on turning professional. Players in the nine-team TPSL are not paid salaries.
“I started the team because I wanted to give young guys an opportunity to progress to the next level. I’m an agent also, so I represent my players who are good enough to move on and we’ve had players who have gone on to play around the world,” Keyes said.
The Hurricanes name actually dates back to the late 1970s, when the Houston Hurricanes competed in the North American Soccer League (NASL) and played its matches at the Astrodome. Keyes was a member of the Houston Hurricanes that competed in the USL Pro league in the 1990s prior to starting up the current incarnation of the club.
The team typically plays an 18-match regular season, plus playoffs and also competes in the Texas Cup tournament held annually in April. The 2015-16 TPSL season consists of nine teams, with clubs based in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Eagle Pass, Diboll, Temple and Brownsville. For more information on the Houston Hurricanes FC, call 832-748-1001.