Real Central New Jersey (RCNJ) is in talks with United Soccer League (USL) about moving its current pre-professional programs to the higher-level women’s USL Super League and a professional men’s team in USL League One.
The club already participates in pre-professional leagues with teams in USL League Two for men, Women’s Premier Soccer League for women and USL Academy programs with the club’s youth affiliates for boys and girls. The teams play matches at Mercer County Community College.
“Through its teams in USL League Two and USL Academy, Real Central New Jersey has created a new pathway for top players and strong connections with a community that absolutely loves soccer,” said Justin Papadakis, USL COO and Chief Real Estate Officer via press release. “The club’s leadership has an excellent understanding of the benefits that a professional club could provide to local fans, players, and businesses. We are working with them on the steps needed to achieve that vision.”
To kick off the exploratory efforts, Real Central NJ will host a fan listening session and USA-Iran watch party on Nov. 29.
“We’re excited to meet with soccer fans in Central New Jersey,” said RCNJ partner and Chief Marketing Officer, Jeremy Ryan. “We’re uniquely Jersey, and since Central Jersey is real and not beholden to New York or Philly, our soccer culture should reflect the qualities that are uniquely us.”
RCNJ was founded in 2020 to offer a platform for soccer fans and players access to high-quality soccer viewing and playing opportunities.
“Our pre-professional women’s program provides an opportunity for the top players across Central New Jersey to play in a highly competitive environment throughout the summer months,” said women’s general manager and partner, Ben Chrnelich. “We have been incredibly impressed with the quality of play, player commitment, and success achieved in our first two seasons. Players are increasingly interested in pursuing professional opportunities and we are excited to begin the effort to bring professional-level soccer to players and fans throughout Central Jersey.”
The club has men’s teams in several pre-professional and adult leagues, including USL League Two. The League Two team placed third in its division in the summer of 2022, while the club’s full-year adult team participated in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Amateur qualifying for the first time this September.
“As the club hopes to advance to the professional ranks, it will continue to attract and develop local talent,” says Ira Jersey, men’s general manager and partner, via press release. “A challenge for developing young players in the United States is the lack of local platforms to play professionally close to home and school. Local professional clubs allow players to test themselves at a younger age.”