The National Premier Soccer League announced Thursday night that Denton Diablos FC has joined the league as an expansion team.
The club, which will be based in Denton, Texas, will begin competition in the South Region’s Lone Star Conference in 2019.
“It is very exciting to see the Lone Star Conference continue to grow with Denton Diablos FC,” NPSL Chairman Joe Barone said. “Texas is a true hotbed of American soccer and we are extremely happy for the NPSL to have a stronger presence there.”
Denton Diablos FC is a 50/50 partnership between Aspiro Agency, a Denton-based digital marketing agency owned by Damon Gochneaur and Playbook Management International, a Frisco, Texas-based sports management company owned by Michael Hitchcock.
The ownership group combines a committed local and successful local business owner in Gochneaur, who is entrenched in the Denton community on many levels and connected to University of North Texas with Hitchcock, who brings more than 20 years of professional soccer management experience and a passion for community-based, professional soccer clubs to the Denton Diablos.
“While we certainly have high expectations regarding the quality of our play and the results on the pitch, we understand that building a club the right way, that’s a part of the fabric of the community, takes time,” Gochneaur said. “So while we’re absolutely committed to the pursuit of all the goals we have laid out for the club, from selling out home games, to winning the conference, to making deep runs in the U.S. Open Cup, we understand winning is a process, and we’ve only just begun that process.”
A 2003 graduate of the University of North Texas, Gochneaur has spent nearly his entire life working and living in Denton County, playing, coaching, and supporting the sport. Gochneaur grew up playing the game in Lewisville, Texas before graduating to the Dallas Classic League and performing for the Dallas Texans and the Dallas Comets. He captained his Flower Mound Marcus High School soccer team and the Comets.
Gochneaur played two years of collegiate soccer at Missouri Valley College until an injury changed his soccer fortunes and brought him back to Denton to finish his studies at UNT.
“The NPSL is the strongest national soccer league in the U.S. for a community-centric club like the Denton Diablos to grow the game in Denton,” Gochneaur said. “We looked for a league that offered stability, history, quality of play, quality of administration, a strong desire to grow the game, and a solid plan for the future. There was only one clear and obvious answer.”
Hitchcock started his journey in soccer management 22 years ago with D.C. United. He spent 13 years in Major League Soccer as a LA Galaxy vice president and president/general manager for FC Dallas and Pizza Hut Park. Hitchcock left MLS nine years ago and launched Playbook Management International, a sports management company that works with hand-selected clients in the U.S. and around the world.
Through PMI, Hitch has ownership interest in Alfreton Town FC (National League in the United Kingdom), Tobago FC Phoenix (Trinidad & Tobago), Napa Valley 1839 FC (NPSL), Fort Worth Vaqueros FC (NPSL) and Professional Futsal League (PFL).