Eight fields (soon to be 10), 300 teams, 6,500 players, coaches, fans a week
The RGV Barracudas will be celebrating their 20th anniversary next year.
So how is it that the club, which was founded as an outdoor program in 2004, has become one of the indoor soccer capitals of the sport?
Barracudas Park sees somewhere between six and seven thousand players, coaches and fans pass through their eight arena fields each week. It’s become so popular that not one but two new additional fields are already on the drawing board, according to Oscar Ruvalcaba, the club’s president.
“I think we are one of the biggest indoor leagues in the United States. We have over 300 teams,” Ruvalcaba said. “Many residents in Brownsville really appreciate the indoor game. They like that the game moves fast and they accepted it very well.’
Actually, those that play and watch actually come from more than just Brownsville. They come from Matamoros, Mexico, Port Isabell, McAllen, Edinburg, pretty much all over the Rio Grande Valley. Players are young as three, and some in their 60s, still suit up on a weekly basis.
“I’ve been down there each of the past two seasons, and it’s phenomenal to see,” M2 Commissioner Chris Economides said. “Brownsville families love the arena game. To see so many fields jam packed with kids and adults every day is testament to just how popular the game can be. They love it, and the Barracudas are a great representative for M2.”
The Barracudas trace their pro indoor history to their debut in the 2014-15 MASL season as the Brownsville Barracudas. After a one-year hiatus, the team came back as the RGV Barracudas FC for the 2018-19 MASL season, before going on hiatus again.
The team has been a proving ground for a number of current MASL stars including Florida Tropics Captain Victor Parreiras, and long-time teammate Ricardo Diegues Moises Gonzalez, the high-scoring forward for Utica City FC, is another alumni. He had 30 goals for the Barracudas in 2018-19 and currently plays for the Baltimore Blast.
Other stars who have suited up for RGV include Genoni Martinez, Efrain Martinez and Mitchell Cardenas. Most recently, as the official affiliate of the Monterrey Flash, Gustavo Rosales moved up to M1 from the Barracudas, after scoring nine goals and adding four assists in 10 RGV starts.
Rubalcava said he didn’t even start thinking seriously about the indoor game until just a little over a decade ago. His calls to soccer officials went unreturned for a while until Kevin Miliken of the PASL finally dialed him up.”
“I applied, They ignored me, so I applied again. They said no,” he recalled about trying to get a pro outdoor team. “One day a friend said, 'what about indoor soccer?' I knew a little about indoor but I never tried to do it. But once he said that, I’m the kind of person that if I like something, no one can stop me, That was back around 2007, 2008. He put it on my brain. I studied the game, and I thought I’d like to try it. I built one field and had four teams. Kevin is the one who gave us an opportunity and now here we are today,” he added.
(M2 Commissioner Chris Economides with Ruvalcaba and Club Deportivo De Baja California's Alex Monmar during a recent visit to Barracudas Park.)
The Barracudas have traditionally been strong in M2, and are again this year, in the hunt for a spot in the league’s Championship Weekend March 31 and April 1. Last year, they lost to the eventual champion San Diego Sockers 2 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs in a game that went to overtime.
“I’m really enjoying M2. I really like Chris and the league, how they operate in helping and building the teams,” Rubacalva added.