Mustang resident brings professional soccer to Canadian County
By Kyle Salomon,
Three years ago, Mustang resident Sean Jones and his two friends, Brad Lund and Debray Ayala, started the idea of bringing high-level professional soccer to the Oklahoma City area.
“I have known Brad and Debray for a long time through soccer and soccer-related ventures,” Jones said. “We knew if we could do it right, we would be successful with bringing a professional soccer franchise to Oklahoma City.”
Their dream came true nearly one year ago when the North American Soccer League approved a new professional men’s soccer team that will play at Yukon High School at Miller Stadium starting next March. The team will be called Oklahoma City FC (Futbol Club).
Lund is no stranger to owning professional sports teams as he was a partial owner of the Oklahoma City Blazers when they were the main hockey squeeze in the area.
“We sat down and brainstormed and talked strategy of how we wanted to do this the right way,” Jones said. “We have had some bumps in the road, but all in all, it has been a really smooth process.”
One of those bumps along the way came with a semi-professional women’s soccer team in the Women’s Professional Soccer League. The team played at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City, but was unable to attract enough fans to the games despite the women being talented.
Jones said they learned from that experience and felt if they made several changes to their process, they would be successful.
Along the way, Jones, Lund and Ayala started men’s and women’s amateur teams in the Professional Development League.
Jones said both those teams have been successful.
“We have a lot of local talent on those teams, so the response has been really good. There is a lot of good soccer played in this area, so we knew we could have something special with the two PDL teams. It is the highest level of amateur soccer in this country.”
The two teams play at Oklahoma City University and average roughly 1,000 fans per game.
Jones is no stranger to soccer as he has been around the game all of his life. He grew up in Edmond and along with his brother, helped start the Edmond Soccer Club in 1976 when he was in seventh grade.
Jones is not an Oklahoma native, however. He moved from Ohio to Oklahoma when he was a young boy.
Jones graduated from Edmond Memorial High School in 1982. He helped the Bulldogs win a state championship his senior season, but soccer was not an OSSAA sanctioned sport at the time, so it is not recorded in the record books.
Ironically, the OSSAA decided to honor soccer as a sanctioned sport the following year.
Jones received a scholarship for soccer to Southern Nazarene University where he played for a year before transferring to Oklahoma State University the following year and played on the Cowboys’ club soccer team.
Following his collegiate career, Jones graduated from OSU and started graduate school and continued playing the sport he loves at the semi-professional level. When his playing career was completed, he started coaching high-level club soccer in the area.
Jones became a CPA and runs his own business in the medical field. He and his family moved to Mustang in 1990 and have lived in the community ever since.
Jones has four children, who all played soccer or are still playing soccer. All four of his children played soccer for Mustang High School and were, are and will be MHS graduates.
Jones’ oldest child, Jake, graduated from Mustang in 2009 and went on to play soccer at SNU following in his dad’s footsteps. Alissa graduated from MHS in 2011 and plays soccer at Troy University in Alabama. Lexi just walked across the stage as a Mustang grad this year. She is attending Oral Roberts University in Tulsa this fall on a soccer scholarship. Jaci is the baby of the family and she will be a junior at MHS next fall. She also has plans of playing soccer at the collegiate level.
“It’s such a blessing to have the wonderful kids that I have,” Jones said. “They are all really special, not because they play soccer at such high levels, but because they are amazing people.”
In 1999, the Jones family had the opportunity to watch the United States women’s soccer team win the gold medal live. Jones said it was a great experience for his family and him to witness that special event live.
Jones said if his family wasn’t as much into soccer as they are, he doesn’t know if he would have become the majority owner of the new franchise coming to Canadian County.
The team will be assembled by January before training camp opens in February. The season opens in March. There will be several open tryouts for local talent across the area to come and show their skills.
Jones said the majority of the owners in the NASL view their league as a rival league to the MLS and if the first several seasons go well, they would like to build their own stadium for the OKC FC.
“Canadian County is a great area that I believe is waiting to explode with professional soccer. The income level is great in the county. We expect to have a lot of success with this new team.”