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As soccer gains momentum, local Rovers make big moves

'It's critical we invest in our local development pathways during this time to ensure our region is participating in this positive momentum,' says Simcoe County Rovers CEO

The big names keep rolling in for the Simcoe County Rovers at a time when soccer has gripped the country at a fever pitch.

Canadian international star Cyle Larin has joined the Simcoe County Rovers as a co-owner, adding another high-profile name to the organization’s front office. 

The prolific attacking player for the Canadian national soccer team  as well as the Turkish Super League squad Beşiktaş  has acquired a minority stake in the Rovers Sports and Entertainment Group. As per club policy, financial details of the transaction are not disclosed.

Larin joins fellow Canadian soccer icon Julian de Guzman as a co-owner in the Rovers group, along with several other individuals. 

De Guzman, who serves as president of the Rovers, is Canada’s most capped senior men’s player and the first Canadian to play in Spain’s La Liga.

Rovers CEO and co-owner Peter Raco says the club intends on announcing league status in the near-term for both male and female, with teams fielded for spring 2022. 

“We have built tremendous momentum over the last months with our three youth affiliation agreements established and the hosting of high-performance clinics across the county with professional soccer player David Monsalve,” Raco told BarrieToday. “All three of our youth affiliates are operating reserves teams with Athlete Institute FC participating in League1 Ontario Reserve division this summer and we have hired over 10 paid technical and management staff to help build our club.

"We are eager to continue to announce more news in the coming weeks and months," he added. 

Earlier this summer, Simcoe County Rovers FC were accepted into the Huronia District Soccer Association (HDSA). The club has formalized youth affiliation agreements with some of the top youth programs in the area (Aurora FC, Barrie Soccer, and Athlete Institute FC), representing more than 6,000 youth members.

With the recent Canadian women's gold-medal win at the Summer Olympics in Japan, the quality of talent on the men's team and the country co-hosting the 2026 World Cup, soccer in Canada may never have been hotter.

Raco believes Canada and Ontario soccer is on the upswing and now is the time to push forward with the game.

“It's critical we invest in our local development pathways during this time to ensure our region is participating in this positive momentum," he said. "Between the women’s inspirational gold-medal win and the ongoing men’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers, the world is now taking note of Canadian football.

“We have a proven player pool here in the area," Raco added. "The Barrie Soccer Club continuously has one of the top female programs in the province. We are now bringing in the next layer of top technical resources to create a robust player pathway for our region.”

Larin has scored a record 10 goals for the Canadian national team in 2021, with a total of 18 goals and more than 40 caps. He has netted 32 goals for Beşiktaş in the Turkish Super League since joining in 2017. 

After playing college soccer for the Connecticut Huskies, Larin was the first pick of the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft, joining Orlando City. In his first MLS season, he also broke the record for most goals by a rookie, scoring 17 in 27 games and earning the league's rookie-of-the-year award. 

He played in 89 games and potted 44 goals for Orlando before moving to Beşiktaş for an undisclosed fee in January 2018. 

A full international for Canada since 2014, Larin represented the nation at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021. 

De Guzman was the 2007 Gold Cup most valuable player and also served as the captain of the Canadian men’s national soccer team. 

In addition to a 15-year professional playing career with spells in the Bundesliga (Hannover 96, Germany), La Liga (Deportivo La Coruña, Spain) and MLS (Toronto FC, FC Dallas), De Guzman served as head coach and general manager of the Ottawa Fury before the club’s sale to Miami FC in 2019.

For more information about the Rovers, head to their website by clicking here or find them on Twitter.

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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