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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WAUWATOSA — Hours before an early-season soccer match at Hart Park, Andreas Davi arrived in a blue sweatsuit. Like most of his days, this Friday had been a long one.
At 5:30 a.m., Davi, the owner of a gym in Glendale, taught a workout class. At 5:30 p.m., Davi, the former German professional soccer player for Bayer Leverkusen who can still kick it with the best of them, came to the field to do just that — kick it with the best of those in Milwaukee, that is.
Davi's title as owner and coach of the recently founded Milwaukee Torrent has provided that opportunity, yet he hopes it provides much more for others.
"I started the Torrent for our kids," Davi said. "I know there's the Milwaukee Wave, but for outdoor soccer there was nothing for kids to look up to before this."
Since the Milwaukee Rampage dissolved in 2002 and the Milwaukee Wave United outdoor team quit playing in 2004, there hasn't been an outdoor soccer outlet for young soccer fans, nor a local outlet for former college soccer players wanting to continue their careers.
That's why Davi jumped at the opportunity when National Premier Soccer League chairman Joe Barone reached out in 2015. Barone asked if Davi would be interested in starting a team that would play in the NPSL (a league that boasts 14 conferences and 96 teams).
Within 48 hours after the initial call, Davi had a sponsor lined up and a logo designed.
In time, he held the rights to the franchise purposely not named for "beer, cheese or bricks," Davi said, which he felt was a must for the organization to differentiate itself and attract families.
By 2016 the Torrent (2-6-3) began competition, and by 2018 Davi will launch a women's team.
When voicing his opinion that the Torrent is a professional soccer organization, Davi pointed to the Torrent's "six-digit budget" funded by sponsors and the fact his players are salaried. Many players in the league are collegiate players and unpaid, though, so the U.S. Soccer Federation hasn't given the league an official designation.
Peter Wilt, a Marquette University graduate who once held the title of chief executive officer of Milwaukee Professional Soccer LLC, a group that longed to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Milwaukee that never materialized, terms the Torrent "semi-pro."
Regardless, "it doesn't matter what level it is," Davi said. "This is the beginning, and that is the important part."
Wilt agreed, which is why he's attended a number Torrent games, including a trip to Detroit. He relishes the atmosphere both at Leff's Lucky Town before the games and Hart Park during. He appreciates the quality.
Wilt, former president and general manager of MLS' Chicago Fire, believes a team in the second or third tier of U.S. Soccer is feasible, which is Davi's ultimate goal.
For now, a team in the NPSL works just fine for fans like Patrick Morgese, a 37-year-old Milwaukee native who played soccer as a youth.
With the clock ticking toward the 90th minute against the Muskegon Risers in late May, one of those players, Menomonee Falls native and former UW-Green Bay midfielder Tony Patterson, scored on a bicycle kick.
Wilt and Morgese were among the hundreds in attendance who exploded when the goal hit the net. It marked the team's first win of the year.
A number of fans, both young and old, gathered as the team and Davi walked off of the field.
He set to embrace with them all, but high-fives to the blue-clad kids came first.
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