Free Agency at Gotham Soccer League
by Roger Stevenson, July, 2022
A question we get a lot at Gotham Soccer is what does it mean to register as a Free Agent? How does the process work? When you are new to town, or all of your friends are busy having kids or other commitments, joining a new team is a great way to meet new people. And joining Gotham as a Free Agent (individual) is a good solution to getting out on the pitch.
Gotham Soccer is different from many indoor complexes or other leagues, where we view our central mission as promoting soccer culture, and as part of that, introducing players to one another is one of the best ways we know to do that. That means we try to place everybody wanting to play on a team, and so far in 2022, we’ve helped between 500-600 individual players per season get out on pitches in all the cities we operate in. We do this in two ways.
We do try to connect players with existing teams when teams reach out and ask for help in filling their rosters. And we make sure to confirm a player’s commitment before the introduction to a team by collecting the league dues before making the assignment. And this is one of the biggest questions we get, “Can I be placed on a good team?” Mixed in with direct requests to join the previous season’s champions in the division the person wants to join. Unfortunately for new players joining the league, more often than not, those teams are the ones with solid rosters with players in each of the positions they need a player in and have not reached out to us for help in finding players.Typically speaking we get requests for 1-5 players for a season in each division, often times with specific requirements on who they are looking for, a goalkeeper, or a female player. By percentage, we place 10% of free agents in this way.
The other 90% of the time, joining as a free agent means you are placed on a “Free Agent” team, which translates to most of the players not knowing each other before the season begins. These teams do work best when there’s a “core” group of players and we always keep groups of players together, so if you have friends, but not enough for a full team, shoot us their contacts and we’ll group you together to get you on the same team.
We do understand there can be challenges on these teams; with personalities, too many people turning up each game, too few turning up, players not in the right positions, general lack of coordinated play, etc., and we do try to balance teams when we are able. Having 3 goalkeepers on a team doesn’t make sense and we can normally find a home for goalkeepers when we know of a situation like this. The important thing about a Free Agent team is it’s a start, an introduction to a new group of players. And we find the statistics back up the effort we put into forming the teams. Of our Free Agent teams, 31% continue on as a Free Agent team the following season, meaning they continue to pay as individuals but the majority of the players on the team continue. A further 20% of the Free Agent teams move on to control their own roster and pay as a team in subsequent seasons.
Occasionally, we run into situations in a division where we have a few players register and confirm their interest by paying, but not enough to create a team and no teams asking for additional players. In these situations we do present other options that a player can play in where we do have room. But if we can’t place somebody, we do refund 100% of the league dues paid. This happens about 2% of the time based on the past year.
Here’s some quotes from prior Free Agents:
“I joined Gotham Soccer as a free agent along with a handful of friends in the fall of 2021. Right away we felt integrated with the team and the league, and I progressed to managing that free agent team, which has played together every season since. Roger and Eliot are always available to answer questions, and they run a fun, respectful and competitive league. Looking forward to many more seasons with Gotham Soccer!” - Sasha, NYC
“When I moved to Cincinnati for work I registered with several leagues in the city. Jeremy got back to me quickly and got me on a team playing at Stargel Stadium. We were all new to the league and while we weren’t great that first season, it was really fun. Five years later our team is still together and it’s been a great league to play in each season!” - Rachel, Cincinnati
- Nov 20th 2020
- Check back here as we prepare for the new season with guidelines to keep everyone healthy.
Guide to play levels
- Just starting out
- Have played in casual leagues
- Played in high school, still in shape
- Very Competitive
- Played collegiate or higher