Not Just a Fun Story of the Cup, the Stars are the Real Deal
While they may be relatively new to the soccer scene in the United States, Carl Reynolds is creating something truly magical here in the South. The STARS have grown from being a brand new club based in south Mississippi to being one of the premiere clubs across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Carl Reynolds is as real as they come. His talent on the pitch was no joke, going through the Chelsea, Reading, and Swindon academy systems. His talent that caught many English clubs’ eyes eventually lead the Oxford man to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While studying at William Carey, a NAIA school, Coach Reynolds focused on his education degree to fulfill his dream to be a coach.
Not to say Reynolds was not good enough to play professional soccer, Reynolds was one of the top scorers in the country bagging well over 20 goals in his college career. This lead him to playing for Chattanooga FC, one of the most storied clubs in the United States.
After doing the full tour from being a coach in La Liga with Sporting Gijon and later moving to the MLS to work with the New York Red Bulls. After learning about how the game is played in La Liga to (in his own words) U5 pick up games, Coach Carl Reynolds returned to his new home in Hattiesburg to join his former coach and mentor Nigel Boulton.
When it comes to dedication, there aren’t many people in the world more dedicated that Coach Carl Reynolds. When I asked him to tell me something fun or interesting about him, his answer was, “I have no life!” It’s no joke that he quite literally LIVES at the training facility. Other than spending time with his daughters and his wife, he has built his entire life to giving back to football. The building of The Oakes have not only given the young academy players a Home Away From Home, but also gave Carl Reynolds and his family a literal home. Dedicated.
How Good Are the STARS? How Do They Play?
Well, simply they are really good. They have players from FC Chattanooga (NISA), FC Tulsa (USL-Championship), FC Tucson (USL-League One), Tormenta FC (USL-League One), and even Atlético Nacional (Categoría Primera A). These are players who have played at levels as high as the Legion and even higher in the Colombian Premiere League in Categoría Primera A. Talent has never been an issue at the 3 Stars. Of the players on this team, only 3 have not played a single minute of college soccer. There is real deal talent here. It’s not going to be a walkover or the 3 Sparks.
So, what you’re probably here for. How will they play? How do Legion FC fair? Well, let’s establish one thing. Possession does not equal domination. Coach Reynolds said it himself, “We play football because we want the ball at our feet.” The STARS are going to look to hold possession and strike at their moments.
What kind of comparison are we looking at? Based on my film study and conversations with Carl Reynolds, I would compare it to an “Atlanta United” style. What does that mean exactly? The biggest point of emphasis in this style is possess the ball and don’t “press the issue.”
We see this with Atlanta United II especially all of the time. If the players don’t see the perfect scoring opportunity, then they will pass the ball back to their center backs or their keeper and simply recycle the possession. Eventually through poking and asking questions of the defense, the answer will always be a goal if STARS do their job properly.
In the words of Coach Reynolds, “We respect EVERYBODY.” They don’t switch off against lesser talent, and they treat themselves as equals, even if they are the underdog. Out of respect for their opponents, they will play the STARS brand of football, not a style that works against “better talent.” We saw this against Tulsa Athletic last year in the South Region Championships. Tulsa Athletic are one of the Premiere clubs in the US and are also going through the US Open Cup second round, as well. In that Final, The 3 Stars pushed them to extra time and really were the hardest match Athletic had played all year long.
Honestly, I don’t know. Legion are the “better” team, but this 3 Stars team are based on everything that gives Legion a real struggle. I want to say that Legion pull away with the win, but it will not be a pretty or dominating win. This is a team that was one minute away from penalties against Tulsa Athletic and defeated Naples in a Semi-Final 5-1. The 3 Stars show up for the big matches which leads me to this: Southern States SC Stars are the real deal and will fight for all 90’+.