Goshen City Football Club

Goshen City FC Back For Year Two!

Published March 2024

Henrique Eichenberger
Henrique Eichenberger

Founder – Goshen City FC

Chasing Dreams, Filling Stands in Goshen

Henrique Eichenberger, a GC alum and the founder and president of the UPSL’s Goshen City Football Club, looks to follow up on a wildly-successful first season of semi-pro soccer in Goshen

One of my favorite highlights from last year’s first season of the Goshen City Football Club was when we played our first home game in Goshen.

Our first four games as new members of the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) were on the road, and it was a rough start for a brand new organization like ours—we lost three out of those first four games.

When our first home game came around at the Goshen College Soccer Complex I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was an absolute dream come true. We won by a big margin, and it set us on a path of success for the rest of the season that nobody had quite anticipated. But more than winning that first home game, I was shocked by the crowd turnout and the support we received. We had over 500 people in the stands; there was tremendous energy and excitement; people were buying jerseys—it felt like we really were home.

A winning trajectory

We didn’t lose another game during the rest of the regular season. We finished with five wins, two draws, and three losses under our head coach Tyler Born and we made it all the way to the UPSL Midwest Central Playoff Finals. We lost to Chicago Nation FC in the 2023 title match, but it was a remarkable first year.

We kick off the 2024 season, April 11th, at the Goshen College Soccer Complex against the Chicago Fire FC Academy, the reserve squad of the Chicago Fire (of the MLS), and we look forward to building upon 2023.

Adapting the dream

I came to the United States from Brazil to fulfill my dream of being a professional soccer player. After some time at a junior college in Virginia I had a scholarship offer from Goshen College and I transferred there in 2019.

I felt at home at Goshen College, and in Goshen, right away. The culture of Goshen is one that embraces people from other places. That’s not the case everywhere I’ve been. As a player and three-year captain at Goshen College we didn’t have our best years as a program, but the experience made me grow and mature and helped me understand the importance of adapting my dreams and expectations. I met a great girl named Paige Renshaw, a player on the Goshen College women’s soccer team, who is now my wife and we are blessed to have a 4-month old baby boy named Matias.

So, my experience in Goshen has been something of a modern-day love story.

My experiences here also led me to create the Goshen City FC. I’d noticed that—even though Goshen has a lot of soccer—when summers came around there wouldn’t be a lot of great options for serious players to train and compete and grow over the warmer months. I thought Goshen would be a great place to host a team, and in 2022 I started working on a plan to create a semi-professional team right here in Goshen.

Goshen City FC
Henrique Eichenberger
Goshen City FC at the Goshen College Soccer Complex
GCFC Community Engagement
Henrique and Paige Eichenberger
Goshen City FC

Photos courtesy of Henrique Eichenberger/Goshen City FC

Plan the work, work the plan

In the summer of 2022 I played for a semi-pro club in Ligonier called Fox United, and it inspired me; it gave me the feeling that I could do something like that here in Goshen. I took a deep dive down the rabbit hole researching the history of soccer in Elkhart County and looking at the numbers; thinking about prices and budgets.

I started talking to business professors in the Goshen College Business Department, and it all just grew out from there. Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus became a supporter of my idea, and then-mayor Jeremy Stutsman loved the idea of a semi-pro soccer team centered around community, and he and others—including Jim Alvarez and Gilberto Perez—helped me to organize my vision and bring everything to fruition.

Building community, on and off the pitch

The goal is to grow Goshen City FC; we’d love to have a women’s club in the near future and we’d love to have an under-19 or 20 squad. And, of course, developing into a winning organization is the plan—we’d love to someday grow into the ranks of a professional club. But short-term, it’s very important that we stress the importance of community engagement and involvement. Every player on the club has an obligation to spend time involved in the community. We’ve volunteered at First Fridays, we’ve volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and we do walk-ins before games with kids from local soccer clubs.

When a team is involved in the community, and exists not just to try and win titles but for the purpose of making its host city better—to represent and entertain its residents—that creates a very strong bond. When there is a connection like that it goes beyond wins and losses, and that’s what we strive to build here in Goshen.

We’re working on creating a fan club, we want to have noise and energy and chanting in the stands. I feel like we are growing Goshen City FC into a great atmosphere and we hope to keep it going.

New year, new opportunity

We’re excited for season two, Coach Born—who played for four years at Goshen College, and won a state title with Goshen High School in 2014—is back to lead the squad and we have some great talent on our roster from all over the world. We’ll have some great leadership with Jonathan Boye, from South Bend, Indiana, Tim Wilkening from Germany—who served as an assistant coach for Goshen City FC last year while recovering from injury—and the return of Kevin Cruz, a captain from last year.

We have a great mix of current and former Goshen College players, area players, and players from around the world. We’re a seperate entity from Goshen College, but we benefit so much from our partnership with them, and from partnerships with local entities like Goshen Stars, the Goshen Soccer Academy, the South Side Soda Shop, The Goshen Chronicles, and Sportlight Social Media Hub.

Our sponsors InterCambio Express, the City of Goshen, Everence, and Genesis Products have been amazing and have played a big role in our success, and we’re proud that the one and only Goshen Brewing Company is also now a sponsor; we look forward to building more of those relationships.

It’s strange to think that I started working on all of this a few years ago and it’s come so far. When you put so much effort into bringing something to life, it’s a great feeling to watch it take flight. I’m so happy I wound up in Goshen, and excited to see the Goshen City Football Club continue to grow and become an even bigger part of the Goshen and Elkhart County community.

Goshen City FC was founded in the spring of 2022 by Henrique Eichenberger, who at the time was a college student at Goshen College. Goshen City FC strives to compete at a high level while also contributing to the community and inspiring the next generation of soccer players. Players are required to do at least one community service project and the club volunteers for non-profit organizations, such as DGI First Fridays, to ensure it contributes to the greater good of the community. Goshen City FC allows children under 12 years old to attend games for free and the club also hosts walk-ins with young, local players to inspire the next generation. To learn more about Goshen City FC, visit https://goshencityfc.com/.

Written by Jake Sandock