2023 Expansion Side, BattleBorn FC, Out to Make a Name for Itself and Nevada
Published Jun 3, 2023

Written By:  Katie Parker | WPSL Correspondent


Andrew Robles grew up in Compton, California as one of eight people living in a two bedroom house. His parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador and Mexico. He learned early on the grit, make-it-work attitude and faith you need in order to succeed as an underdog.

That disposition and his love for soccer are why he’s a product of the MLS Chivas USA Academy, a Northern Nevada ODP coach, founder of a youth soccer program called Let’s Kick It, and now the Sporting Director, Co-Founder and Head Women’s Coach of the WPSL 2023 Pac North Expansion club BattleBorn FC.

Photo by: Andressa Cholodovskis
Andrew Robles, BattleBorn FC head coach, co-founder, sporting director

It’s also the same determination that helped him lead a young team, arguably full of underdogs themselves, to victory in the club’s first ever WPSL match. The historic night was not without its share of challenges however - challenges that began way before kickoff.

BattleBorn FC is located in Reno, Nevada and depending on traffic, is just under an hour’s drive from Lake Tahoe or Carson City - Nevada’s state capital. There aren’t really any in-between cities for soccer talent to come in from.

“People visit from all over the world to come [to Tahoe] to enjoy the lake - the beauty of it. And then you have the Reno nightlife,” Robles said. “So there's definitely something special here in the mountains.

There also aren’t a ton of high level soccer programs nearby. There are some junior colleges and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) which competes in the NCAA. As a new team, recruiting players and getting the word out has been one of the toughest obstacles.

BattleBorn’s challenges led right up to the start of the game. The club’s men’s side played first in the double header evening that saw an injury delay the final whistle which kicked the women’s game off to a late start. Then, the planned livestream of the team’s first ever match fell through. And lastly, their roster was at near dire numbers - in part because they’re still building the team, but also because multiple players weren’t able to be there…and one was stalled on the side of the road with a flat tire.

“I had exactly 14 [players], which is the league minimum standard, but from those 14 there were two girls that were injured,” Robles said. “Just managing players, managing time, it’s the behind the scenes that people don't get to see. But it’s cool, it makes a real story, right? It makes the sport fun, you know, like how am I going to figure this out?”

Photo by: Andressa Cholodovskis

BattleBorn’s roster is composed mostly of local talent eager for a chance to prove themselves but Robles is still looking for players to fill out the remaining spots on the roster. When FC Davis’ team began to arrive after so much stress and anticipation, even Robles allowed doubt to creep in.

“I see his girls coming all together and they had the Sac State backpacks, the UC Davis, the Chico State,” Robles said. “Then the game started and it just went back to just basic soccer. How to manage formations and stuff like that and after that I was cool. I was like, all right, I can compete.”

Davis had a lot of chances, but struggled to finish. The first goal of the match came in the 30’ from BattleBorn’s Alyssa Grundy - Lake Tahoe Community College’s all-time program leader. Davis’ Tiffany Miras, Sacramento State alumna, answered nine minutes later to tie it up. But it was BattleBorn’s Rylee Husted, an incoming sophomore at Truckee Meadows Community College, who found the back of the net just before half to ultimately secure the historic 2-1 victory.

“Before [the match] my whole pep talk, I was trying to be like a good coach and start out with the positive. ‘We win, good job - we still got to go back and train,’” Robles said. “‘But if we lose, who cares? We're a young team, we have a lot [of room] to grow.’”

Photo by: Andressa Cholodovskis

After the game though, Robles made sure his team understood the gravity of what they had just accomplished. From this season, he hopes his players can gain exposure and validation.

“The local talent can compete,” Robles said. “and it's just as basic as that sounds.”

BattleBorn FC was designed to be a club that represents Nevada to the fullest - standout players from the area, the club named after the state’s motto, and now those leading the way have their sights set on the next stage of plans.

At the end of the month the club will break ground on a Sports Complex and Micro Stadium. The complex will feature FIFA approved turf, 5,000 seats, futsal courts, a pool, a clubhouse and more.   

Visual Mock up for Sports Complex and Micro Stadium

“We're definitely a new club here, but we're growing faster than anything [to the point] that we're struggling keeping up with the growth that's happening,” Robles said. “So it's good to see that we're having success, but we haven't even started.”

As a father of three, including two young girls who just started playing soccer themselves, Robles understands the more opportunities he can create for his current players, the more opportunities his kids will have when they come up as well. Being a girl dad has pushed him even further into the women’s game and strengthened the importance of his role with BattleBorn.

With sheer determination, a positive attitude and charismatic personality Robles is already finding his way in his inaugural season, even if with a little help from new friends. He shared his appreciation for FC Davis’ General Manager Adam Lewin who was a huge help in guiding him through his first time hosting a WPSL match.

“Luckily we just play each team once this year and until next year I have bragging rights with him,” Robles said jokingly.

For now, the sacrifices, the hard work, the resolve to just figure it out has all paid off. The team, on its home pitch, won its first WPSL match in history. Heads are being held a little higher, confidence is seeping in, and the fire in the players’ eyes is getting stronger.

The club’s second match of the season came against the other new Pac North expansion club, San Francisco Elite SC. Battleborn spent nearly six hours on the road trudging through California traffic and finally arrived at the field just before kickoff. Battleborn fell 4-1.  

Adversity for the young team is nothing new and sometimes there’s validation in victory. For BattleBorn FC, the fight continues.

Watch matches live on Eleven Sports, the official streaming partner of the WPSL.