Akron City FC set to return three key players from 2023 campaign

Writer: Sideline and Beat Reporter, Cade Cracas

Akron, Ohio - Familiarity is a rare feeling nowadays in the world of professional sports. However, the supporters of Akron City FC (ACFC) will be familiar with three faces returning to the club for the 2024 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) campaign.

In hopes of rebounding this season, the team will see Nathan Childress, Levi Stephens and Ryan Kingsford back on the pitch for ACFC.

“I had a really good experience with the team and staff last year,” said Childress. “I felt my experience helped me grow both on and off the field and I want to be a part of the growing community here.”

The three returnees were staples on the team last season, as the team finished the campaign with an organization-best 15 goals scored and 20 allowed. With room for improvement and expectations even higher, Stephens did not want to pass up on the opportunity to compete for the team yet again.

“I’ve always enjoyed my experience [with ACFC],” said Stephens. “From the guys on the team to the coaches to the administration and of course the fans, it’s something I look forward to every summer now.

“My time here has been fun. I’ve gotten to see the club grow and I think that’s the best part about it.”

For Stephens, he enters this summer from D-I George Mason University (GMU) where he recorded one assist in 10 appearances in his first year with the team. Prior to his time with GMU, he was a MAC regular season champion with Akron University and spent time with the Columbus Crew Academy Team where he was named an All-Star.

Heading into the 2024 campaign, the team is hoping to rally behind its new and improved roster. They are set to bring in multiple NCAA Division I products and Division II standouts to increase the ceiling for the team in its third year competing.

“I’m looking forward to the squad that we have this year,” said Childress. “It’s a really talented group of guys. I’m excited to improve on last season and continue what is being built here.”

During his time at D-I Wofford College, Childress competed in 26 contests, recording one assist. While making his way into his junior season, he will be transferring to D-I Oral Roberts University, to further grow his collegiate experiences.

Through his time with ACFC, he has been drawn to the club’s involvement with the community and hopes it will continue to help raise the soccer atmosphere in Akron.

“I’ve really enjoyed the atmosphere from the fans and community that come to support at games,” he said. “I also really enjoy how the team works to establish relationships through camps and outreach in the Akron community.”

The final returnee, Ryan Kingsford, excelled in his final collegiate season. Through 16 starts and 17 appearances at Loyola Marymount University, he recorded the most amount of minutes played on the team to go alongside six goals and three assists.

With plenty of new faces to be seen and notable familiar faces, the team is set to rebound in 2024.

“My expectations this year is to push for playoffs and give the fans something they can enjoy week in and week out,” Stephens said. 

ACFC will look to kick off the 2024 campaign in the Battle of I-77 as they take on NPSL rival Cleveland SC. The contest is set to occur on the road on Saturday, May 18, with game time set for 7:00 p.m. EST

Tickets can be found online at: https://www.clevelandsc.com/event-details-registration/cleveland-sc-vs-akron-city-fc