BRANDON — One Westfield Brandon business in particular got a boost in business this summer thanks to the popularity of the World Cup games. That would be the newly opened United World Soccer, where manager Ariel Martinez has now turned his attention to the soccer club season.
“Now that the World Cup play is over, the club season is starting, and all the players from all the different world teams will be playing club ball,” he said. “The big clubs are Manchester United, Barcelona and Madrid.”
But don’t let that list misguide you; United World Soccer is fully stocked with “on the pitch” and “off the pitch” athletic wear representing soccer team and club interests worldwide — and not just the big three. Also in stock is a full line of accessories, including shin guards, socks, hats and balls.
“On the pitch” refers to team uniforms — the jerseys and shorts players would wear on the field. “Off the pitch” refers to clothing players would wear off the field, such as training jerseys.
Unlike typical American athletic wear, made out of cotton, soccer clothes are performance wear, casual wear crafted out of a polyester blend.
“It breathes easier and dries quickly,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t just hang on you.”
Available, too, are a wide selection of “boots” — what Americans call “cleats” — designed for grass, field and outdoor lawn play. Also available are similarly styled flat-bottom soccer shoes, for use on hard, artificial surfaces, such as indoor stadium turf and neighborhood streets.
Another big item is the team scarf, designed for “representing your team in a visual way,” Martinez said.
United World Soccer has locations in Downtown Disney West Side, The Florida Mall (Orlando), Westfield Countryside (Clearwater) and now, Westfield Brandon.
This place is more than just a store, though. It is billed as an interactive experience, a place for both the ardent fan and curious newcomer to celebrate and discover soccer culture.
Count among them Rudy Latorre, who happened to be at the Westfield Brandon mall when the United States was competing for the World Cup. Curious, he ventured into United World Soccer, where in the back of the store a large screen hangs, with bleacher-like seating available for patrons to watch live games.
“I had some time to kill,” he said. “I wanted to see what it was all about, to watch part of the game. The World Cup is like the Olympics. It brings the world together.”
Martinez said the decision to expand into Brandon was a good one.
“There’s a lot of soccer players and fans in the Tampa area,” he said. “We already had a store in Clearwater and we wanted a store on this side of the bay.”
“We opened up at the right time and at the right place,” he added. “We were really busy from the start.”
Whether it’s youth soccer or the Tampa Bay Rowdies or the Orlando City Soccer Club, which is slated to compete in Major League Soccer next year, United World Soccer aims to support the growth and development of soccer.
“We’re reaching out to local teams in the area,” Martinez said. “(Soccer) is for infants to adults.”
United World Soccer at Westfield Brandon is open during mall hours. Regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Call United World Soccer at (813) 330-7918.