Brave SC Ready to Live Up to the Name

These amateurs from Florida – formerly known as The Villages – look to spin a fresh new name and makeover into Open Cup underdog gold when they kick off against NISA pros in the First Round
By: Dan Vaughn

This year will be Brave SC’s first time playing in the U.S. Open Cup.

Now, that said, they’ve actually played multiple times in the Cup – but this iteration arrives to our historic tournament after a facelift, one they’re hoping will inspire a first-ever deep run and success against professional competition.


The team was known previously as The Villages SC since starting life as a youth soccer club in 2008. The Villages, famous for its catchy commercials from the early 2000s, is a sprawling 55+ retirement community in central Florida and when Brave was kicking off as an organization, The Villages was kind enough to lend the trademarked name and logo to give the new team some instant recognition.

But over the years, as the club grew in both recognizability and success, a rename was needed. So late last year, the club formerly known as The Villages SC was officially renamed Brave SC. The reasons are simple according to their head coach Anderson DaSilva: “The way the teams at all levels play – striving to win every match, no matter the circumstances – and the way our organization operates – never fearing to dream big and work to achieve those goals – have always been brave.”


True to the spirit of this new name, Brave/The Villages have experienced some moderate success in Cups past by amateur-team standards. They’ve qualified for the competition six times in the last eight years – and won three of their First Round contests.


In 2022, after winning a First Round matchup 6-0, they lost out in the Second Round to local USL Championship pros the Tampa Bay Rowdies by that same lopsided score. It’s clear that the club’s hoping for a longer run in 2024.

For DaSilva, success in the Cup is a point of pride and qualifying for it is a big deal. “It’s a very special tournament,” said the coach. It started over a century ago and, even though they had to go back and forth with the different formats this edition, we didn’t want to lose the opportunity to participate again.

“Not being in the Cup last year, we felt like something was missing and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity of playing a professional team,” DaSilva added. “This year is special because it’s the first time we’re hosting a professional team.”

Brave SC Coach DaSilva getting his team ready for the 2024 Open Cup

Brave SC’s First Round opponent offer plenty of reasons to believe there might be a Cupset on the cards. Second-year NISA club Savannah Clovers – though sanctioned as a Division III pro team – aren’t as well-funded as some of their counterparts and the roster reflects that. Last year, the Clovers made their debut in the Open Cup but drew USL Championship powerhouse Charleston Battery as their first opponent. The Battery – Open Cup runners-up in 2008 – won that match 4-1.

Now the Clovers are hoping for a better showing, especially going against an amateur side. But Brave SC are amateurs with real Open Cup pedigree, playing in their 6th competition, and Coach DaSilva is viewing the meeting as a real opportunity to make waves.

“We’re taking them very seriously,” the coach said. “They’re all professional players and we know it’s not going to be an easy game for us, but the reason we like the Open Cup so much is because of opportunities to play against teams like them that have professional status.”

Brave SC enter the Open Cup for the first time under their new name

Brave SC’s success on the field is paying off both in the stands and in the local community beyond. Fans from the local area are showing up to cheer the team on and Brave SC Communications Director, Drew Chaltry, has put in work to grow that connection. Whether “it's something as simple as making our players available to the fans [especially kids] after matches, or participating in charity events,” the staff and team are working to build a relationship with local supporters.


Chaltry sees that community relationship as a core priority of the club.

“Our connection with the community is everything,” he said. “Without the people who support us or entrust our coaches with their kids' development, there wouldn't be a Brave SC. We have hundreds of youth players from the area and proudly recognize two supporter groups that cheer on our teams.”

It’s a one-for-all-and-all-for-one attitude that sustains clubs like VE

The team has built partnerships with several local youth organizations, including Buffalo Stampeders and Lake United FC. Those relationships are paying off in more than just fan support, with the team finding on-field talent through such outreach. “Some of the players who will be on our Open Cup roster are local,” coach Chaltry said, “including a few seniors from local high school teams who came up through our youth programs.”


The players on the roster are excited about the matchup with a pro team and see the Open Cup as a chance to shine in front of a larger audience. For center-back Joao Camargos, the match is an opportunity to get ready for the club’s 2024 USL League Two season.



“I see the Open Cup as a big opportunity for us players to get on the map, to play against a professional team. It’s a big opportunity for us to play on a high level, be competing and get prepared for USL League Two.” added Micah Folker, goalkeeper for Brave SC “There’s no other tournament where amateurs get the chance to play against top professionals.

“Being able to play with players from all over the world and the U.S., it’s not the same players you grew up with,” said Folker, touching on the essence of the tournament. “You learn more and much about different styles of soccer.”

Of course, learning from a win is more fun than learning from a loss.

If you’re looking for a potential great matchup in the First Round, Brave SC hosting Savannah Clovers has all the makings of a potential early-round classic. And while it might be easy for an amateur side to feel outmatched, the Buffaloes are undaunted.

Certainly, Coach DaSilva is a believer: “At no point, just because we’re playing a professional side, are we going to think defensively. We want to put on a good game for our community and fans and continue to prepare our players for the next level and, to do that, we have to play our style.”

That approach just might lead to an historic run in the Open Cup, this time under the new and telling banner of Brave SC.

Dan Vaughn is a veteran soccer journalist and the founder and editor of Protagonist Soccer. Follow him at @TheDanVaughn on Twitter/X.