“I don’t know if we’ll sell many winter hats in summer, but we’ll try,” he said with a chuckle.
Randy Kim, the general manager, walked up and Crowley said, “Would you be able to go to the CVS across the street and buy cups?”
When Kim returned, having spent $12.19 on cups and a couple of bucks on a chocolate bar, Crowley said, “Good work; keep the receipt.”
This is how the revolution begins: By turning your car into a rolling warehouse. By learning that water can be dispensed more efficiently from five-gallon jugs than from bottles. By keeping track of every cent spent. And by bringing a technology executive’s aptitude for pioneering start-ups to soccer.
The N.P.S.L. is a semiprofessional summer league whose 96 teams, spread across the country, play in the fourth level of what is known as the American soccer pyramid. It seemed to Crowley an ideal laboratory for experimentation.
Crowley’s idea is that profitable and sustainable soccer teams can succeed, not only in the large markets inhabited at the top professional level by Major League Soccer, but in small communities, too, like Kingston, with a population of 23,000 in the Hudson Valley, 90 miles north of New York City.
“It’s like craft beer growing because people like the idea of something personal, local, not the standardized beer that everyone gets,” said Crowley, whose interest in starting a team was first piqued by the stirring goal Landon Donovan scored to give the United States a victory over Algeria at the 2010 World Cup.
“I think that’s where M.L.S. is going wrong,” Crowley said. “They are tending to produce a standardized product across the country.”
Crowley envisions the obscure N.P.S.L. becoming relevant over the next five or 10 years by expanding from 100 to 500 teams, each drawing at least 1,000 fans a game and attracting at least 5,000 viewers online via live-streaming broadcasts of their matches. (M.L.S. currently has 22 teams, but is in the process of expanding to as many as 28 over the next several years.)