New Orleans Jesters
|Full name||New Orleans Jesters|
|Stadium||Pan American Stadium
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Head Coach||Kenny Farrell|
|League||National Premier Soccer League|
|Website||Club home page|
New Orleans Jesters are an American soccer team based in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Founded in 2003, the team will play in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. The team had previously played in the USL Premier Development League (PDL).
The team plays its home games at Pan American Stadium, where they have played since 2009. The team's colors are purple, green, and white.
Prior to the 2008 season the team was known as the New Orleans Shell Shockers, due to its sponsorship by the Shell Oil Company. Shell decided not to renew their sponsorship after the 2007 season and the "Shell" was subsequently dropped from its name, and prior to the 2009 season the team changed its name, colors, and crest entirely, rebranding themselves as the New Orleans Jesters.
The New Orleans Shell Shockers entered the PDL as an expansion franchise in 2003, playing at the soccer stadium at Tulane University in New Orleans; the name "Shell Shockers" came from the team's sponsorship by the Shell Oil Company. The Shell Shockers made a huge impact in their first season, winning their first game 2-0 over Nashville Metros, and rattling off seven more wins in their next eight games. They outclassed more experienced opponents at every turn, and scored plenty of goals with it - they put four goals past the Lafayette Swamp Cats on two separate occasions, with Jonas Lopez scoring a hat trick in one of the games, and beat the Houston Toros 4-0. After a brief interruption service when they lost 5-3 on the road against Memphis Express in mid-June, the Shell Shockers resumed their astonishing run of form immediately; they rattled off nine more wins in a row - 5-1 against Austin Lightning, 5-1 against Houston Toros, 5-1 against Austin again - and had already secured the Mid South Division title well before the final game of the season. The Shell Shockers hosted the Southern Conference playoffs, and having already won the title of 'Best Regular Season Record', were hot favorites to progress. They comfortably overcame Central Florida Kraze 4-1 in the conference semi-final, thanks in no small part to a pair of goals from substitute Jeremy Judice, but they were uncharacteristically beaten 2-0 in the conference final by Memphis. Despite this surprising defeat, it was a massively successful debut season for the team, as highlighted by the fact that head coach Kenny Farrell was named Coach of the Year by the PDL.
Having been so dominant the previous year, expectations were high for the Shell Shockers as they approached the 2004 season. Unfortunately, things did not quite go their way; despite winning their opening fixture of the season 3-1 over the Lafayette Swamp Cats, they were unexpectedly flattened 8-0 by the DFW Tornados in their very next game, having been reduced to nine men by the 57th minute. It was by far the most comprehensive defeat in the team's short history, and it set in motion a tendency for the Shell Shockers to lose quite spectacularly. They were on the wrong end of an astonishing 8-3 scoreline against El Paso Patriots at the end of May, lost 4-1 at home to DFW in mid-June, conceded a 90th minute equalizer and then lost on a golden goal 2-1 against Memphis Express, and let in another seven goals against El Paso on the road in mid-July. The highlights of New Orleans's season were limited to a couple of 2-1 and 3-2 victories here and there, although they did enjoy an amazing 4-3 win over Austin Lightning in which they scored a 90th minute equalizer and a winner in the 9th minute of injury time, with both goals scored by Roberto Najarro. However, the Shockers ended the season a disappointing fifth in the Mid South Division, a full 30 points behind divisional champs El Paso Patriots, and well out of the playoffs. Najarro was the team's top scorer, with 5 goals, while former Carlisle United, West Ham United and Manchester City midfielder Ian Bishop registered 5 assists.
Things didn't get much better for the Shell Shockers in 2005. Despite taking up residence at the Pan American Stadium in City Park, and despite winning their first game in their new home 2-1 over Memphis Express, the Shell Shockers reverted to type and promptly lost their next five games, including a 5-2 thumping at the hands of the Nashville Metros, and a comprehensive 4-1 loss away from home at Austin Lightning. A brief mid-season surge that included a pair of wins over divisional new boys Laredo Heat sparked the potential for a revival, but it was all over quickly. Four more defeats down the home stretch, including another heavy defeat to Nashville, and a 4-1 hammering by the El Paso Patriots put pay to any scant playoff hopes New Orleans may have had. The 3-1 win over Austin Lightning at home on the last day of the season was, ironically, one of their most impressive performances of the year. They finished the season sixth in the Mid South Division, just three points off the basement, and 16 points off divisional champs El Paso Patriots. Pablo Araya-Espinozo was New Orleans's top marksman with 9 goals.
Pan American Stadium, along with much of the rest of Louisiana was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and as a result the Shell Shockers were forced to play at Muss Bertolino Stadium in nearby Kenner, Louisiana for the 2006 season. After their plight was featured in the international media, the Shockers, with the support of teams like New England Revolution and individuals such as former Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez, pledged to help raise $1,000,000 to the redevelopment of City Park.
The 2006 season was a difficult one for the Shell Shockers for obvious reasons, and their on-field performances suffered. The team won just 4 games in a long, hard season: 3-1 at home over Austin Lightning in late May, 3-1 over Austin again on the road in June, a hugely satisfying 2-1 win over El Paso Patriots with two goals from Jarret Gautreau, and a 3-0 win away in Dallas over the DFW Tornados on the final day of the regular season that featured a brace from midfielder Brandon Chagnard. Elsewhere, the results were less demoralizing than in previous years, but all too often the Shell Shockers found themselves on the wrong end of 3-1 and 3-2 scorelines, and even managing to score a desperate last-minute own goal in their 2-1 defeat to Laredo Heat in July. Eventually, they finished the season a distant fourth in the Mid South Division, almost 30 points behind divisional champs Laredo Heat - but at least they were still competing. Gautreau and Roberto Najarro were top scorers, with 3 goals each.
2007 unfortunately brought more of the same for the Shell Shockers, who did manage to pick up one more win than in 2006 but still finished the season a distant fifth in the Mid South Division behind the Laredo Heat. The on-field highlights included a 3-0 win over new Louisiana rivals Baton Rouge in late May, a pair of victories over the other new divisional team Mississippi Brilla, and an absolutely astonishing 8-1 annihilation of the Austin Lightning at home in July, in which Ged Quinn and Brandon Chagnard scored two goals each. Unfortunately it was New Orleans' form on the road which caused them the most pain: they failed to win any of their eight away games during the season. The demoralizing high-score defeats that had plagued the team in previous years were thankfully absent, with the worst performance of the year coming in their 4-2 defeat to the DFW Tornados in mid-June. Quinn, Chagnard, and Gino Ray were the team's top scorers for the year, with 13 goals between them, while Jamie Davies contributed six assists.
New Orleans suffered a turbulent 2007-08 offseason. The team's sponsorship by the Shell Oil Company ended, resulting the "Shell" part of the club's name being dropped. Long-time chairman Gary Ostroske was bought out by local business woman Dana Stumpf, and the team also moved to a new home, Tad Gormley Stadium, also located in City Park.
Disappointingly, the fresh faces and new home ground did not translate to an upturn in the Shockers' form. The season started badly with a 3-0 opening day defeat to new boys Houston Leones, and despite recovering to post two wins and a tie in their next three games, including a 1-0 over state rivals Baton Rouge Capitals, the Shockers struggled for much of the rest of the season. They suffered an embarrassing 4-1 turnaround away in Baton Rouge in late May, conceded an 85th minute equalizing PK in their 3-3 tie with Laredo Heat in early June, and lost three of their last four regular season games, all at home, including a 4-0 defeat to Laredo in which wunderkind Felix Garcia scored a hat trick. For the fifth year in a row New Orleans ended the year at the wrong end of the Mid South Division standings, eventually finishing seventh, 13 points behind divisional champs Austin Aztex U23. The erstwhile Brandon Chagnard was New Orleans' top scorer with 4 goals.
Prior to the 2009 season the team changed its name, colors, and crest entirely, rebranding themselves as the New Orleans Jesters, which reflects on New Orleans culture, more specifically the Mardi Gras, and following a full renovation including the installation of FieldTurf, returned to play their home games at Pan American Stadium.
Under new ownership since 2008, the team has a renewed focus on improving the local community and the level of soccer. In its first year as the New Orleans Jesters, the local USL franchise went undefeated during the 2009 season and posted its only loss in the playoffs. The team was recognized by having two players named to the All-Conference Team and one recognized with All-League Honors.
For the 2010 season, the Jesters competed in the Southeast Division of the PDL. Its eight home games were all played at newly renovated Pan American Stadium.
Move to NPSL
As of June 8, 2011.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
This list of notable former players comprises players who went on to play professional soccer after playing for the team in the Premier Development League, or those who previously played professionally before joining the team.
|Year||Division||League||Regular Season||Avg. Attendance||Playoffs||Open Cup|
|2003||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||711||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
|2004||4||USL PDL||5th, Mid South||278||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2005||4||USL PDL||6th, Mid South||600||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2006||4||USL PDL||4th, Mid South||719 (8th in PDL)||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2007||4||USL PDL||5th, Mid South||321||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2008||4||USL PDL||7th, Mid South||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2009||4||USL PDL||3rd, Southeast||1,007 (8th in PDL)||Divisional Semifinals||Did not qualify|
|2010||4||USL PDL||5th, Southeast||1,167 (9th in PDL)||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2011||4||USL PDL||4th, Mid South||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2012||4||USL PDL||5th, Mid South||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2013||4||NPSL||4th, Southeast||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
Attendance statistics are calculated by averaging each team's self-reported home attendances from the PDL's historical match archive.
- USL PDL Regular Season Champions 2003
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2003
- Westfeldt Practice Facility at Tulane University; New Orleans (2003-2004)
- Muss Bertolino Stadium; Kenner, Louisiana (2006-2007)
- Tad Gormley Stadium; New Orleans, 4 games (2008)
- Lupin Field at Isidore Newman School; New Orleans, 4 games (2008)
- Pan American Stadium; New Orleans (2005, 2009–present)
- Huff, Pierce W. (3 May 2008). "Shockers open season on road - Team features new owner, new name". The Times-Picayune (New Orleans). p. 8 Sports.
- "New Orleans Jesters Unveiled". New Orleans Jesters. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "Shell Shockers to re-build home". United Soccer Leagues. 16 February 2006. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
- "New Orleans Shell Shockers Persevere in Katrina's Wake". U.S. Soccer Federation. 1 September 2006. Archived from the original on 17 December 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Dell'Apa, Frank (27 March 2007). "Pitching in from the pitch". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
- "New Orleans Shell Shockers Staff". New Orleans Shell Shockers. 2008. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "New Orleans Shell Shockers Official Schedule (2008)". uslsoccer.com. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- "FieldTurf and NFL Assist Post-Katrina Pan American Stadium in Rebuilding Efforts". Reuters. 21 August 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- "GROWTH CONTINUES FOR NPSL". National Premier Soccer League. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- "USL Stat Archives". United Soccer Leagues.