New Orleans Jesters
The New Orleans Jesters are an American soccer team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 2003, the team plays in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. Nicknamed 'The Jesters', they are coached by Kenny Farrell, play home games at Pan American Stadium, and their colors are purple, green, and white. In early 2019, they exercised their right to remain inactive for the 2019 NPSL season.
|Full name||New Orleans Jesters|
|Stadium||Pan American Stadium|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Head Coach||Kenny Farrell|
|League||National Premier Soccer League|
The team played their first season with the nickname the "Shell Shockers" which came from the team's sponsorship by the Shell Oil Company. In its first season, the team won their first game 2–0 over Nashville Metros, then won seven of the next eight. They outscored outscored many of their opponents – 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 they beat the Houston Toros 4–0. After a 5–3 loss on the road against Memphis Express, the Shell Shockers won nine in a row and secured the Mid South Division title well before the final game of the season. The Shell Shockers hosted the Southern Conference playoffs and were favorites to progress. They comfortably overcame Central Florida Kraze 4–1 in the conference semi-final but were uncharacteristically beaten 2–0 in the conference final by Memphis. Head Coach Kenny Farrell was named PDL Coach of the Year.
Having been so dominant the previous year, expectations were high for the Shell Shockers as they approached the 2004 season. Unfortunately, despite winning their opening fixture of the season 3–1 over the Lafayette Swamp Cats, they were flattened 8–0 by the DFW Tornados in their next game, having been reduced to nine men by the 57th minute. The team went on a slide, losing to the El Paso Patriots twice, to DFW once more, and to Memphis Express. The Shockers ended the season a disappointing fifth in the Mid South Division, 30 points behind divisional champs El Paso Patriots and well out of the playoffs. Roberto 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.
In 2005, the team moved to Pan American Stadium in City Park and won their first game over Memphis Express. The team then lost their next five games, including a 5–2 defeat at the hands of the Nashville Metros. A brief mid-season surge that included a pair of wins over divisional Laredo Heat sparked the potential for a revival, but four more defeats, including another to Nashville, ended any playoff hopes New Orleans may have had. The team finished sixth in the Mid South Division. Pablo Araya-Espinozo was the season's top scorer, with 9 goals.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged Pan American Stadium, along with much of the rest of the area. As a result, the Shell Shockers played at Muss Bertolino Stadium in nearby Kenner, Louisiana for the 2006 season. After their plight was featured by 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 million to the redevelopment of City Park. That season the team won just 4 games. The Shockers finished fourth in the Mid South Division, almost 30 points behind divisional champs Laredo Heat. Gautreau and Roberto Najarro were the team's top scorers, with 3 goals each.
In 2007 the team finished the season fifth in the Mid South Division. That season the Shockers did beat their new Louisiana rivals, the Baton Rouge Capitals, new divisional team Mississippi Brilla, and the Austin Lightning. Unfortunately the team was unable to win any of its 8 away games throughout the season. Ged Quinn, Brandon Chagnard, and Gino Ray were the team's top scorers for the year, with 13 goals between them, while Jamie Davies contributed six assists.
The team's sponsorship with the Shell Oil Company ended after the 2007 season, and "Shell" was dropped from the team's name. In 2008, businesswoman Dana Stumpf also bought out long-time chairman Gary Ostroske, and the team moved to a new home within City Park, Tad Gormley Stadium for four games. They also played at Lupin Field at Isidore Newman School for four games. The Shockers struggled for much of the 2008 season. For the fifth year in a row, New Orleans ended the year at the wrong end of the Mid South Division standings, finishing seventh. Brandon Chagnard was the team's top scorer with 4 goals.
Following the 2008 season, the team underwent a full rebranding. It changed its name, colors, and crest entirely, rebranding themselves as the New Orleans Jesters to better reflect New Orleans culture. The team returned to Pan American Stadium following a full renovation that included the installation of FieldTurf.
The team also developed a renewed focus on improving the local community and developing young soccer talent. In its first year as the New Orleans Jesters, the team went undefeated in the regular season and posted one loss in the playoffs. That year, two players were named to the All-Conference Team, and one received All-League Honors.
Move to NPSL
On November 2, 2012, it was announced that the Jesters would compete in the National Premier Soccer League, ending the club's nine-year stint in the PDL.
Notable former players
This list of notable former players comprises players who went on to play professional soccer after playing for the Jesters, 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 (10th in PDL)||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
|2004||4||USL PDL||5th, Mid South||278 (31st in PDL)||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2005||4||USL PDL||6th, Mid South||600 (13th in PDL)||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 (31st in PDL)||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2008||4||USL PDL||7th, Mid South||172 (52nd in PDL)||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2009||4||USL PDL||3rd, Southeast||1,007 (8th in PDL)||Divisional Semi-finals||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||1,500 (5th in PDL)||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|
|2014||4||NPSL||3rd, Southeast||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
|2015||4||NPSL||5th, Southeast||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2016||4||NPSL||3rd, Southeast||Divisional Semi-finals||Did not qualify|
|2017||4||NPSL||1st, Southeast||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
|2018||4||NPSL||3rd, Southeast||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
- USL PDL Regular Season Champions 2003
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2003
- Louisiana Cup Winners 2016
- "Shell Shockers to re-build home". United Soccer Leagues. 16 February 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. 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.
- 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 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. Archived from the original on 2008-12-30. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- "New Orleans Jesters Unveiled". New Orleans Jesters. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "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. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- "USL Stat Archives". United Soccer Leagues. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08.