Greater Lowell United FC 3 African All Stars 0 5/18/14

Greater Lowell United FC 3 African All Stars 0 5/18/14


I love the font choice

Greater Lowell United Football Club        3
African All Stars                                            0
Massachusetts  State Soccer League – USASA (5th Division)
5/18/14 7:30 PM
Lawrence Veterans Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, MA
Attendance: 31
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After a fantastic mid-day nap, and the realization that I may have just wasted a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I made the decision that I needed to travel to Lawrence, MA and catch my first Massachusetts State Soccer League (MSSL) contest.  My girlfriend Emily, and I quickly assembled, and began the journey from Cambridge to the finest city along the Merrimack River.  With a large population of Eastern European settlers in the 1840’s and now a transformation to nearly 75% of the population of Hispanic descent, I would imagine that there would be a large community of local soccer culture, but I did not experience this during my soccer watching.  The original northeast correspondent Steve B witnessed a Lowell city derby between two MSSL clubs last year, where he experienced more support and flair for the two local sides.

Welcome to Lawrence

This evening I would be viewing the African All Stars taking on Greater Lowell United Football Club’s MSSL squad.   This league match was actually a replay of last week’s MSSL Cup contest, which was a fairly aggressive affair, with GLUFC taking home the victory with a single goal in the second half of extra time.  The African All Stars would surely be looking for revenge.  Greater Lowell United Football Club, certainly a mouthful to say, is in it’s inaugural season with teams participating in the National Premier Soccer League, BSSL and the MSSL.  The team has had a fantastic social media presence and marketing initiatives, but unfortunately it has not translated well onto the field.  As of Memorial Day Weekend their premier team in NPSL has gone 0-3, with very harsh losses to the Brooklyn Italians and twice to the Red Bull U-23 squad. The challenge with teams participating at this level is the rapid turnover of players, and the struggle to keep a consistent roster.  After the second match the team actually cut ties with their head coach Jason Moore, and promoted Daniel Hristov.  Rumour has it that Jason was not mentally invested in the team.  The club wanted someone with better player management skills, and passion for the growth of the club and the soccer community.

Speechless

Regardless of their challenges, the organization is doing things right.  The game was played at Veterans Memorial under stadium lighting, and actually had some luxurious amenities, such as a full-blown concession stand, two ball boys, and a PA system!   The small things in life absolutely make a difference.  After some light rain, a romantic picnic in the stands with my girlfriend, and some necessary Gatorade revitalization, the whistle signaled the beginning of the game.  The tensions were clearly high, but GLUFC controlled the pace of the game and put one in early in the 4th minute.  Throughout the rest of the first half both teams had opportunities, but could not capitalize.  In the 34th minute the match took an ugly turn, when an African All Star player performed a bone crunching tackle from behind in the box resulting in an immediate red card ejection and penalty kick.   An uproar could be heard from the loyal African All Star supporters section, which had made the player’s bench their home.  The two lovely ladies, who are prominently pictured above, were way too involved for such a low level affair.  All the fuss was for nothing because the African All Star goalkeeper stopped the penalty shot like a boss.

Concession stand workers = Out of control

The first half ended, and an announcement over the PA system alerted the faithful that the concession stand was now open with “hot dogs and other food products.”  Emily and I immediately rushed down the stands, with zero care for others well-being or safety, and situated ourselves in line.  The concession stand was quite the spectacle, headlined by an unstable cashier and her co-worker screaming about fried dough and hot dogs. Their concession stand sales tactics worked perfectly.  Emily ordered a massive fried dough, while I settled for the World Famous Veterans Memorial Hot Dog.  Fingers covered in ketchup, I was now mentally and physically prepared for the second half.

The African All Stars, playing a man down, held their own for the majority of the final forty five, but could not find the back of the net.  The advantage eventually became too much and GLUFC struck their second goal in the 83rd minute with a wonderful strike.  Throughout the second half I had the pleasure of speaking with co-founder of the GLUFC, Tim Melican.   During this time I learned about his vision for the club, and his belief that the Greater Lowell area was in need of a semi-professional soccer team.  We talked about other prominent NPSL clubs, specifically in Detroit and Chattanooga, and how their supporters’ culture truly defined the team.  Of course, Tim could only hope the following for Greater Lowell United would evolve into something like those two teams.  The National Premier Soccer League has grown significantly over the years, and will continue to take strides forward to grow the game.  There has actually been reports of NPSL branching out into a semi-professional league of 32 teams across the US, comprised of 4 regional divisions of 8.  This would be a dream come true for teams like GLUFC.   In the final seconds of the game Greater Lowell would tally one more on for good measure, and Tim and I let out a roar in jubilation.  My time in Lawrence had come to an end, but I would surely be back in the area to check out GLUFC in NPSL action.  Check out the full match recap here via GLUFC media!

The loyal African All Star Supporters… sitting on the bench?

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