New York Greek American Atlas 5 Mass United FC 0 4/13/14

New York Greek American Atlas 5  Mass United FC 0  4/13/14

As the sun sets, so does Mass United’s 2014/15 cup campaign

NY Greek American Atlas     5
Mass United FC                      0
USASA National Amatuer Cup Region I Quarterfinal (5thDivision)
USASA (Cosmopolitan Soccer League)  vs. USASA (Massachusetts State Soccer League)
4/13/14 5:00 PM
Manning Field, Lynn, MA
Attendance:  64

I had one hour to make it from Framingham to Lynn for kick off, and at this point there was no way I was going to miss the match.  Once I had made up my mind there was no turning back.  I remember listening to stories from the original Northeast DITP’er Steve B about the historic NY GreekAmerican Atlas, and I was salivating at the thought of witnessing some fantastic low level soccer culture. But, first I needed to make a quick stop at a local burger joint and fill the void in my stomach.  After a lovely dinner at McDonald’s, I pulled into the parking lot of the Manning Field complex after traveling down a one way, snapped a few pictures, had a few moments of nostalgia and entered the gauntlet where the Greeks would battle against the boys from Lynn.  Back in the day I had experienced many “non league” baseball games here, watching the North Shore Spirit in the Can-Am Baseball League, but that’s for another time.

The Elders

As I walked into the arena I was highly impressed with the turnout, and I found myself instantly gravitating towards the NY Greek American side.  The NY Greeks have quite the history, and have been actively competing in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, formerly known as the German American Soccer League, since 1941.  I took a seat behind a cohort of elderly men all wearing NYGAA apparel.  At the time the teams were just heading out to the field, and all of the elders were directing orders, in heavy Greek accents, to the players on the field.  The intensity and concentration on the elders’ faces were as if this match was for the National Challenge Cup in 1967!  At this point, I realized the love and passion these gentlemen had for this team, their sport and more importantly, the community it had created.  In the stands behind me there were about 15 other NYGAA fans, and as soon as the whistle blew they were very vocal and supportive of their squad.  History and culture are certainly alive in American soccer, but you just have to dig really deep to uncover it.

Manning Field, home of Mass United

The NY Greek Americans were extremely hungry from the start, asserting their dominance on the Lynn side.  The coaches on the sideline were pushing the players to consistently attack, attack, attack.  Mass United looked completely disoriented, and they conceded a goal in the 4th minute after a tenure of relentless chaos from the visitors.  In the early stages of the night, it appeared as if the Greeks had already locked their spot in for the next round of the National Amateur Region I semifinal.  The National Amateur Cup is a USASA sanctioned tournament which was created in 1922 in a response to the large number of teams entering the National Challenge Cup, what we now know as the US Open Cup.  The Greeks lost in the semi-finals of the national tournament last year to Region II RWB Adria of Illinois, who became the 2013 Champion.   With another goal in the 14th minute it was obvious that NYGAA wanted to make another deep run in this tournament.
At half time I attempted to start up a conversation with one of the elders in a “NY Greek American Soccer”  track jacket, but before I could get the chat going he was pulled aside by one of his pals.  (I am fairly sure they thought I was a scout for another team).  After that failure I made the decision to change seats, relocating to the center of the field.   At this point I began to study the peculiar “supporters section” for Mass United FC.  I really could not put a finger on why the group of ten all had yellow and blue balloons wrapped around their heads.  They are the clubs colors, I get that, but why on earth would adults make the decision to decorate their heads with balloons?  It’s been a few days since the match, and I’m still trying to understand it.

I need that polo

The second half began, and the elders continued to pace around the stands, perching and waiting for more goals.  At this pace, we all knew more were coming.  Mass United was simply outclassed, constantly trying for the long ball to Junior Alcantra.  Yes, the fellow that got ACBlaugrana disqualified in the US Open Cup qualification last week.  
I honestly expected more from the side in yellow.  They had defeated both Southie FC, and Mass Premier Soccer to clinch this berth, but they were clearly stale from the off season.   Mass United FC will be competing in the newly formed American Soccer League, which will be a USASA sanctioned league, starting in August 2014.  Mass United will also have ‘reserve’ teams participating in MSSL and BSSL during the interim.  The ASL will be managed under the American Professional Soccer umbrella, which hopes to be operating as a third division league in a few years.  The ASL/APS reincarnation of the American soccer pyramid appears to be a bit sketchy at first glance… and after looking into it more, it only gets sketchier.

Awkward Supporters Section, With even more awkward balloon hats.  Balloon tifo?

The Greeks continued their effective wing play, spreading the Mass United FC defense and scoring three more goals in the second half.  The team played for a full 90, continuously hungry for more.  This was my first experience seeing a CSL team, and I can guarantee that it won’t be my last.  I was impressed.  The New Yorkers would now host Danbury United of Connecticut in the next round of play.  My wonderful Soccer Sunday had come to an end.  I got to witness two Region I powerhouses laying the smack down, a fantastic meal from McDonald’s, 150 miles on my car, and memories that would last an eternity.

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