Safira 1 East Providence Sports 0 5/5/13

Safira 1 East Providence Sports 0   5/5/13

Big crowd out in Fall River for LUSA season opener
Game 45 (Game 13 Season 2)
Safira                                    1
East Providence Sports         0
LUSA (5th Division)
5/5/13 10:00 AM
Britland Park, Fall River, MA
Attendance:  122
I got a little taste of LUSA last summer, and was immediately addicted to her Portuguese sweetbread flavors.  You know what they say; “Once you go Portuguese you never go back.” Actually nobody says that by I don’t know any clichéd sexual innuendo tributes to the Portuguese, so we’ll leave that one where it is.  Anyway, there’s a few things you can count on from the LUSA that elevates it above all other area leagues.  Attendance.  There are going to be fans.  Uniform quality, they will match, and often even have matching warmups and sponsors as well.  The quality of play is head and shoulders above all other leagues.  It’s a wonder why more teams from this league don’t enter the US Open Cup.  This is the sort of situation where you could see huge crowds getting involved and coming out for tournament games if they entered.  It also would provide a great story for the region given their historical association with the early days of the US Open Cup.
In the past the paper trail for LUSA fixtures has been pretty easy to navigate, but for some reason, the league seems to have “gone underground” and is no longer posting times, dates, and field locations on the communicados section of the league website.  It was originally posted over the winter on New England Soccer Today that the season opening would be Sunday April 28th and the first game would be contested between East Providence Sports and Fall River Sports.  Apparently everything got delayed a week, and I was only able to find this out by searching various club Facebook pages.  Whatever, the bottom line is, the LUSA season is here, and I was all over it.
A 10:00 AM kick required me to take off at about 8:00 in the morning from my North Central Mass base, but I was not disappointed when I arrived at Britland Park about 20 minutes before kickoff.  The parking lot was already filling up and space along the one available field facing fence was at a premium.  The field is beautiful, and although FieldTurf, it is soccer specific.  I learned from eavesdropping on a conversation that apparently it was paid for with a municipal bond from the city of Fall River.  Apparently East Providence wants to play their home games there, and many Fall River taxpayers are not fond of the proposition.  Totally understandable.  There was a great community vibe around the field, as people were streaming in with their Dunkin coffees and kids with their hauls of toys.  Parents would line up along the fence and the kids would play back and forth along the strip of concrete between the fence and the parking lot.  I liked how the fence had a little extra raised bar for leaning on.  I just wish there were options to stand on other sides of the field than just the one.  All the Safira supporters gathered to the right side of the field, while the East Providence fans, who easily outnumbered the opposition 2 or 3 to 1 positioned themselves to the left.
East Providence appeared intimidating in their all black warmups, and Safira look very professional in their red and white striped and white with red trim uniforms.   They don’t charge to get into the matches, but these teams definitely have some relatively major small business sponsorships behind them.  The game kicked off and the quality of play was high, but the pace was cagey, as both teams were feeling each other out.  I decided to tape the whole thing, and I haven’t had the time to edit down the footage.  That’s part of the reason for what’s been keeping this post backed up.  I definitely felt like a bit of an interloper at the game, because everyone else seemed to know each other, but its just such a fascinating experience I could not pass it up.  The first half went scoreless, and round about halftime in the interest of making conversation I asked the guy next to me how many people he thought were there, and this smartass says 22.  Ok killa.  Highlights on the second half included the joy of the family behind me on seeing their (possibly nephew?) relative make his debut for East Providence in about the 80th minute.  Just 5 minutes from full time, Safira broke the scoreless tie and held on to win.  It was a solid game, and the first of a doubleheader for me (and apparently the referee) who left the field satisfied but hungry for more action, as we made our way over to Cranston, for the 2:00 kick of the Rhode Island Reds vs. Brooklyn Italians NPSL home opener.

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