Local soccer

Sweeney: The top local soccer stories of 2019

While the Revolution had a solid end to the campaign, local soccer — another focus of ours here at the Bay State Soccer Sentinel — had an electric year.

Here are eight things that stood out to us in 2019:

Fall River Marksmen return

Once the kings of American soccer thanks to six American Soccer League and four US Open Cup titles in the 1920s and ‘30s, the Marksmen had disbanded in 1931. Only true soccer historians today had known about them, and to our surprise, they returned and played their first games this year!

Following tryouts in late June, the Marksmen went out on a “revival tour,” and even contested the Taça de Fall River with Fall River FC, with FRFC taking the taça with a 4-3 aggregate win. The second match on Sept. 4 saw the two sides battle to a 3-3 draw. Yaw Addow had the hat trick for the Marksmen in that one.

We’d love to see the Taça be a yearly event.

The Marksmen have not yet found a league home. We’ll bring you the news about that when we hear about it.

In addition, the Marksmen brass visited with Hanoi FC in Vietnam to discuss a possible partnership in early October.

GPS Omens wins McKenzie Cup

Omens has become one of the powerhouses in local amateur soccer, having made a couple of appearances in the US Open Cup in recent years.

But in 2019, without the Open Cup participation — they had lost to Safira in the Second Qualifying Round in November 2018 — they were able to capture the McKenzie Cup, the independent amateur title of all clubs in the Bay State Soccer League.

Omens had a first round bye in this year’s competition, and it took on Valeo FC in the second round; Omens won, 3-0. Omens then beat Eagles, 4-1, before its closest match of the tournament, a 2-1 win over Lusitana in the quarterfinals.

Omens beat Fall River FC, 3-nil, in the semis, before lifting the up following a 4-1 win over Kendall Wanderers A.

In all, Omens out-scored its opponents, 16-3, during the course of the tournament.

Boston City uses two grounds; hires Chelsea’s Bustamente, sacks him

In early 2019, Boston City FC announced that it had left Malden Catholic, choosing to use a pair of grounds — Hormel Stadium in Medford, and Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere. Five of the seven home matches were played in Revere, with the other two in Medford.

In addition, BCFC hired Chelsea’s Michael Bustamente to be the second head coach in club history, taking over for Palhinha, who had stepped down in November 2018. Bustamente was a former midfielder for the Lions during the club’s first season.

However, his tenure was short-lived: after inserting himself into the Lions’ XI, he saw a red card in the May 26 match against Greater Lowell, and also saw a six-month suspension handed down by US Soccer.

Boston City released Bustamente from his duties on June 7, with assistants Cesar Deossa and Roberto Mazzinghy taking over in a co-coach role; the club has not named a permanent successor.

Defender Ben Manoogian was named All-North Atlantic Conference in the NPSL this season, and Willian Bonora won the Ironsides Crew’s Player of the Year Award.

And in late September, it was announced that Craig Tornberg, who served as managing director for the club, left the club with immediate effect. A replacement for Tornberg has not been named.

Valeo joins NPSL

In September, it was announced that Valeo FC of Newton would join the NPSL North Atlantic Conference, putting three clubs in Eastern Mass. with Boston City and Greater Lowell. Frank Dell’apa and Jonathan Sigal first had the news for the New England Soccer Journal.

Boston City, who would be Valeo’s closest rival, was none too pleased with the NPSL’s decision to put a club within 20 miles of it. BCFC owner Renato Valentim, in the NESJ story, noted the club may even leave the league due to Valeo’s introduction into NPSL, but as of Christmas, there has been no announcement as to BCFC’s plans for 2020.

Brockton United falls in US Open Cup qualifiers

After knocking off Juve-Pro of the UPSL (1-0 on Sept. 21) and Safira FC (2-0 on Oct. 19), Brockton United of the BSSL and UPSL played host to the New York Pancyprian Freedoms on Nov. 24, and lost 1-0 in the Third Qualifying Round of the 2020 US Open Cup. New York advanced directly to the First Round Proper in March 2020.

Western Mass. Pioneers win USL League Two Northeast Division title

Out in Ludlow, the Western Mass. Pioneers dominated all comers at the corner of Worcester and Windsor: the Pioneers won the USL League Two Northeast Division title with an 11-0-3 record, and was tied on points across the entire nation with 36.

Not only that, Western Mass. allowed the least amount of goals in the League Two Eastern Conference, yielding half a goal per game.

In the postseason, the Pioneers fell to Reading United in the Eastern Conference Final, 1-nil, on July 21, two matches from the national championship. For the Pioneers’ efforts, they will take part in the 2020 US Open Cup starting with the First Round Proper in March.

In addition, Western Mass. capped its season with a 6-1 win over Juve-Pro in Ludlow’s annual Festa during Labor Day Weekend.

Western Mass’s Blake Mullen also won the league’s Golden Glove as best goalkeeper, and was All-Eastern Conference.

Safira FC wins UPSL Northeast Division unbeaten

A perfect 11-0-0 season was on the docket for Safira FC, as it captured the UPSL Northeast Division championship.

In addition, Safira beat Kendall Wanderers, 5-nil, in the First Qualifying Round of the 2020 US Open Cup in September, but lost to Brockton, 2-0, in October.

Providence City wins BSSL Division 1

With an 11-2-4 record and a 10-point lead over second-place Broadway Gunners, Providence City — the Rogues — won the top flight of amateur soccer in Massachusetts, after securing its second consecutive promotion. 2019 was its third consecutive division title.

PCFC only allowed 13 goals in the league, which was by far the lowest allowed in 2019. The second lowest was 15 by Oneida in Division 3 South, which won automatic promotion to Division 2.

In addition, Al Zawraa FC won Division 3 North and promotion to Division 2. Albania United SC and Taunton Eagles on automatic promotion to Division 1.

Providence City also saw its jersey receive air time on the Men In Blazers show on NBC Sports Network. It’s available for purchase at WeGotSoccer.

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