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OaM Lower League Round-Up: July 21, 2021

It’s been an active summer for the Tri State area’s semi-pro and amateur clubs

Manager Sacir Hot and FC Motown secured a conference title.
Photo by Peter Bonilla

Last weekend might have been a washout for the New York Red Bulls against Inter Miami CF but the rain did not stop everything. For the locals it was a mixed bag of results in the lower leagues, many of which are entering their playoff stages. Two teams are still alive as they hunt for their first league championships while another quickly bowed out after just one game.

With so much going on it deserved to have each section split up below:

USL League Two

While one RBNY team was getting rained out another’s season was coming to an end on Saturday night. The Red Bulls Under-23 side that plays in USL League Two was eliminated from the playoffs after falling to West Chester United, 2-1, in Leesburg, Virginia.

In the first meeting between the two teams this season West Chester showed exactly how it nearly went undefeated in the Mid Atlantic Division. The Pennsylvania side scored twice in the first half and took the lead two times after the young bulls equalized off a corner kick in the 22nd minute. A short kick into the box was passed around before a blocked header came back down at just the right angle for a falling New York player to kick it past traffic and into the net.

That was one of the few memorable moments for the offense which otherwise was kept in check. That included forward and Duke University soccer product Scott Taylor, who led the team with six goals in ten games during 2021. The loss closes out a gritty season for the group in which the team went undefeated in its last eight games after a middling start. That 5-3-0 stretch allowed New York to sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season as the third best team in the Metropolitan Division.

West Chester went on to beat the Ocean City Nor’easters the next day in the conference semifinals, 1-0. They’re scheduled to play the Western Mass Pioneers in the Eastern Conference Final this Friday as they continue their inaugural USL2 season,

National Premier Soccer League

For the third straight season FC Motown won the NPSL’s Keystone Conference playoff title, defeateding FC Monmouth, 2-0, on Sunday at Montclair State University.

The team’s two goals were scored two minutes apart, first via a penalty kick by Budd Lake, NJ native Ryan Peterson in the 36th minute before Michael Bello scored a beautiful scissor kick goal in the 38th minute. A Franco Catania cross from the left side landed neatly at the top of the box where a waiting Motown head lifted it toward Bello who never let it touch the ground outside of the net.

In an interesting note both of Motown’s goal scorers played professionally in the National Independent Soccer Association last fall. Bello was the leading scorer for New Amsterdam FC through all competitions, a title he still holds even after not playing in the Spring, while Peterson played for Detroit City FC and scored the game winning goal in the team’s fall championship victory over Oakland Roots SC last October.

Joshua Schaffer earned a clean sheet in net while a rotating squad of defenders kept Monmouth from getting many looks at net. Former Red Bull II players Roy Boateng and Samad Bounthong both got minutes on the backline and midfield respectively while MLS veteran Dilaver “Dilly” Duka came on at the start of the second half. Motown is also coached by former Red Bulls’ homegrown signing Šaćir Hot.

Finishing the regular season as the third best team in the conference, Motown went on the road in the conference semifinals and beat Atlantic City FC on Friday night, 3-2. Meanwhile 4th seeded Monmouth went on the road the same night and upset top seed West Chester United.

(Note: This match took place one day before West Chester played New York Red Bulls U-23 in the USL League Two playoffs.)

The trophy win is eerily similar to how the Morristown side won the title back in 2019, again as the third seed. That year the team beat the second seed (that time West Chester) in the semifinal while the fourth seed upset the top team in the conference, also by the same scorlines (3-2 & 2-1). Celtic went on to host and beat the fourth seed (that time Philadelphia Lone Star FC) at home, also by the score of 2-0, proving that time truly is a flat circle.

Morristown will now play the Southern Conference champion Georgia Revolution FC in the East Region Semifinal. The game is scheduled for this Friday, July 23rd, and will be played at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Essex in Maryland. Both it and the other semifinal are being hosted by #1 seed FC Baltimore Christos (though not without some juicy controversy). If Motown wins that game then the team will reach the final eight and will earn a top priority spot for the 2022 U.S. Open Cup, with every win after pushing the team higher up the priority list and closer to the league championship.

NISA Independent Cup

Following last weekend’s win over Newtown Pride FC, Lansdowne Yonkers FC was looking forward to a match against professional NISA side New Amsterdam FC. However, the same storm that wreaked havoc in Harrison also found its way to Warwick, New York and the match between the two teams was postponed. The make-up date has not been announced.

Since neither the Pride nor Mass United Rush (EPSL) were in action the past weekend Lansdowne still leads the New England Region table with three points.

Previously NAFC has travelled to Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers for friendlies in both 2020 and earlier this year, with both teams winning one game each. Last season in the Eastern Premier Soccer League however Yonkers beat New Amsterdam II in both their regular season matches, outsourcing the reserve side 8-2 on route to the Metropolitan Conference regular season title.

Lansdowne is scheduled to play Mass United this Saturday in Yonkers with both teams also heading to the EPSL playoffs later this month.

In the Mid-Atlantic Region, Atlantic City FC and Steel Pulse FC (EPSL, Baltimore, MD) tied, 1-1, in both team’s second match of the competition on Sunday. The Charm City side took a one goal lead into halftime but the Aces fought back enough to level the score and take home a point. The NPSL side traveled down to Blandair Regional Park in Columbia, MD only a few days after falling in the Keystone Playoffs, though the game day roster did not have much crossover from that night.

Following Maryland Bobcats win over Allentown United (UPSL) on Saturday, the NISA side sits in first place with four points with the group still open for anyone to win heading into this weekend.

United Premier Soccer League

Finally, one more lower league side is making a national title push. New York Contour United of Garden City, NY is one win away from the UPSL National Semifinals after defeating Mass United Rush, 4-0, last weekend for its first Northeast Conference title.

It’s next challenge will almost certainly be it’s biggest as the team will travel to Michihan to face the undefeated Midwest Conference champion Minneapolis City 2 (whose parent team is also a favorite in the NPSL National playoffs).

Contour is looking for it’s first trip to the final four in it’s short but eventful history. Since joining the UPSL in 2019 the team has won the American Division, both regular season and playoffs, in all three fall seasons that it’s played in.