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OaM Lower League Round-Up: September 2, 2021

New teams and kits are launched around the Tri State Area while one club on the other side of the ocean has a peculiar connection to The Red Bull

Real Central New Jersey during their inaugural USL League Two season this past summer.
Photo by Stephen Goldsmith

The international break means there’s a two week break from watching the New York Red Bulls. Whether you think that’s a good or bad thing is subjective, but elsewhere around the Tri State a few pieces of news have been making the rounds. The recent success of Lansdowne Yonkers FC has been dominating the headlines which means one team’s cool kit collaboration has fallen through the cracks. Meanwhile one league is continuing to expand and adding some big names ahead of the upcoming season. It’s all covered below.

With that out of the way here’s the recap of all the locals.

Eastern Premier Soccer League Launches New Conference

On Monday, the Eastern Premier Soccer League (EPSL) announced it’s fourth conference that will be kicking off for the 2021/22 season. The newly created Delaware River Conference will encompass southern New Jersey and portions of eastern Pennsylvania.

The conference is hoping to cut down on travel costs for teams that are based in between the Metropolitan Conference (NYC area) and Mid-Atlantic Conference (Virginia & Maryland). Just last season this was seen when Philadelphia Lone Star FC competed in the Metropolitan, meaning long trips up the turnpike were common both ways. Two teams have been announced as founding members with two more coming within the week with the EPSL claiming all are within 40 miles of each other.

Interestingly, Lone Star seems to have left the league among reports the EPSL has been trying to lure in UPSL teams (which Philly’s president Paul Konneh works for as a conference manager.)

Real Central New Jersey was announced as the first member not long after the conference launch. It’s based out of Mercer County and wrapped up its inaugural seasons in both USL League Two and Women’s Premier Soccer League earlier in the summer. The men’s side struggled in the Mid Atlantic Division of the USL, finishing last and only winning two games. However joining the EPSL presents a chance for players to keep training and competing year round should they want to.

“We’re excited to be offering another opportunity for soccer players in our area to play at a high level,” said RCNJ men’s general manager Ira Jersey in the announcement. “There are other historic clubs already playing in EPSL and we look forward to our new team providing players who do not play collegiately or have graduated to continue playing competitive soccer.”

Former Arcadia University head men’s soccer coach Robert Nydick has already been named the gaffer for the new team.

The second team announced was Danubia SC out of Philadelphia, PA. Originally founded in 1957 by displaced ethnic Germans, the club has competed for decades in the historic United Soccer League of Pennsylvania. A third team, International New Jersey Football Club (Burlington, NJ & Philadelphia, PA), was announced on Wednesday and was formed earlier this year.

While not officially announced at the time of this writing the final founding member appears to be Kensington Soccer Club (Philadelphia, PA) as they are currently listed with the other three members on the EPSL’s website as conference members.

The Delaware River Conference will play a split season format for 2021/22. The four founding members will play a home and away round robin format this fall with the top finishing team being declared champion. More teams are set to join during the winter months and will begin play in Spring 2022. The champions of each season will compete in a playoff for the EPSL interconference playoffs at the conclusion of the Spring.

Williamsburg International FC Announce New Kit Set

The next Cosmopolitan Soccer League season is approaching quickly. While plenty of teams have been recruiting and practicing to prepare for 2021/22 one of them has also taken steps to make sure they look damn fine while doing it. Brooklyn, New York side Williamsburg International FC announced last month the creation of three new kits for their teams that fans will also be able to purchase.

Based out of the aforementioned borough neighborhood, Williamsburg have competed in the CSL’s Division 2 since 2017 and also field a team in the D2 reserve league. This season WIFC took another step in their growth and announced they’d also field a third team in the CSL’s Division 4 as well, meaning these new kits will be getting plenty of use this season.

The three new jerseys, produced by the kings of the lower league kit Icarus FC, look fantastic. Designed by Rich Butterworth and WIFC reserve team player Will Crum, all but one of the new kits is a departure from the team’s historic color palette. Even more all stand out especially for a squad that is essentially playing in what could be considered the unofficial sixth or seventh tier of the American soccer pyramid.

The first kit features the team’s signature dark green with subtle patterns running all across it. An evolution of the previous design while keeping the historic color and tradition heading into the team’s ninth CSL season. The second kit is a huge departure from what has traditionally been a yellow, vertical bar/stripes kit. Instead the team has decided to go with a mix of violet and dark pink with thunderbolt-esque horizontal stripers running along the chest. The single white stripe running along the side and collar is also a nice touch.

The third and final design might look like something a Brooklyn hipster would wear to a bar-b-que to be honest. The pink-ish floral patterns atop a black base kit with white trim once again running along the sides and collar definitely stands out. If it’s going to be worn by the keeper it definitely will be distinct enough to possibly distract opposing offenses. All three also have the charm of a local sponsor, Kings County Brewers Collective, on full display across the chest.

Anyone interested in picking one up will be able to do so starting later this month according to the club. Anyone interested in seeing the team in action can hopefully watch them in person around the city this upcoming season with the schedule set to come out soon. The team is hoping to return to it’s historic home at Bushwick Inlet Park soon following it’s renovations. They’ll be looking to win their first piece of league silverware since 2017.

The Red Bull in the FA Cup

When I first started writing about the lower leagues for OaM a couple of rules were established; the topics covered had to be related to the general, local area and/or had to have a connection to the Red Bulls. Stretching the bounds of technically allow me to introduce Jersey Bulls FC; a team from the island of Jersey who compete in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South (9th tier of English football). While the New York Red Bulls take their poultry international break the boys from Jersey have a huge match in FA Cup qualifying this weekend.

The London-based 8th tier VCD Athletic F.C. will be making the trip across the channel to take on the Bulls in the competition’s First Qualifying Round. The Vickers are coming off a 3-2 win in the previous round when a second half goal stifled a comeback over home side Raynes Park Vale.

Bulls’ Forward Sol Solomon has already scored five goals in two games during the competition with forward Lorne Bickley just behind following his hat trick in the first match. Meanwhile keeper Euan Van der Vliet has only allowed three goals during his four games across all competitions so far this year.

Excluding the high scoring forwards, there are a ton of similarities between RBNY and the amateur Bull side. They both play in some version of Jersey (with RBNY just being in the newer model), they both have a red bull as a mascot/club icon, and last month the European team had nearly 1,000 people attend it’s FA Cup match which is about what we’ll be getting in Harrison by year’s end.

Heck, RBNY is already one of the team’s 4,000+ followers on Twitter so there must be a kindred connection there! If they can scout Steven Sserwadda from Uganda who’s to say they don’t have eyes on a defender like Luke Campbell or dual threat Jay Giles?

In all honesty though the Jersey Bulls are an interesting story right now. Founded back in 2018 the team came about after UEFA decided against granting Jersey membership status in order to offer a better level of football for island players. The team went 27-0-0 (99 goals for, 7 against) in its first season before COVID caused the league to be abandoned. After the pandemic caused another cancellation the following year a decision was made to promote the young side based on combined yearly results.

Coming into the season the team entered FA Cup Qualifying for the first time. When the Bulls hosted Horsham YMCA in early August this year it set a record for the most Southern match ever in the competition’s 150 year history. They also won that Extra Preliminary Round match 10-1.

Following another win in the Preliminary Round the team has a chance to advance further in one of the greatest national knockout competitions in the world. The fact that a team from a tiny channel island is in the final 400 of a competition that started with 637 clubs is already awesome enough but I want to see them go further.

At the end of the day the RBNY fanbase is kinda weird, and we all know it. It’s the same group that complains about team management while posting images of an anthropomorphic Bull holding money and chanting “The Red Bull” for almost no reason. Well, a different red bull has a match this weekend and we got nothing else going on over here with our team.

Waking up for the 5:45 AM kickoff (12:45 GMT) is probably gonna be too much for me. But if you are interested the game might be broadcast on BBC Jersey or just given updates on the team’s Twitter.

At the very least they’ve gotten a new follow on social media and someone else who will be rooting on their success. After all, Jersey bros gotta stick together whether it’s the guido new generation or OG group. I’m willing to take this stance as well; if the Jersey Bulls make it to the FA Cup proper, I’ll buy one of their kits so I can watch them properly.

The Bulls are also competing for the F.A. Vase, a competition for teams in the 9th & 10th tiers of English soccer. That First Qualifying Round match will see the team head to Greater London to play Tooting & Mitcham United F.C on September 12. The winning team will pocket £525 (about $720 USD) and either advance to the Second Qualifying Round later this month or directly to the first round proper in October.