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Lower League Round-Up: May 5, 2022

The USASA local circuit kicks off while Lansdowne keeps on chugging

Newtown Pride FC line up ahead of their Region I Amateur Cup Quarterfinal against the New York Greek Americans.
Photo by Simply Pause Photography

The Seattle Sounders won the Champions League last night. The New York Red Bulls are on a historic road winning streak to start 2022. That’s all great, but why not take a break from the professionals and look a bit closer to home?

The local lower leagues have had plenty of news over the past two weeks that deserve to be talked about. Multiple tournaments are either on-going, being finalized with teams fighting for placement, or just getting announced overall. There was also plenty of news that couldn’t even make it into this recap. Both national leagues are nearly set to start back up soon and might deserve a small preview with everything going on.

Regardless, read-up below on what’s been happening on the local circuit:

Regional Amateur Cup Results

While the 2022 U.S. Open Cup is entering its stride, that doesn’t mean it’s the only knockout competition in town. The United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) is currently in the process of holding amateur cup tournaments across the country. The last two weeks have seen Region I, which emcompasses the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, complete its quarterfinal round with multiple tri-state teams taking part.

Vistula Garfield SC, the lone New Jersey team in the competition, knocked off Fall River FC (MA), 3-1, on April 23. Despite upsetting FC Motown in March to qualify, Garfield was an enigma team coming into the tournament. Up against the defending Mass Soccer Amateur Cup champions they advanced with goals from Nicolas Kozdron, Andres Gonzalez, and Christopher Karcz. The team is hoping to win a major first-team trophy for the first time since 1970 in the same year it’s celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The other local team didn’t have a great result as the New York Greek Americans fell to 10-man Newtown Pride FC (CT), 3-2. The NYC squad caught a break up in Connecticut when the Pride were shown a red card in the 16th minute for kicking a Greek player in the face. The offensive didn’t get the memo however and the match remained scoreless until the 61st minute. Newtown’s Gabriel Ganzer was taken down at top of the box and awarded a penalty kick, which he converted to give the home side a lead. The Greeks’ finally came alive in the final stretch and both Saeed Robinson and Nelson Saravia scored in the final five minutes of regulation to make 2-1. Not wanting to end their tournament early, Newtown continued to press up and scored two goals of their own in stoppage time, another from Ganzer and a Greek own goal.

The historic NYC squad had high hopes for the competition after qualifying in extraordinary fashion. The team beat defending National Amateur Cup champions Lansdowne Yonkers FC in the Eastern New York Amateur Cup Final. That result ended Lansdowne’s 490 day winning-streak across all competitions.

Vistula Garfield will host Newtown Pride in the Region I semifinals on May 15. Time and location are yet to be announced.

The other half saw West Chester United SC (PA) down Appalachia Steel FC (PA/WV), 3-0, and Northern Virginia FC beat BSC Raiders (NY), 2-2 (10-9 in penalty kicks). Those two winners will play one-another on May 15 with NoVa hosting.

The Region I champion qualifies for the National Amateur Cup finals along with the three other regional winners. Those four teams will meet in a neutral location over the course of one weekend to decide a winner. The national champion wins the title, prize money, and a spot in next year’s U.S. Open Cup tournament.

(Full USASA Region I Tournament Information)

Hank Steinbrecher Cup Draw Revealed

Speaking of Lansdowne Yonkers FC, as last season’s National Amateur Cup champion the team automatically qualified for the 2022 Hank Steinbrecher Cup. Last week, the bhoys found out which team they’ll play first in the all-champion tournament.

Lansdowne will be facing the 2021 National Premier Soccer League champion Denton Diablos FC in the tournament semifinal on June 3 in Flint, Michigan. The other side of the bracket has the Flint City Bucks, the three-time defending Steinbrecher champions, taking on the National Soccer League (NSL) champion Houston Regals in the other semi. The Bucks are hosting the tournament as defending champions with all games played at Atwood Stadium between June 3-5. All matches (two semifinals, one final, possibly a third place match) will be streamed online as well.

The tournament, hosted by the United States Adult Soccer Association, has been around since 2013 but has been canceled the past two years due to the pandemic. No local team has ever won the competition, which awards a trophy, prize money, and the title of “U.S. National Amateur Champion”.

Eastern Premier Soccer League Playoff Format Announced

In some very exciting news, the Eastern Premier Soccer League (EPSL) is set to hold its largest playoffs yet. In just its second season, the regional league and its four conferences will be hosting a 15 team postseason to crown a champion.

For those that don’t know, the EPSL is a regional league that began with a partnership between two leagues; the New York based Cosmopolitan Soccer League and Maryland Majors Soccer League. It has established partnerships with other lower leagues, such as New Jersey’s Garden State Soccer League, to act as feeder leagues which allows for promotion and relegation.

Locally, the Metropolitan Conference is nearly locked up. Doxa SC is one win away from taking the top seed in the conference and winning the regular season title. Meanwhile New York Pancyprian Freedoms and Lansdowne Yonkers FC, the two teams that met in last season’s league final, both sit in second and third place respectively and will probably face off in the conference semifinals. The spot is currently held by Zum Schenider FC 03, though there is an outside chance that the New York Greek Americans swipe it on the final day should they win out.

Lansdowne being the defending conference (regular season) and league champions put them in a tricky position. The pressure and expectations are there but following a slump during March the team has been trying to recapture momentum heading into an important stretch of the calendar.

The newly created Delaware River Conference only has three playoff spots available but the top two teams look to be from New Jersey. International New Jersey FC (Burlington, NJ) and Real Central New Jersey (Ewing, NJ) are both separated by one point at the top of the table. With Inter currently holding the top spot, which includes a bye to the conference finals, it’ll be looking to win out the rest of the regular season. One final New Jersey team, Oaklyn United FC, is fighting to get into that third playoff spot. It and currently third place team Salone FC (Philadelphia, PA) both have five games left in the regular season with a tight schedule, including mid-week games.

The playoff champions of these two conferences, along with the Mid-Atlantic & Northeast conferences, will all gather at a neutral site for a league playoff this June. A random draw will determine those matchups and exact details are still being worked out.