Monday, June 9, 2008

Better Know a Soccer Club

Stephen Colbert has his "Better Know a District" gimmick. Well, I'm starting my "Better Know a Soccer Club" in the run-up to the First Round of the Open Cup. Unfortunately I don't have a contract like he does nor the ability to use the segments as filler. Instead the cup is a timely event that begins tomorrow. So here's a quick glance at the USASA and NPSL, i.e. the lowest tiers, clubs participating.

RWB Adria
Hometown: Chicago, IL
A Region II club of the USASA, Red White and Blue Adria has strong Croatian affiliations as they regularly plays in the Croatian-North American Soccer Tournament. They've also arguably won the most trophies in the state of Illinois.

New York Pancyprian Freedoms
Hometown: Queens, New York City
The Region I Freedoms have, or attempted to, qualify for every US Open Cup since its inception. They're also the last repeat victors, accomplishing the feat in 1982 and '83.

Clearwater International F.C. Galactics
Hometown: Clearwater, FL
Region III and Florida Suncoast Soccer League (FSSL) champions, Clearwater is a non-profit club with loads of teams. Yet their real interesting facets lie in their website. Seriously: underlines, highlights, and bold markings? Yikes.

ASC New Stars
Hometown: Houston, TX
Aria Soccer Club was founded in 1974 by Iranians Reza and Taher Khalili. The New Stars is their top team, comprised of players under the age of twenty-five. They're the Houston and Texas State Champions, and with the exception of a 4-4 draw with Greenwood Wanderers in qualification, they won their group handily.

AAC Eagles
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Another ChiTown club affiliated with an Eastern European nation, the Eagles have roots in Poland. Although they have an impressive track record, its hard to get any information or history from their website.

Boston Olympiakos
Hometown: Boston, MA
Founded as Boston United in 1990, the club changed the name to its current state in 1996. Although they've done quite well in the Open Division of the Massachusetts State Soccer League (winning 5 titles) and the Amateur Cup Finals (winning it last year), this is the first time they've ever been in the Open Cup.

Arizona Sahuaros
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
The nomadic Sahuaros have a history of changing names and leagues, but find themselves participating in the NPSL's Southwest Conference for 2008. Additionally, the qualification for the US Open Cup occurred in the club's first four matches of the season. Yet the team has nine players from their last appearance in 2006, so its no surprise they're in it again. They're also the only NPSL club in the tournament.

Hollywood United
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Although I hate LA, Hollywood, and everything to do with SoCal, this club has a great history. Back in the 80s British ex-pats like Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, among others, used to frequent this one pub and decided to form a team. The club has transformed from an actual pub team into an amalgamation of competitive players, and b-list movie stars and musicians -- Anthony LaPaglia is the club's chairman -- but hey, what else did you expect?