Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brooklyn Italians – Mass Utd FC (29-05-2011)

Initially, I was not that interested in National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), as it is officially a non-professional league. But, after my very positive experience at the Chattanooga FC game, I decided to see another NPSL game during my stay in New York. After all, who can ignore a team with the name Brooklyn Italians?

The Brooklyn Italians play in at John Dewey High School in a rough part of Brooklyn, NY; in fact, the school and pitch were surrounded by barb wire! There were no ticket office or bleachers; just a couple of 2-3 person benches on one side of the pitch. There was also no announcer and it was one of the only games I ever visited in the US that did not start with the national anthem (because of a lack of a sound system, I presume). This was without any doubt the most amateuristic setting I have ever visited as a groundhopper.

There were some 25 ‘spectators’, I guestimate most in one way or another linked to the clubs or players. An old man sat next to us and introduced himself as the president of the Brooklyn Italians. In poor English with a very heavy Italian accent he told us the heroic story of the club, which was founded in 1948 and has won several soccer prizes since.

From the outset the Brooklyn Italians dominated the game. Their young team created several half chances by good combinations. And they had a secret weapon; a player with a salto throw-in (or flip throw-in) –something I so far had only seen in women soccer. In the 21st minutes he had another long throw-in, which was boxed out by the goalie, but the rebound was headed in: 1-0.

In the 24th minute the visitors from Massachusetts had their first good chance, but the striker jumped under the great cross. But the Italians remained dominant and in the 31st minute a corner kick was headed in: 2-0. Mass Utd FC created and wasted yet another chance, before the Italians scored their third after bad defending. 3-0 was also the half time.

The first fifteen minutes of the second half saw some good pressure from the guests, but the Italians withered that storm pretty easily. In the 67th minute Mass Utd had a good counter attack, but the shot went wide. Eight minutes later they had another good chance, followed by a great counter attack of the hosts, but the ball ricocheted off the post.

In the 83rd minute the guests finally got what they deserved, after bad defending of the hosts: 3-1. Two minutes later a Mass Utd striker pushes through and forced the goalie to make a save. The 86th minute a long throw was headed in: 3-2. The final minutes were tight, but in the end the (much) better team did win 3-2.

The Brooklyn Italians might be a US soccer institution (see their wiki-site), but as far as infrastructure goes, they are even below an average amateur team. Hell, when I played junior soccer at the age of 11, in the Netherlands, I would play for more people! That said, a team with that name should grow and go professional. If they do, I’ll be back!

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