News

Colorado State Cup Will Host a Mountain Premier League Final

Published May 15, 2019

THE MOUNTAIN PREMIER LEAGUE ROAD TO THE COLORADO STATE CUP FINAL

The 2019 Colorado State Cup saw three teams from the Mountain Premier League apply to participate. Sometime during the process of selecting participants, the 2018 participant and fall league champion Colorado Springs FC was omitted from this year's competition. CSFC Owner and General Manager Chad Heath expressed, "it's exciting to see how well our Mountain Premier League clubs dominated the competition at the state level."  Colorado Springs FC resumes league play this weekend versus FC Colorado with a 2pm kickoff at Greeley West High School.

GAM United and FC Boulder were the only Mountain Premier League clubs accepted into this year's competition. After acceptance into the Colorado Soccer Association tournament, details surrounding the competition's format were released. The path to the finals began with the Mountain Premier League clubs being placed into a separate pot to be drawn against a pot of Colorado Super League teams. This decision was meant to predetermine the live group drawing. Traditionally, live drawings provide the opportunity to engage an audience and give transparency for a random draw of a competition. Javier Arellano (a CSA employee and Guadalajara SC player) stated, during the live telecast on WB/FOX, that predetermining the draw, by separating the teams prior, guaranteed teams from different leagues to be drawn against each other. The results of the draw saw GAM United in Group B versus Guadalajara SC, SL Apatzingan, and Logrones SC. FC Boulder was drawn in group A against Colorado Rush, Indios Denver, and Seleccion NCFL.

GAM United FC team founder and president, Nfansa Janneh  (aka Coach Officer) was asked about how the tournament was going so far and how GAM United kept their focus and motivation to get to the final for a second year in a row?  "Our boys dialed in ever since we announced that we would be playing State Cup this year. They fell short last year by one penalty kick, so this year they took it upon themselves to really be focused during this years preparation for the tourney, and the results so far have shown their high commitment to the team and themselves. They coined the hashtag #roadtoredemption - We Stay United."

MPL asked, "when looking at the team and organization are there any differences this year from last?" Coach Officer answered, "My General Manager, Temi Osifodunrin and I sat down at the end of 2018 to evaluate the team. We were very honest about the state of our team and games played in 2018. We honestly had a great year but just dropped the ball in a few key moments. Going into 2019 the core of the team remained the same but we went out into our community to recruit more players to strengthen certain positions. After also discussing with GAM United FC, Director of Coaching, former Gabonese 1st Division player, Philip Alvaro we also brought in a new coach, Bruce Mitchley so the boys could get a new look at playing the game they love so much. We even brought in a goalie coach , Joe Pichette to work with our goalies. A majority of our boys are between the ages of 19 and 23 (minus two new 15 year old and 16 year old recruits) and they are starting to feel that their window to possibly get any type of professional look is closing so our boys are really focused this year."

Both teams were off to great starts taking all points from their first three games at Long Lake Park.  GAM United saw off Guadalajara SC in the opening game 5-3. FC Boulder opened with an 8-0 performance vs Seleccion NCFL. Game 2 saw Colorado Rush earn an early penalty off the referee before FC Boulder put five in the net. GAM United went to battle against Logrones  putting away three of their chances. GAM finished strong in group play against SL Apatzingan.  FC Boulder finished Game 3 with a 2-0 win over Indios Denver.  USASA is the governing body under US Soccer for the National Amateur Cup. In region IV of USASA, state associations have the right to host state cups as the qualifying path to enter the competition. Some state associations will assist with travel or hosting costs for their winner who represents that state competition.  In Colorado, the state cup is a group play in tournament format that lasts five weeks. Qualification for US National Amateur Cup varies in different regions. In states where the state association does not hold a state cup, teams can register directly for the regional tournament. The regional tournaments are a single elimination format organized at a regional level where travel implications are considered prior to a random draw deciding who will play in each round.

When the group stage drama subsided, the stage was set for the semifinals to be played at a new location, Stenger Soccer Complex field #37. These games were played back to back with limited time between final whistle and kickoff for the officials who worked both games to get reorganized and file away their match reports. This resulted in the second semifinal kicking off late. In the action of semifinal game 1, GAM United saw many chances go missing but were able to hold off Indios Denver 1-0, both teams meeting in back to back years in this semifinals of this competition. Semifinal game 2 was between two familiar teams. FC Boulder having their way with possession and defending the direct and disruptive style of Logrones. FC Boulder scored 2 goals in the second half of play that saw them advance to the final with a comfortable 2-1 win and Logrones finishing the game with 10 men on the field.

FC Boulder head coach Kyle Lineberger was asked about FC Boulder's performance in the tournament, and he responded, "Overall, I'm very happy with our progress. Although Sunday was not our best match, we were able to come through to the final and I was especially happy with our response after conceding the late equalizer." MPL asked Kyle about the FC Boulder organization as a whole and if there were any significant changes this year from last? In response Kyle explained, "We've increased the quality of our player pool and through our new setup with the Reserve team, we're now able to get some real consistency in training which I think has been the big reason we've done so well. We'll be addressing some consistent themes this week in training in addition to some areas specific to our opponent GAM. Hopefully we can put together an entertaining match and bring home another cup for the club."

GAM United and FC Boulder have not seen each other in league play since Spring of 2018. Both teams have added new pieces in attack and defense and the game promises to be a fast tempo and physically demanding. It was indicated that Adam Zarrin will be the center official and Denver Kickers stadium will be the site when these two meet May 19th at 3pm. The game will be streamed live on Facebook.