By Jay Mwamba
The U.S. Amateur soccer title in the bag, CSL juggernaut Lansdowne Bhoys continue their quest for an unprecedented national cup double in the USASA’s Werner Fricker Cup Final Four in Pontiac, Michigan, this Friday. The newly crowned U.S. amateur kings face Michigan Sporting in the semi-finals at the Ultimate Soccer Arena. Kick-off is 7 p.m. local time.
“We are looking forward to Detroit now and the Werner Fricker national cup finals,” said Lansdowne president William McGrory. “The amateur [title] was a massive achievement and we are only now settling down from the high. We have the guys back in at training and coach Friel is now getting them prepared to compete again at the highest level.”
The Bhoys upset local side and six-time national champions Bavaria SC 9-8 on penalties in Milwaukee, Wisconsin two weeks ago to become the first Irish club to be crowned U.S. amateur kings.
McGrory said like was the case in the U.S. Amateur Cup, there will be no easy games in Michigan with two of three highly rated teams standing between his Bhoys and another national trophy.
In Michigan Sporting, the Yonkers Irish tackle one of the top sides in the Michigan Premier Soccer League. The winners clash with either KS Quinto Elimento or CD Montagua in Saturday’s final, also at the Ultimate Soccer Arena.
McGrory is hoping that his players make a quick recovery from U.S. Amateur Final.
“We didn’t escape the weekend unscathed, with several players taking knocks,” he noted. “They will need to do fitness tests before we leave [although] three are very doubtful. But with a pool of 30, coach Friel will still have a strong 22.
“It will be a unique experience as the matches will be played on a full sized pitch but indoors. The facilities are state-of-the-art and have been used for the NPSL, PDL and USL. It has also been one of Team USA’s training bases.
“It’s been an amazing and long season so far. We are pretty much in our usual preseason for the CSL return so no doubt there is a bit of [fatigue] but I think coach Friel and the Bhoys will be up for the battle and give it everything to do a unique national double.”
Said Friel: “We hope to have 22 players traveling and fit to perform when called upon, we have done a few of these two-day tournaments over the last couple of years and that experience will be vital in our efforts to be successful this weekend again.”
Lansdowne defeated Christos FC of Maryland 3-1 on penalties [after a 1-1 tie] in Pennsylvania last June to clinch the USASA Region 1 title and qualify for the Fricker Cup Final Four.
The next generation of Bhoys, meanwhile, flew out to Scotland last week. Lansdowne’s Under-12s are in Glasgow where they are competing with Celtic FC and other Scottish Academy teams in their age category.
“They will train at both of Celtic’s training facilities, Barrowfield in the inner city and the top class Lennoxtown Grounds,” said McGrory. “They will also meet coaches, tour the famous paradise and get to attend two games.”
One of them will be Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against FC Astana at Celtic Park today [Wednesday]. With the team are coaches Craig Purcell, Seamus McDaid and Gene O’Driscoll.