Welcome to our continuing series of Meet the USASA features where we annually profile the clubs representing the United States Adult Soccer Association in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Advancing from the four regional tournaments, these often unknown clubs have great stories to tell and each year, our goal is to allow fans to get to know them as they attempt to become this year’s Cinderella story.
While the name Greek American Atlas has not been seen in the US Open Cup in seven years, the club is very intertwined with the competition’s history. Founded in 1941, the club from New York City has won the Cup four times, including a three-peat from 1967 to 1969, making them one of four clubs to do so (Fall River/New Bedford 1930-32, Stix, Baer, and Fuller 1933-35, Seattle Sounders FC 2009-11). The club is also successful on the homefront, winning their division of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League 10 times since joining in 1994, including this season. The team also captured the Dr. Manning Cup in 2009, the main cup tournament for the Eastern New York Federation.
Atlas’ path to the Open Cup began with a satisfying 4-0 win over archrival New York Pancyprian-Freedoms in the Eastern New York Federation’s Open Cup, ending Pancyprian’s two-year run of USOC qualification. They were also authoritative in the USASA’s Region I qualifying tournament, notching 2-0 wins against Massachusetts’ Battery Park Gunners and eventual qualifier Jersey Shore Boca. This will be the fourth appearance in the Pro Era for Greek American, their other appearances resulting in a 2-0 forfeit to Western Mass Pioneers in 1998, a 4-1 loss to Cape Cod Crusaders in 2004, and a 3-0 loss to Ocean City Barons in 2005.
The club recognizes this history, as General Manager George Mellis explains. “Our clubhouse is like a museum, so that everyone who comes in knows about the honor and tradition when they put on a Greek American jersey.” “We are all honored to be playing for such a great club that is rich in history,” concurs player/manager Michael Todd.
However, the club also has to deal with the present. Some of the players split time between Greek American Atlas and the Long Island Rough Riders, and with both teams participating in the Open Cup, a compromise had to be made. “We let our members who also play for the Rough Riders play with them, and they will let them be available to us for the [USASA] Amateur Cup…. Our goal has been for the [history of the club] to be the national champion, though realistically we have a better shot in the amateur cup than the professional [Open] cup.”
|2011-12 NY Greek American Atlas season|
|Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Sep. 11 ‘11 – Win, 4-1 vs. NY Croatia
Sep. 17 ‘11 – Win, 3-0 vs. NYC Albania
Sep. 25 ‘11 – Win, 3-0 vs. Central Park Rangers Whites
Oct. 2 ‘11 – Win, 6-0 vs. Manhattan Kickers
Oct. 9 ‘11 – Win, 2-0 vs. Polonia FC
Oct. 16 ‘11 – Win, 5-1 vs. United FC
Nov. 6 ‘11 – Win, 4-0 vs. Clarkstown FC
Nov. 21 ‘11 – Win, 2-0 vs. NY Pancyprian-Freedoms
Nov. 27 ‘11 – Tie, 1-1 vs. Lansdowne Bhoys
Dec. 11 ‘11 – Win, 3-1 vs. NYAC
Mar. 22 – Tie, 2-2 vs. Polonia FC
Apr. 3 – Win, 2-0 vs. Barnstonworth Rovers
Apr. 17 – Win, 1-0 vs. NY Pancyprian-Freedoms
May 6 – Win, 4-0 vs. NY Croatia
May 8 – Win, 4-1 vs. Manhattan Kickers
USASA Region I Open Cup tournament
Apr. 1 – Win, 2-0 vs. Battery Park Gunners (MA)
Apr. 22 – Win, 2-0 vs. Jersey Shore Boca (NJ)
That does not mean they will be without capable weapons, by any stretch of the imagination. Chris Megaloudis has paced the team in goals through an undefeated regular season this year, and brings experience to the team having played with Red Bull New York. Captain Josh Trott has led the team in goals the past five years until Megaloudis took the crown this year. “Josh is one of the most dominant soccer players on the amateur scene,” states Todd. “His hard work and dedication is one of the platforms for the team’s success.”
Todd also has some history with Greek American Atlas, scoring a goal against his current team while while playing for the Ocean City Barons in 2005. “Our General Manager [Mellis] has not forgot nor forgiven me for it,” Michael recalls. However, Mellis shows that this history doesn’t matter in picking players or managers: “Once we saw Michael play with St. John’s [University, in NYC], we knew we wanted him in a Greek jersey, and we finally got our wish. We are very happy to have him here.”
Greek-American Atlas takes on Philadelphia Union-backed Reading United AC at 7 PM on May 15th, but they will not lay down for their opponent, with history on their side, and their minds on the present as well as the future.