Every year, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup includes a new batch of amateur clubs hoping to be the tournament’s latest Cinderella story. And every year, TheCup.us introduces soccer fans across the country to these teams that have been the heart and soul of this competition for more than a century. This year, we are expanding our annual “Meet the USASA” series to include the USSSA and US Club Soccer. We bring you “Meet the Underdogs.”
Bay State Soccer League (BSSL) side Global Premier Soccer Massachusetts (GPS) is set to kick off its 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup campaign on Wednesday against the USL-PDL Seacoast United Phantoms at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass. at 8 p.m. For GPS, who as a United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) club that earned qualification by finishing runner-up in the Region I Open Cup tournament last June, it’s the third straight year the club has made it to the tournament. When they first made it in 2013, they were the first USASA club based in Massachusetts in five years to make the tournament.
“The team at its core has remained much the same [from when it qualified in 2013], particularly the way we go ahead and approach the way we show up every day,” said GPS-Massachusetts player/coach Gregory Zuboff who joined the team in the Fall of 2013, after their first Open Cup run. “We’re a group of guys that are young professionals here in Boston and most of us have played soccer through our whole lives and just continue to play for the love of the game. We come out and meet up once a week during the week to get some fitness and keep our form and then get a game or two in on the weekends to stay competitive.”
GPS, which changed its name from Mass Premier Soccer shortly before last year’s Open Cup to fall in line with the name of the youth clubs it is affiliated with, is an adult amateur team that plays its home games in Wayland, Mass. The team has had some players that have gone through the GPS system, but the affiliation, which began in 2008, has mostly benefited the club in other ways.
GPS Massachusetts, formerly Mass Premier Soccer, won their first Massachusetts Open Cup championship in 2011 and since then have three of the last four years.
“They’ve been very supportive of us – always helpful in terms of managerial responsibilities such as finding fields,” said Zuboff. “Anytime we’re in a crunch they come through. We have a great relationship with Joe Bradley who runs the organization, so we like to stay as involved as we can and they’ve been a great organization to be a part of.”
The affiliation just adds further to the credibility of one of the most successful amateur teams in Massachusetts. The team has built its continued success around a core of players who have stuck with the club long term.
“A lot of the guys have been with the team 5, 6, 7 years and it’s a testament to the team that they stick around,” said Zuboff. “They love to come on Saturday morning for the game, at the coolers after the game and so it’s pretty similar makeup of the team.”
The team is further aided by a host of players with professional experience. Among them are Keith Caldwell (formerly on MLS side Colorado Rapids and brother of current New England Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell), Charles Romero (USL’s Charleston Battery), and Joe Vella (lower divisions in Spain). Perhaps most notable is Sam Brill, who played for the New England Revolution as well as lower division teams in Germany and Sweden. Brill scored the game-winning goal for the Revolution in a 3-0 victory over the USL’s Richmond Kickers in the Third Round of the 2008 Open Cup. He also started at center back for the Revolution in their quarterfinal penalty kick win over USL’s Crystal Palace Baltimore that year, but didn’t play when the team was eliminated by D.C. United in the semifinals.
“Sam [Brill] is a great leader for this team,” said Zuboff. “He’s never been a captain, but he’s been a stronghold in our defense for a number of years and he’s a real leader on and off the field. Very composed guy, very talented guy, so he in many ways is a leader on the team and the players on the team look to him for guidance and really respect what he has to say. Particularly on the field during tough games we look to him to show up and perform and he does.”
But, although GPS has done well to make it to three straight US Open Cups, the team has fallen in the first round on both occasions thus far: 4-1 to the Western Mass Pioneers (USL-PDL) in 2014 and 2-0 to GPS Portland Phoenix (USL-PDL)—another team under the GPS umbrella—in 2013. An impressive history of success and championships in the BSSL and amateur cups has yet to translate when facing teams higher up in the soccer pyramid in the Open Cup.
“We do quite well in our local leagues here in Massachusetts,” said Zuboff. “We have some great competition here, but we typically perform. We’ve had some tough results when we’ve gotten to the Open Cup as of late. It’s definitely top of mind for us, we’ve know we’ve got to come out and show up right from the get go. Seacoast is going to be a great competitor, so we know we’ve got to show up and certainly the results from the past will fuel us to work that much harder.”
GPS’ recent results show just what the club is capable of in the BSSL. This past Saturday they crushed Oneida FC 6-0. The weekend before Kendall Wanderers B was their victim, falling 7-0. The team now sits at 3-1 to start the BSSL season and is riding a three game winning streak. Undoubtedly, momentum is on their side.
“We’re hoping to carry that forward into the Cup game [on Wednesday],” said Zuboff.
If they do that successfully, a first ever trip to the second round and a home match against USL’s Tulsa Roughnecks awaits.