“Immigrants of the Islands” making their first US Open Cup appearance
Translated into English from Portuguese, Emigrantes Das Ilhas means “Immigrants of the Islands”, but as manager/player Carlos Amado plainly states, it simply means “We’re from theCape Verde Islands.” The club was founded in 1987 and aside from two seasons with the Super N League, the team has played in the New England Luso American Soccer League, which was formed in 2001 after a merger of the LASA (Luso-American Soccer Association) and NESA (New England Soccer Association). Emigrantes were NELASA champions in 2004, and also won the 2008 Massachusetts state cup. Defeating fellow NELASA club Strela Negra for the honors.
Aside from their success in the USASA Region I Open Cup tournament, which earned them their first Lamar Hunt US Open Cup appearance. Emigrantes have also reached the Region I Amateur Cup final. Off the field, many of the younger players on the Emigrantes squad have been awarded scholarships to local colleges and universities due in part to their participation with the club. “We’re a non-profit organization and we rely on neighborhood goodwill and business-based funding for support,” Amado says of his club. “Currently we are actively seeking sponsorship to enable us to not only to continue to compete in NELASA, but to also satisfy our equipment and uniform needs.”
The roster for Emigrantes features many players with experience playing soccer abroad. Leading the way is Carlos Semedo. Semedo played briefly for the New England Revolution in 2002, and before that played professionally in Portugual for clubs like Clube de Futebol Estrela da Amadora and Vitoria Futebol Clube Setubal. Semedo was a part of the Portuguese team that won the European U18 Championship in 1999.the USASA Region I Open Cup tournament, which earned them their first Lamar Hunt US Open Cup appearance. Emigrantes have also reached the Region I Amateur Cup final. Off the field, many of the younger players on the Emigrantes squad have been awarded scholarships to local colleges and universities due in part to their participation with the club. “We’re a non-profit organization and we rely on neighborhood goodwill and business-based funding for support,” Amado says of his club. “Currently we are actively seeking sponsorship to enable us to not only to continue to compete in NELASA, but to also satisfy our equipment and uniform needs.”
|USASA Region I qualifiers Emigrantes Das Ilhas and Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks have found themselves in a unique situation. Both have advanced to the Region I Open Cup and Amateur Cup finals, which are both set to be played on June 21. On May 31, Emigrantes got there by defeating Pancyprian Freedoms 1-0, while the Hawks got by Baltimore Colts F.C. 3-1 in extra time.|
Semedo was also the first Portuguese native to sign with an MLS club.
Captaining the club is Carlos Fernandes, who has played in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) with the Rhode Island Stingrays, New Hampshire Phantoms and Cape Cod Crusaders. Zico Veiga has been twice selected for the US National Amateur team, and has also represented Cape Verde on the Under-21 level.
Emigrantes cleared their Open Cup hurdle on May 24 by defeating Danbury United 4-2 in extra time. In 2007 it wasDanbury who qualified at the expense of Emigrantes via penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. It looked as though history may repeat itself when Danbury tied the game at 2-2 on an 85th minute penalty kick. Prior to that, Emigrantes took a 2-1 lead on two goals from Zico Viega. However, Denivaldo DaSilva and Justin Fernandez came to the rescue for Emigrantes goals in the second overtime period.
“We were confident going to Connecticut because we felt that they were fortunate to beat us in PKs in Brockton (Mass.) (in 2007) and that it was a missed opportunity for our team,” Amado said. In fact, one of the goals of the club is to grow to the level that Danbury United has, both on the field and off. Danbury’s home field is a part of the Portuguese Cultural Center in Danbury,Connecticut.
Portuguese speaking clubs have had a strong history in the southern New England area, with its roots coming from immigrants from the Azores and Cape Verde Islands in the late 19th century. According to Roger Allaway’s book “Rangers, Rovers and Spindles”, the majority of the Portuguese speaking New Bedford, Massachusetts population came from the Western Azores andCape Verde via American whaling ships, while those who settled in Fall River hailed from theEastern Azores, and did so due to recruiting done by the Fall River textile industry. The 1947 Open and Amateur cup winning Ponta Delgada club, from Fall River, took its name from the capital of Sao Miguel, the island most of the towns’ Portuguese population came from.
While Cape Verde has yet to qualify for either the World Cup or African Cup of Nations, it has produced talents like Nani (Manchester United), Patrick Viera, Miguel (Valencia), Jair (New England Revolution) and Rolando (Porto). However, most of the top talent chose to represent other nations when they are eligible to do so.
Amado knows that his club’s First Round Open Cup game against the Western Mass Pioneers of the USL Second Division is more then just a chance to pull an upset. “This is an opportunity for some of our young players to display their talents and for us to make our Cape Verdeancommunity proud.”