GPS Omens celebrate their 2015 Bay State Soccer League MacKenzie Cup championship. Photo: GPS Omens
The more things change, the more they stay the same: it’s a phrase that rings especially true for Massachusetts-based USASA side GPS Omens.
In 2013, the Bay State Soccer League (BSSL) squad qualified for the US Open Cup tournament for the first time as Mass Premier Soccer, a moniker that was replaced by GPS Massachusetts, when in 2014 and 2015.
After missing the cut last year, the boys from Boston are back and it’s only fitting that they will sport a different name that they adopted last year.
“When Mass Premier Soccer merged into Global Premier Soccer (GPS), we saw it as an opportunity to refresh our name with something unique to the current players,” Omens skipper Greg Zuboff said. “We were originally the MPS MOA (Monsters of the Apocalypse). We changed to GPS Omens, which is a phrase used among our players in a social setting, though it’s also foreshadowed our terrific success under this brand.”
No doubt Omens have certainly enjoyed plenty of success as of late. In 2016, they became the first team in BSSL history to post an undefeated season by going 16-0-2. That remarkable run not only allowed them to be crowned league champions, but it also extended to Open Cup qualifying as well, as they beat Southie FC (MA) and Newton Pride (CT) to earn one of the 17 local qualifier spots in the 99-team field.
So how does Omens, an outfit whose identity seems to change with the autumn leaves, remain one of the best amateur sides in New England? One word: Depth
“We have a 30-man roster, and given personal schedules we usually turn out half for any game,” Zuboff said. “Any combination of that 30 is a force, and it’s enabled our success, particularly in late June games where occasionally find ourselves with only 11 or 12 men.”
Among the 30-man roster, a total of 21 players remain from the squad’s last Open Cup run back in 2015, and 15 have stuck around for each of the three first-round tilts since 2013, according to Zuboff. That familiarity among the players has no doubt made them one of the most formidable amateur outfits in New England.
Case in point: Omens has picked up right where they left off following last year’s table-winning season by notching victories in each of their first BSSL matches this year and already boast a goal-differential of +28.
But relying on longstanding connections isn’t the only dynamic at play when it comes to their success.
“We also don’t take the game too seriously,” Zuboff said. “This is an outlet for our otherwise white collar lifestyles, and so we are there to play because we love the game, we love to win and we love drinking our coolers after a hard fought victory.”
After many such victories in league play last season, Omens is seeking something greater when they begin their Open Cup run in earnest on May 10 at GPS Portland Phoenix, which will take place in Portland, Me. The game is a rematch of the club’s first-ever Open Cup game in 2013 when they lost 2-0 to the Phoenix on the same field at Deering High School in Portland.
“The Open Cup is an opportunity to play against first class opponents and test our might,” Zuboff said. “Our league is very strong; however, the added diversity of playing teams against which we don’t regularly compete adds excitement about the unknown. “
The excitement and the unknown are undeniable draws for many amateur squads who’ve earned tickets to the historic tournament. But the way Zuboff tells it, there’s even more at play when Omens packs its bags for Portland on Wednesday.
“We also take advantage of the chance to travel together,” Zuboff said, “and enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with that.”