Lansdowne Yonkers FC players, staff, and family pose with the National Amateur Cup following a 2-1 win over Cal FC in Bridgeview, IL on August 7, 2021. Photo: Patrick Murphy
(This story was originally published by Once A Metro on Aug. 12, 2021)
This is the second time the team has won the cup after a 2017 triumph. The win secures Yonkers a spot in the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and $7,000 in prize money.
Speaking to Once A Metro, club president William McGrory said this trophy has been a long time coming. Long before the pandemic, the work started on a field in Glendale, Wisconsin after the team’s previous title.
“It’s an amazing achievement considering what we have won already this season,” he said. “It’s something we have aspired to do since our first one in 2017. This is not an accident. There is a plan implemented and an enormous amount of hard work required by the coaches and players.”
The championship came after a grueling two game weekend at SeatGeek Stadium’s turf fields. Lansdowne, representing Region I of the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), entered alongside Springfield FC (IL, Region II), Nashville United (TN, Region III), and Cal FC (CA, Region IV).
Against Nashville in Friday’s semifinal Lansdowne quickly learned the team from the volunteer state was stacked. The same team has recently seen former New York City FC star Kwadwo Poku and Tampa Bay Rowdies all-time leading scorer Georgi Hristov in its ranks and they came to play with other ex-pros according to McGrory.
Ten minutes into the match former College of the Holy Cross soccer star Joseph DeVivo scored the match’s only goal when his shot deflected off a Nashville player and into the net. Despite constant back and forth, including Nashville owning possession to start the second half, the team pulled through for the narrow win. Meanwhile Cal beat Springfield, 4-2, to set-up a classic LA vs NY final.
Cal, who are best known for beating the Portland Timbers in the Open Cup back in 2012 under USMNT Eric Wynalda, are a major power out west. The team had only been eliminated from the UPSL national quarterfinals two weeks prior and were one of the amateur teams snubbed after they qualified for the 2020 Open Cup.
With under 24 hours to rest for both finalists the match was never going to be pretty. After taking the early game to feel eachother out, Cal struck first in the 30th minute. A cut-in from the right side and quick 180 reversal by forward German Alfaro gave him enough space at the top of the box. The low bouncer to the opposite net got past the diving Kabo Danso and Lansdown trailed heading into the half.
Whatever head coach Sean Kelly told his team during the break struck a nerve because it only took 40 seconds to tie the game. A long cross to the right side was headed by Shamir Mullings towards the opposite post. Former Richmond Kicker trialist Patrick McCann jumped up and popped another header over the keeper’s head. The Bhoys didn’t stop and in the 61st minute were awarded a penalty kick after a McCann shot attempt came off a Cal defender’s hand inside the area. DeVivo’s low conversion from the spot made it two goals in as many games for him.
The rest of the match was hectic as both teams fought valiantly. Cal earned a late spark when DeVivo earned a second yellow in extra time for decent (aka talking mad shit to the referee). The west coast side had two chances against the ten remaining New Yorkers but as the final one trickled wide right the final whistle blew.
“The entire team was superb,” McGrory said. “Johan Mauritzon, Bala Danso and Kabo Danso (were) outstanding, supported by Sean Reilly and Stephen Elias. Veterans Pat McCann and Daryl Kavanagh did well. Shamir Mullings was carrying an injury but did well when he was involved.
Huge team performance and from our two young first year coaches Sean Kelly and Craig Purcell.”
(Fun note: After the match Cal went on Twitter and called out USASA’s president by claiming the match was rigged against them)
Lansdowne Yonkers FC’s haul of trophies won during 2021, including the National Amateur Cup (third from left). Photo: Lansdowne Yonkers FC
The team previously known Lansdowne Bhoys FC will be making their third appearance in the tournament in 2022 (which has been officially confirmed by US Soccer). In both of their previous tournaments the team has one at least one game, including a professional upset over Pittsburgh River Hounds SC of USL in 2016. During that match keeper Abdoukarim “Kabo” Danso helped his team earn the 3-1 win and earned himself Player of the Round honors.
Despite being five years older the native Gambian has not lost a step, helping lead his team to an Eastern Premier Soccer League title while only allowing 15 goals all season. During the National Amateur Cup, from state to the national finals, the team still only allowed seven goals through nine games.
2021 has also been a highly productive year for Lansdowne. Winning multiple major trophies is hard enough but Yonkers won eight during the calendar year. This included the Eastern New York State Soccer Association Amateur Cup (not pictured above), EPSL regular season & league titles, and the 2021 Werner Fricker Open Cup. The later national title is also important since Yonkers is the first team to win both the Amateur Cup and Fricker both in the same year on two separate occasions (previously won in 2017).