Thursday, September 6, 2012

Looking Back on a Summer of Soccer (pt.2)

Continuing our roundup of soccer action throughout the warmer months, we'll now take a closer look at some football happenings here in the States ending our tour with a special focus on what has transpired right here in the Palmetto State.  Now of course the best place to start is the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.  Thanks to our temporary internet blackout, I was unable to convey the results of the Semi- and Final matches.  So, without further ado, lets pick up where we left off.  

US Open Cup
The Seattle Sounders made history in the Cup's Semifinal round by repeating history in a 4-1 whipping of Chivas USA before a capacity crowd at Starfire Sports Complex.  Becoming only the third team in cup history to appear in four finals, the Sounders went in search of an unprecedented four consecutive Open Cup titles.  In a sloppy and otherwise uninteresting match, Sporting KC bested the Philadelphia Union 2-0 in Philly, thus earning the right to host the final match.  

You could not have written a more dramatic script for the Cup Final.  Turbulent weather and a downpour of hail were the precursors to this incredible match.  The defending title holders and Open Cup legends, the Seattle Sounders entered a frenzied, sold-out Livestrong Park to take on a Kansas City side with something to prove.  The match was a defensive war of attrition as each team seemed content on simply survival.  But things changed in the 83rd minute as Sporting were awarded a penalty courtesy of a Zach Scott handball.  The eleven year Sounders veteran was punished as Kansas City took the lead by converting the kick.  However, the scapegoat turned hero by redeeming himself with a finely placed headed goal two minutes later.  Extra time could not separate the two and the game was to  be decided on penalty kicks.  In the third round, a spectacular Gspurning save gave Seattle the edge, only for the score to be leveled with a Sounders miss in the next round.  The drama reached a crescendo when another Gspurning save was called back because the keeper was off his line.  The Sporting player righted his wrong, and Seattle's Eddie Johnson missed his penalty to hand Kansas City the Cup.  
Although history eluded the Seattle Sounders, they didn't leave Livestrong Park empty handed.  Oddly enough, since the match ended in a draw, the Sounders unbeaten run in the Open Cup remains intact and the boys in Rave Green have the potential to continue the streak when the tournament begins again next year.  Also, former Charleston Battery Osvaldo Alonso was distinguished as the Player of the Tournament owing largely to his prolific scoring habit and incredible midfield form en route to the Cup Final.  

It was another fascinating year in the nation's most exciting soccer competition and well met with a thrilling conclusion with the Final.  With the trophy only just engraved, I'm already anticipating next year's draw!!  

Palmetto Bantams FC
The Bantams faced a steep learning curve in the South Atlantic Division of the Premier Development League.  Their season finished 4-5-7, not bad considering the club was built from the ground up in only a year's time.  The Bantams discovered how to play to the crowd, kicking off the campaign with a win and finishing their schedule with a rousing franchise-best performance, flattening the Northern Virginia Royals 4-0 in their home finale.

Austin Savage led the team offensively, with four goals and one assist.  Defender Jamie Ramm led the team in appearances and minutes with 16 games played, 1431 minutes logged, as well as bagging a goal of his own.  Easily one of the better outfitted squads in the PDL, the Bantams owe their colors and crest to their partner's in the English League Two, Bradford City.  With continued support and a widened fanbase, the Bantams are destined for bigger and better things...especially if they manage those exhibition matches with City!  Cheers to the Bantams and here's to many more seasons!!

Myrtle Beach Mutiny FC

The story of the Mutiny's inaugural season is in many ways much like that of the Palmetto Bantams.  In addition to MBFC, the National Premier Soccer League's Southeast (East) division is home to the Atlanta Silverbacks U23 squad as well as last year's NPSL champion Jacksonville United.  With former Charleston Battery striker Patrick "Thunder" Olalere coaching the new outfit, the Mutiny quickly established a local reputation and a loyal following.  Despite finishing last in their conference, MBFC displayed quality football with an international flavor and demonstrated strong community involvement.  Ending the season with a bang, the Mutiny drubbed the Georgia Revolution 4-1 in front of a live-wire crowd at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in their home finale.

Myrtle Beach's flag waving, band playing fans in the stands, the Lowcountry Crew, were in full force at every home match and practically every preseason match as well.  With a strong grass-roots initiative and an already powerful group of supporters, the Myrtle Beach Mutiny FC is sure to go far.  Let's here it for excellent football and tradition in the Palmetto State!!

(photo credit:,, MBFC FB)

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