Friday, 14 January 2011 00:00
Nassau County’s top amateur soccer club and two-time defending Long Island division 1 champions had a brand new setup entering the 2010/11 season. Calling it a “rebuilding phase,” club president Marco Dafonte shifted a majority of last year’s Long Island championship team to the reserve squad (affectionately known as “the people’s team”).
New signings such as 2001 NCAA Tharp Award Winner David Neves and former L.I. Rough Rider Captain Anthony Barbeiro added skill and strength, which set the reserves as preseason favorites. Former USA Junior National Team defender and Club VP Georgi Spanos then recruited top talent from around the area to Mineola’s premier team, signing, among others, former New England Revolution defender Gary Flood, L.I. Rough Riders Captain Danny Krammer, High School National Division 1 Champion MVP Shane Arikian, and former NY/NJ Metrostar Shaun Moamen to compliment a roster which already included a half-dozen former semi-professional players and amateur superstars.
“We knew that by playing in our 75th season this year we had to deliver something special to our fans,” said Dafonte.
The Mineola Premiers struggled early, losing its first two games, both after leading at half-time. However, coming after an undefeated 2009-10 championship season, this did not worry top management, such as general manager Gabriel Marques.
“We knew it would take time for the new team to ‘click,’ and, as expected, they finished the season winning the next seven straight games,” Marques said.
The MPSC outscored opponents 36-12 after those losses and is currently in second place at 7-2; one point behind league co-founders Forest Park in the Western Conference. The development team has exceeded, as predicted by Dafonte, who has since reiterated that the team is stronger than it has ever been. The reserve team currently holds the Western Reserve Conferences’ lead with a record of 6-1, and leads the league in offense.
In terms of the Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association, both teams have seen immense success this year. Currently, the premier team awaits the Central Park Rangers in the state semi-final matchup. To get there, the team beat Jamaica Portuguese Club 7-0, College Point 6-2, and Oceanside 6-1, outscoring opponents by a state-best 19-3.
The reserves await former state champion New York Irish Rovers in their quarterfinal matchup. To get there, they beat Kandria FC of the Bronx 3-2, Oceanside 4-0, and CD Iberia 3-1.
“If I didn’t know the players as well, I would say it was luck, but all the players, on both teams, go into every game wanting to win more than our opponents, and that is what has given us the edge so far,” Marques said.
The Mineola club now looks to win the “LISFL Joe Goldberg” winter-league before starting up the 2nd half of the regular season in March, while waiting until April to play the New York State semifinals.
About the Mineola Portuguese Soccer Club (MPSC)
The MPSC is an amateur adult soccer club that was founded in 1936, and first registered with the Long Island Soccer-Futebol League (www.lisfl.org) in 1948. Mineola was the fifth club ever to win a championship in the then newly formed league, winning in 1954 and again in 1956. Since then, MPSC has developed dozens of professional players and has won more than 100 soccer tournaments and events, including 3 New York State Championships (1966, ’81, and ’85) in its 75 year history.
The MPSC currently plays at Wheatley High School and is registered in the 1st Division with the Long Island Soccer-Futebol League (LISFL), Eastern New York State Soccer Association (ENYSSA), and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). For more information, logon to www.mineolaportuguese.com or find us on Facebook at Mineola Portuguese SC.