Even after Far East United’s stirring run at The Soccer Tournament $1 Million Winner-Take-All was ended last night by Israeli squad Hapoel Tel Aviv with a 2-1 win by in the quarterfinals, the entire squad stayed on to watch the remainder of the competition right up to the finals that was contested by two amateur clubs, Newtown Pride and Sports League Canada.
Newtown United defeated Sports Leagues Canada (SLC), 2-nil, to take home the top prize in the four-day tournament that was held at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina from June 1-4.
Newtown Pride FC is based in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and featured a few Major League Soccer and national team veterans. The team finished with a 6-1 record and scored 25 goals, best in the tournament. They only conceded five goals, the fewest also in the competition.
SLC was composed of players from the Sport League Canada, the premier soccer league in Toronto that had former national players.
“After we got eliminated by Hapoel Tel Aviv, we hung out to further bond,” related Far East United’s Filipino team manager Ethan Lee. “We watched the semifinals and the finals sitting next to luminaries such as Cesc Fabregas, NBA star Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and the Wrexham Dragons to name a few.”
“We exchanged stories and experiences and also learned a bit more about each other’s cultures. It was a nice feeling to see how down-to-earth and humble these stars were.”
“Overall, I am happy with how our team performed despite all the logistical issues and last-minute roster changes. Next year, we will be definitely stronger and more prepared.”
Added Far East United’s head coach Matthew Holland: “The next steps have already begun beginning with the review of the tournament that will be followed by a draft phase for preparation.”
“We will be back next year. How can we not with all these new fans we have in the USA?”
The tournament featured 32 top seven-a-side football teams that also included delegations from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, Premier League teams West Ham United and Wolverhampton, MLS contribution Charlotte, Welsh National League champions Wrexham Dragons, Italian squad Como 1907, and many more.
Far East United featured three Filipino players Anton del Rosario, Joshua Dutosme, and forward Bienvenido Marañon who played with former Indonesian star Greg Nwokolo and Malaysian superstar Safee Sali among others.
Guam national team captain and former United Football League (Philippines) veteran Jason Cunliffe likewise gave a very good account of himself in the midfield.
Far East United was the talk of the tournament when they defeated West Ham and its bevy of Premier League veterans, 4-2, on opening day.
Although they lost to Culture by Mo Ali FC, 2-nil, in the next game, they advanced to the knockout rounds following Dallas United’s pull out after an alleged racist abuse incident against a West Ham player.
In the knockout rounds, Far East United hung tough against Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv but lost in the target score, 2-1.