The Champion of the USL Premier Development League (USL PDL), the Champion of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the USASA Werner Fricker Open Cup Champion, and the Champion of the National US Amateur Cup will all take the same fields on the weekend of May 29 through 30.
What is the reason for the junction of these best of the best titles, but the US Soccer National Amateur Championship? It is the chance to bring home the Hank Steinbrecher Cup, and claim the title of the best amateur club in the country. This is a big deal. If what is above does not convince you, here’s more about why:
“The PDL, the NPSL, USASA—all entries have adult soccer. We have five to six champions. Why not have US Soccer Crown an Overall Champion?” said John Motta, US Adult Soccer Association President.
That sentiment is central to this competition now in its third year. What club is truly the best amateur one in the country? Each of the Championships, that qualify teams for the tournament, are prestigious in their own right.
The US Adult Soccer Association began determining its own champion of the Open Cup in 1999. Shortly thereafter, the cup was named in honor of Werner Fricker. In 2014, the Maryland Bays won the cup at the National Cup Finals in Sandy, Utah. The Bays play in the Maryland Major Soccer League, the states only Elite US Amateur League as recognized by USASA. The Bays have won the league championship for the past six seasons as well. This year, the Bays competed in the first round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup as well.
“We want to take last year’s success and give it a good showing in Chattanooga. That’s what the guys are talking about,” Bryan Bugarin, Head Coach of the Maryland Bays.
The NY Greek Americans have won the US Open Cup four times in their history and the championship of the Cosmopolitan League eight times. The Cosmopolitan League is another Elite US Amateur League as designated by USASA. The Greeks have been busy lately in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in addition to preparing for the US Soccer Amateur Championship. The National US Amateur Cup dates back to 1923, and today is the most prestigious of USASA’s competitions. The Greeks won the US Amateur Cup in 2014 after three consecutive appearances at the finals. For the Greeks, holding the Amateur Cup title is special.
“For us, it’s an honor to represent the USASA as its Amateur Cup Champion. Our goal is to go to Chattanooga and win the Hank Steinbrecher Cup. The Amateur National Cup was one of the few cups that was missing from our trophy case and the Steinbrecher would complete the collection,” said Stavros Zomopoulos, Head Coach NY Greek Americans.
The USL PDL is a national league with 65 teams in four conferences in the United States and Canada. The Michigan Bucks were the 2014 Champion of the USL PDL. Winning that league championship qualified them for the US Soccer National Amateur Championship.
“We are obviously honored to be a part. It means we did really good last year. I am very happy that US Soccer has made the investment. The other clubs are all champions and deserve to be there,” said Dan Duggan the CEO and Chairman of the Michigan Bucks.
The NPSL has over 80 teams in four regions as a national league across the country. Chattanooga FC, who is the host and is vying for the title was the runner up to NY Red Bull U23 last year. The Red Bull side moved up to the pro league of the USL in 2015 and therefore could not compete in this amateur competition. As a result, Chattanooga FC has taken the opportunity not only to attempt the capture of the title but also to host the competition at Chattanooga FC and Finley Stadium in Tennessee.
“We’re thrilled to host the Steinbrecher Cup here in Chattanooga, and to have Hank Steinbrecher here for the event. We hope to provide the sort of exciting, electric environment that Finley Stadium has become known for during Chattanooga FC games,” said Tim Kelly, Chattanooga FC Board Member.
It is not all about hosting for Chattanooga. They are in it to win it as well. “The competition will be strong, and we’re eager to compete with the best amateur teams in the US,” said Sean McDaniel, their General Manager.
On Wednesday, April 22, John Motta and Hank Steinbrecher conducted the draw for the competition from Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. As the online video can attest, the former Secretary General of US Soccer was at ease performing the draw. He was calm, confident, yet the spark of excitement of a man whose life is in soccer was very evident. You could feel it in his tone and inflection. John Motta spoke about the Championship’s namesake.
“Who would be the best person? I think Hank is a pioneer, the best soccer advocate out there! He has pride in this,” said Motta when asked about the naming of the cup.
Hank Steinbrecher had a number of things to say about the competition, the honor, and amateur soccer, but this passage reveals whom the man is and why the cup takes his name.
“I’ve contributed to the game, but the game has contributed to me. Having played amateur soccer, I know that the adult amateur game is the heartbeat of soccer. I’ve had some honors: The Hall of Fame, the Commissioners Award, the Werner Fricker Award, US Soccer’s highest honor, but having this championship named after me is an incredibly distinct honor,” said Steinbrecher.
NY GREEK AMERICANS (US Amateur) vs. MICHIGAN BUCKS (USL PDL)
Friday, May 29 | 5:00pm
CHATTANOOGA FC (NPSL) vs. MARYLAND BAYS (USASA Open)
Friday, May 29 | 7:30pm
The Championship Final and third place matches will take place on Saturday, May 30 at 5:00 and 7:30pm respectively. You can get passes for the weekend at Chattanoogafc.com