BLOOMFIELD, NJ – For the fourth time in five years, the Bloomfield Soccer Club is knocking on the door of a youth soccer National Championship.
The U16 Bloomfield Cheetahs will be flying into Indianapolis this Thursday, July 20, to get ready for Friday’s group qualifier play in the United States Club Soccer National Cup XVII. The final game is scheduled for Monday, June 24.
“Getting to a National Cup tournament requires so much work, not only from the players, but the coaches and parents,” said Club President Barry Weiner. “This is the stuff they call the dedication of champions.”
The Cheetahs will play three qualifier games. The first is Friday, July 21, 3 p.m. Eastern time, against the New Hampshire State Cup Champion. They will play Saturday, July 22, against the powerful Chicago Alliance, which won the US Club Midwest Regionals to qualify for the nationals. On Sunday, July 23, the last game of the group play, they will play against the North West Regional Champions GPS Oregon.
“These three teams Bloomfield has drawn are not here by chance; they are all hard-working and dedicated champions determined to bring the National Cup to their home state,” Weiner said.
After last year’s finish as United States Youth Soccer President Cup Finalist in Oklahoma, the 2016-2017 season has been a difficult challenge in returning to the national tournament spotlight. A win over Bloomfield gave teams “extra power points,” in the National ranking system. “Every team understood a win against Bloomfield meant a higher rank,” said Weiner. “Every match turned into a draining physical battle.”
At the US Club Mid-Atlantic Regionals played during the last week of June in Somerset, Bloomfield looked like they were making the trip to the Nationals as regional champions, with three impressive wins in the qualifying rounds. But injuries and the demand of the grueling five-day tournament took their toll and Bloomfield dropped a well-fought 1-0 decision to the Pennsylvania State Cup champions in the elimination round. The defeat seemingly ended their national aspirations for 2017.
“We had some unlucky bounces in the regional elimination game, and you can’t be unlucky against any state champion,” said Cheetah team manager Kellie Fabiano. “We thought we had the nationals on site and lost it. But then the call came from US Club Soccer this past Wednesday – the four US regional tournament winners and four wild cards from around the country would play in an eight-team group to decide the 2017 National Cup. Bloomfield got the invitation!”
“There’s a reason why we were chosen,” said John Fabiano, one of the Cheetah captains. “It’s because we deserve to play at these types of levels. We have what it takes and we never give up.”
“The Cheetahs are the underdogs in this tournament,” added Weiner. “But they have fought and bonded all year as a team; you only need a hot run for five days.”
“It’s the best feeling, being the underdog,” said team captain Anthony Rizzi. “We have nothing to lose and nobody knows we can win except us. We are a family, and that’s what drives us to win.”
It is clear the Cheetahs want to be the Bloomfield team that finally brings a National Soccer Championship to Bloomfield. This will be the second chance at the big trophy for coach John Ricca. Ricca led the Bloomfield United to the 2013 US Club National Cup Finals in Denver.
The Cheetahs have set up a gofundme page for anyone who would like to make a donation to the team. Visit www.gofundme.com/bloomfield-cheetahs-to-nationals