New England Soccer Today

Elm City 90 Minutes from Championship Glory

Photo credit: Emotions Moments

Four months ago, Elm City Express were club eagerly awaiting their NPSL debut. Now, they’re 90 minutes from capturing the league championship, and in front of their home fans at Yale University’s Reese Stadium in New Haven, Ct.

With Saturday’s title match against Midland-Odessa FC on tap (kickoff 8:15pm), Express founder, co-owner, and president Zack Henry reflected on a scene that transpired not all that long ago.

“The Elm City Express project started as an idea that my partners and I discussed over coffee,” Henry said. “We thought ‘Should we do it? Should we start a pro soccer team in the Elm City? If we’re going to do it, we have to do it right.’ So we got to work.”

Henry said he and his partners established relationships in a market he believed was craving pro soccer. Before long, the pieces were coming together, which is crucial for any outfit looking to establish roots in their first year.

“In just a few months we converted that potential energy into kinetic energy, doing things the right way, with great people coming on board,” Henry said. “We saw the community embrace the project because they saw the same potential we did, to bring a pro team to soccer-crazy Connecticut. And in the end, to have the project work, to see the team succeed — well, that’s really something.”

Elm City’s debut season was “really something,” indeed. The team went 9-1-2 (29 points) during the regular season en route to a first-place finish in the Atlantic Blue Conference. But their runaway success didn’t end there.

Needing four wins to reach the league final, the club continued its regular season tear. They outscored their playoff foes 11-1 during the regional playoffs, including an impressive 2-0 victory over CD Aguiluchos USA in last weekend’s semifinal.

To say that Elm City’s impressive showing in 2017 is straight from the script of a Hollywood drama wouldn’t be reach if you ask Henry.

“A lot of folks love to throw around that Field of Dreams phrase ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Henry said. “I think in the case of the Elm City Express, a more fitting way of describing our journey would be ‘If you build it together, they will come together.’ From the players to the staff to the fans to the community, we’re here because we did this together.”

And on Saturday night in New Haven, they’ll get one more chance to come together, with the hopes that the men in blue will raise the championship trophy before the end of the evening.

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