New England Soccer Today

PDL Roundup: Azul and Rams in Newtown, Pioneers unleash in Commonwealth Derby


Cramming in a few last exhibitions before their seasons start, last weekend saw three New England PDL clubs fielding trialists and testing their starting eleven against local teams. In Newtown, CFC Azul battled Connecticut Soccer League’s Prosto SC before the Reál Boston Rams took to the field for their inaugural match versus Newtown Pride, all while the Western Mass Pioneers battled the NPSL’s Mass United FC on the newly-refurbished Lusitano Field.

Azul takes form

Playing the second of three matches on “Soccer Benefit Day” at Newtown High School, CFC Azul took on Berlin Prosto SC, the current CSL front-runners (11-0-1) with former CFC defender Eddie Floyd on their roster.

The first half of play saw Prosto’s defense tested with their ‘keeper making several key saves as Azul quickly configured its attack.

But despite their best efforts, CFC’s (and former Prosto) Thomas Obasi found the back of the net in the 41st minute, capitalizing on both a well-placed through ball and lapse in Berlin’s defense as he beat four defenders to deposit the only goal of the match.

“It’s a preseason game and it looked like a preseason game,” said Azul Head Coach David Kelly. “We’re getting better with each training session and match. It’s just difficult when you have half of your squad then 60% of your squad and then 75%. But I thought we were good for the first 70 minutes.”

Among the preseason squad was New Zealand national team defender Jonny Raj who recently committed with Azul after finishing up with Fairfield University.

“(Raj) was very good,” Kelly described. “Commanding, organizes, wins every battle. Right now, we have a certain plan (of) how we want to play, how we’re going to defend… against other teams but he’ll come up to speed within a couple weeks of training and a couple matches.”

Also logging in an impressive performance was returning midfielder Sony Narro who almost put away a second goal in the first half, constantly making runs to build off of the attacking midfield behind him.

“My hopes for 2013 are that we have a fast, athletic, and entertaining team,” said Kelly in regards to what fans can expect to see. “We’re going to play good football. The pace will be high. And I think we’re going to be very entertaining and people should stop by.”


Boston rams against Pride

After holding off a late attack from Prostos in the second half, CFC left the field with a 1-0 win as the Reál Boston Rams came on for their first ever public match against host Newtown Pride FC.

Playing with committed players and a number of trialists were also former MLS reserves Andrew Sousa (New England Revolution) and Ryan Maduro (New York Red Bulls), both standing out and committing to the Rams soon after the intense 0-0 draw.

Both teams had players dishing out hard tackles while chances to score were sparse despite maneuvering from Rams winger Alexander Markes and a series of good passes from the already committed Luke Finkelstein and Paxton Ballard.

The match could have easily gone in Newtown’s favor early on had it not been for a handful of rapid reactions from Boston goalkeeper Brett Conrad.

“I thought he played well,” said Rams President Michael Madden. “He’s a big, strong kid. Commands a lot of respect in the box when he’s in there. But I also thought Keady (Segal) did equally as well in the second half. He’s very athletic. He has a very calming personality for the guys in the back as well so I thought both of them played very, very well.”

Overall, the Boston Rams’ debut went smoothly as they put on a defense-minded show along with definite sparks in the midfield that were met by the Pride’s own backline

“I thought we played really, really well,” Madden continued. “I think in the defensive third and middle third, we’re pretty strong. I think we possessed the ball very well in this part of the preseason after only playing together for the last four days. Communication was up and having that team chemistry was nice.”

Mostly satisfied with their products on the field and noting where improvements are needed, the Rams and Azul now shift their focus towards May 11th when both teams face one another in Easton, MA.

“The first game of the season is going to be fun,” said Madden. “It’s going to be Easton Town night so we’re going to have a lot of kids from Easton coming out. I think we play an attractive brand of soccer; we attack, we possess the ball well, we’re looking to entertain the people who come out. And we’ll have the Ram mascot.”


Pioneers break in turf with 5-3 win

Meanwhile, up north as the Rams played to a scoreless draw, the Western Mass Pioneers met Mass United FC in Ludlow for a goal-filled outing on Lusitano Stadium’s new turf field.

The Pioneers opened the “Commonwealth Derby” with goals in the 17th and 33rd minutes from Javoni Simms and DJ Pereira respectively before Mass United’s Alencar “Junior” Ventura connected with Ocane Williamson in the 44th.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Pioneers scored again to make it 3-1 in the 58th before United answered back three minutes later with a goal from Ventura.

For another ten minutes, the score settled at 3-2 before Western Mass struck not once, but twice with goals in the 70th and 73rdminutes, attributed to a sharp counter attack according to the Mass United website.

Though Mass United pressed on all the same and was able to grab back another goal with Ventura earning a brace in the 88th, by fulltime Western Mass had broken in the new turf with a 5-3 win.

Next week, the Pioneers will be off to Central Connecticut State University to face CFC Azul for their own home-opener on the 18thbefore coming back to Ludlow to face GPS Portland Phoenix on the 24th.

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