Newtown Pride FC, an amateur soccer team from the Connecticut town of the same name, is having an interesting weekend. The team is currently competing in The Soccer Tournament down in Cary, North Carolina for a shot at a $1 million prize. After winning their group, which included eight-time Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund and a squad made up of Indiana Hoosiers, the Pride advanced to the semifinals and are now one win away from competing for the championship.
How TST works
The Soccer Tournament, better known as TST, is a 7-vs-7 soccer tournament with 32 teams taking. It’s an offshoot of The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a similarly adrenalized single-elimination tournament that started in 2014. TST matches are played on a reduced-size field with smaller goals than normal, and consist of 20-minute halves.
After regulation time is finished, the game enters “Target Score Time”, with the target score being the leading (or tied) team’s score plus one. To make things even more exciting, both teams lose a player every five minutes of Target Score Time. Exhausted players desperately trying to score make for a format that’s fun to watch.
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Four-vs-four chaos, Newton advances
Newtown’s latest win came earlier this afternoon against 13-time Israeli Premier League champion Hapoel Tel Aviv FC. Newtown’s Tavoy Morgan put his team ahead in the 18th minute with a slick left-foot shot to the right post past keeper Ido Sharon. Kelvin Nunes made it 2-0 in the 31st after a foul in the box set him up for a successful penalty kick.
With the Target Score set to 3, Tel Aviv grabbed a goal when Tal Archel converted a penalty kick of his own with each team playing 6-vs-6. The game achieved chaos as both played with just four men each, including keepers, but James Thomas-Cruz called game. His initial shot from beyond the box was saved by Sharon. Thomas jumped on the rebound and struck a bullet left footed shot to give Newtown the win, 3-1.
Next up: Sneaky Fox FC
It should be noted that teams taking part in TST vary wildly in terms of rosters. The Dortmund team that Newtown beat 8-0 was no Bundesliga squad. Veterans like Dede, Kevin Großkreutz and Felipe Santana were joined by a mix of college players and BVB staffers. Likewise, Hapoel’s squad was mostly youth players with only two over the age of 20.
The Pride’s roster isn’t like that. A high-caliber class of amateur soccer talent, including plenty of Major Arena Soccer League players who are at home playing TST rules. Thomas not only played in the MASL with the Baltimore Blast, but also in the USL Championship with the Harrisburg City Islanders and New York Red Bulls II.
His resume also includes a second-half substitute appearance for RBNY against Chelsea F.C. at Red Bull Arena in 2015.
Newtown’s climb toward the title continues tonight in the semifinals at 7:30 pm ET. They’ll face Sneaky Fox FC, named after Chicago Fire FC legend Mike Magee’s vodka brand, after that side beat Conrad & Beasley United, which is led by USMNT legends Jimmy Conrad & DaMarcus Beasley. The game, like most of the tournament, will be broadcast on Peacock. Tomorrow’s championship match will be on CNBC at 3 pm ET, with an encore presentation on NBC on June 10.
Win or lose, Newtown Pride has another huge game later this month on June 17. They play Sure Sports FC (Maryland) in the USASA Region I Amateur Cup final with $4,000 in prize money and the chance to compete for a 2024 US Open Cup spot on the line.