The spoils of FC Yemen's dream season in the Buffalo District Soccer League (BDSL) are still being enjoyed. As a result of capturing the 2015 Tehel Cup trophy -- by beating five premier division sides despite playing in a level below -- Taha Omar's team accepted Western New York Soccer Association's place in the Region 1 Werner Fricker Open Cup.
FC Yemen's first cup match is against Christos FC (Maryland) at 2:30 p.m. April 10 at Nichols School (1250 Amherst St.). It's free to attend. If FC Yemen are to advance past Christos, they'd play the winner of Phoenix SC (Eastern Pennsylvania) vs. Hammers (Maryland-Virginia) on May 15. The Region 1 final would be played June 19.
Phoenix SC is the same club that BSC Raiders, also of the BDSL, will face in the next round of the USASA Amateur Cup, on April 17. (Clubs can enter teams in multiple amateur tournaments).
Eleven players from the squad that won the double (Tehel and championship division) in 2015 grace FC Yemen's Open Cup roster, including Erie Community College standouts Abdulqawi Mohamed and Bassam Harhara, as well as Lackawanna High School All-Western New York selection Ali Shawish, right. One notable absence is Nageeb Ali, a former Steelers striker who scored 18 times in 2015.
A handful of players from around the BDSL have been added to the FC Yemen side, including Sharpshooters defender Drew Braun (Iroquois HS, ECC), BUSS elder statesman Michael Malcolm, Roos FC goalkeeper Greg Slabyk and Yemen Elite midfielder Otmane Boussag. Of the 20-man roster, five played high school soccer last fall.
The team has been spotted training at the University at Buffalo's Kunz Stadium and has scheduled friendlies against other BDSL clubs in preparation for the coming tilt.
The ethnic makeup of the squad is worth breaking down, too, as seven players were born in Yemen, and at least five are second-generation Yemeni. Other countries represented are Morocco, Jamaica, Kenya and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
FC Yemen's 20-man roster:
Email Ben Tsujimoto at email@example.com