'Not our night' as Tropics fall in United Premier Soccer League national semis, 5-3

by Brian Ackley

LOS ANGELES – Not much went right for the Florida Tropics Friday night in Los Angeles as they fell to New York Contour United, 5-3, in the United Premier Soccer League national semi-finals.

Florida – which was the defending Spring UPSL champions, having won that title in 2019 – gave up a goal in the fourth minute on a mid-field turnover, and never really recovered, trailing 3-0 at intermission. They never got closer than two goals the rest of the way.

“It just was not our night. It seemed like what could go wrong did, and sometimes that just happens,” Head Coach J.P. Reyes said. “We were down early, and battled hard and created some opportunities, but that stretch at the end of the first half and start of the second was just too difficult to overcome. Still, very proud of the boys and their effort not only tonight, but all season. We worked our tails off to the final whistle which is what we are always all about.”

Reyes was referring to the end of the first half, when the Tropics surrendered an own goal in the 41st minute and then saw New York convert a double header goal on a corner kick in the 44th minute.

The Tropics rallied briefly in the 49th minute as Drew Ruggles converted a header on a long direct free kick. But, literally seconds later, an errant clearing effort in the Florida defensive third ended up with the United getting a wide-open goal which they easily converted for a 4-1 advantage.

Melvin Boateng brought the Tropics back a second time, getting a header on a cross in the 52nd minute to make it 4-2.

But any comeback try took a serious ding in the 68th minute when Florida goalkeeper Jorge Navarrete, in going for a 50-50 ball just outside the box, was given a red card for the subsequent collision.

The Tropics were forced to put Ruggles in goal, and play a man down for the remaining time. New York took advantage with a chip from 50 yards out that just eluded a retreating Ruggles for a 5-2 lead very shortly after the red card was issued.

Ruggles, though, was taken down in the New York box in the 83rd minute, and William Eyang converted the penalty kick to once again bring the Tropics within a pair at 5-3, but that’s how things would end.

The Tropics fall to o13-3-2 on the season, and will play in the consolation final Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles against the Boise Cutthroats in a 3 p.m. start. The game will be streamed live by elevensports.com. Boise fell 7-2 to East Valley United FC Pro in the other national semi-final contest.

The UPSL was founded in 2011 and currently includes more than 300 teams nationally. The UPSL is the fastest growing Pro Development League in the USA, with 400-plus teams targeted for 2021/22 Season. Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated, and is responsible for maintaining UPSL minimum standards at all tier levels.

UPSL teams are all eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the leagues affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA).

Additional information regarding the UPSL can be found by following the league on social media via Facebook (www.facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer).

In addition to its outdoor side, the Tropics will start their sixth season in the Major Arena Soccer League late this fall at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, with a 2021-2022 schedule expected to be released in early fall.