Boston City FC vs. Hartford City FC has become one of the Northeast Region’s top rivalries and for good reason. First, both clubs have a tradition of success and are always in the running for hardware. Second, both clubs have some of the most talented players in the country (and beyond). Third, both Boston City and Hartford City have passionate supporters’ groups that follow their clubs with absolute dedication.
Hartford City has an impressive overall record of 7-1-0 in 2018. Their preseason consisted of matches against the Oakwood USSDA 19 team, University of Hartford, and Central Connecticut State University as well as a charity match against the Portuguese Club of Hartford.
Nick Balistierri, Hartford City FC Director of Football, hopes to continue their strong run of form this weekend.
“For us it’s the most meaningful match of the season because you’re only as good as your last result. We’ve had early success that shouldn’t be taken for granted. A physical, emotional match. Though the two teams have only played three times, there is always a bit of drama in some capacity. Our approach to a fixture is to never look at the table, but determine the qualities of each team. Boston has plenty of quality that must be respected, we expect to gain a positive result which is our expectation every match.”
Boston City has a 0-3-1 record in the NPSL this season. They are looking at this matchup as a must-win as results have not gone their way this season.
“We have to win,” Boston City FC head coach Palhinha added. “We have started the season poorly, so we need three points to return to the race for the NPSL playoffs. This became a great local rivalry last season over three matches, so that makes it a special match. We have beaten Hartford, drawn with them and lost to them, in the playoffs. Our supporters’ groups have also established a rivalry and some banter, so expect to see the Ironsides Crew and Agents of Hale provide some humorous comments from the sidelines.”
Hartford City is led by the talented trio of Rashawn Dally, Andre Morrison, and Calvin Aroh. Dally, who hails from Quinnipiac University, was called up by the Jamaica National Team for a training camp in March. Morrison, a former University of Hartford standout, was drafted 69th overall by Toronto FC in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. Aroh is a U.S. Youth National Team player that competes collegiately at Tufts University.
“These player contribute to our success as much as any player on the team,” Balistierri continued. “We comprised a roster deep across positions, so its difficult to attribute key players at any positions. We like to keep competition amongst the squad.”
Boston City has a great mix of new and returning talent. Midfielder Santi Cardona, who made his debut just last week, is known for his great touch and vision. The Everett, MA native is a former New England Revolution academy player who starred at Dean College in the fall. Goalkeeper Vitor Scariot, Gabriel De Souza, and Isaac Nana Addai are all returning players with serious credentials.
Scariot was an All-NPSL selection and Ironsides Crew Player of the Year in 2016 and has developed a knack for saving penalties. He played with the junior teams of Bahia, Vitoria, and Gurani in Brazil and spent two weeks with the Atlanta Silverbacks before arriving in Boston. De Souza is the team captain who played Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians juniors in his native Brazil. He is known as a composed central defender who rarely puts a foot wrong. Addai has had a decorated career in the NPSL, winning major awards like the league’s Golden Boot and Golden Ball. He was Boston City’s top scorer last season.
Both Hartford City and Boston City have high hopes for this weekend and beyond.
“Our goal every year is to win the conference championship and contend for a national title,” Balistierri said. “Four out of the five past national champions have come from the Northeast Region. Our conference had last year’s national champion. It’s highly competitive.”
“At this point we aim to make the playoffs,” Palhinha said. “The competition in the conference has been the toughest we have known. The Cosmos and Brooklyn are impressive, Hartford are clearly a tough opponent because they have won all their matches, and other teams that have not been contenders in the past two seasons are now high up in the standings. It is a very competitive conference and some good teams will not make the playoffs.”
And because the NPSL is home to great examples of supporter culture, it should come as no surprise that these two clubs have two incredible supporters’ groups.
“Agents of Hale (AOH) bring what any team would desire from a dedicated supporters’ group, energy to every match,” Balistierri concluded. “They travel with our club no matter where the fixture. If we’re down they know how to bring us up, and when we’re up they bring us higher.”
Palhinha also noted how important his club’s supporters are.
“The Ironsides Crew inspire our players. You only have to see how our players instinctively go to thank them after each match to know how much they are appreciated. Their comments and their banners are usually funny and they are great supporters. Even after our last home match when we suffered a heavy defeat, they were supportive and excited to be back for this match.”
As you can see, this match has everything that you would want in a game. A tradition of excellence, talented players, and dedicated supporters make this National Game of the Week one destined for the record books.
Photo Credit: Chris Aduama
Photo Credit: Alex Serbetzian