Out of 96 teams in the National Premier Soccer League, New Haven’s Elm City Express is the last one standing. The Express beat Midland-Odessa of Texas 5-0 Saturday night at Yale’s Reese Stadium to become national champion in its inaugural season.
“We’re the national champions in our first season,” owner Zack Henry said during the post-game celebration. “We bested the rest of the league. So, how else can you interpret it? This is as serious as it gets.”
Considering that it’s been roughly two and a half years since Henry first conceived the idea of putting this kind of soccer team together, he said it’s remarkable that the team succeeded so soon.
“We started to build momentum,” Henry said, “and as we built momentum through the season, we gained additional confidence. And we started to believe that this was going to happen. But two years ago — I’d say no.”
Fan Edward Foley said that whether you attend Express games or go to the New Haven sports bar Anna Liffey’s on Sundays to watch Arsenal or Liverpool, the victory validates the city and its people.
"Excellent, excellent opportunity for New Haven to express itself as a city," Foley said. "We have a lot of very young, very passionate people. We’re a big soccer town."
Forward Tavoy Morgan was the man of the match and was pleasantly surprised with the season high turnout of over 3,000 fans.
“No, I never expected that.” Morgan said, “But it was great. It was amazing to see these great fans and I want everybody to keep supporting Connecticut soccer and the community.”
The Jamaican, a graduate of Bassick High in Bridgeport, scored two goals in the match. Plans for a public victory celebration will be announced at a later date.