June 26th, 2020 - Germantown, MD - Maryland Bobcats FC are happy to announce that we will be hosting the inaugural NISA (National Independent Soccer Association) Independent Cup for the Mid-Atlantic Region at the SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland. The Independent Cup will be the first of its kind, bringing together teams from across the country (situated in regional pods) to play against one another, regardless of league.
Our region (the Mid-Atlantic Region) includes Maryland Bobcats FC, the New York Cosmos, New Amsterdam FC, and FC Baltimore. The games will all be held at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex and play will start Tuesday, July 28th, continue on Friday, July 31st, and conclude on Sunday, August 2nd. The Independent Cup will be a round-robin tournament with every team playing every other team once and the champion being crowned off of total number of points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 points for a loss).
The club is proud to bring clubs like these together in the name of soccer, and look forward to building ongoing relationships with the clubs going forward. Club President Jay Saba is happy the Cup could be pulled off, saying "it is a blessing to be sharing the field with these amazing organizations. We thank the leadership team at NISA for including us and our guys will be ready for the tournament".
With the Independent Cup about a month away, preparations on the field have already begun. Practices have started back up again and the players are eager to get back on the field. Head Coach Phil Nana said the club is up for the challenge, and that it is an honor to be invited to play in such a great tournament against some great clubs. He's looking forward to the chance to show off the squad, but isn't letting the moment get away from him: "I remember growing up and idolizing teams like the Cosmos. Being able to compete with teams like the ones included in the Independent Cup is exciting, and we are very honored".
The Independent Cup marks the return of soccer for the four clubs included in this grouping, giving them their first game action since before the pandemic. While everyone is happy to have their teams play again, NISA has made sure that there are strict return-to-play guidelines to ensure that players and staff stay healthy during the tournament.
A lot went on behind the scenes to make the Independent Cup happen and the club was happy to be able to help by hosting and bringing these great clubs to Maryland. Club General Manager Evan Raimist worked with NISA and the other clubs to make sure that the details were buttoned up and that we could safely return to soccer. "The safety of the players and staff is of course most important, so making sure we could play this tournament safely was the priority," said Raimist. "After we had a plan to go forward, it was really exciting seeing the love of soccer that the folks at NISA and the other clubs have. It was refreshing to see a group of people come together to put something together, even without fans, because they love the game and want to showcase their players. We can't thank NISA enough for approaching us about the Independent Cup and we can't wait to see our guys on the field again".
Being invited to the Independent Cup was the next step for the club and their quest to bring professional soccer to Maryland. After winning the Fall 2019 UPSL National Championship and topping off an undefeated season, the club wanted to bring as much high-profile soccer to the area as possible to continue to show the quality of players that can be found right in our backyard. As Assistant Technical Director Junior Banjo put it, "This is a huge step for our club, having coming from being a Sunday league team with a vision to now rubbing shoulders with clubs like the New York Cosmos. I'm looking forward to getting to host these great clubs".
The evolution didn't happen overnight, but the plan and vision has been in place all along. The Independent Cup is a testament to all of those involved with the club from the players to coaching staff, front office to ownership. There is a lot of hard work ahead, but being able to compete in a tournament like this shows the club is on the right track.
The Independent Cup will be streamed live, so fans across the country and world can tune in and watch these first-of-their-kind games from the comfort of their own homes. With six games in 6 days, there will be plenty of soccer for fans, both old and new, to tune in to.
To keep up to date on all things Maryland Bobcats FC, make sure to follow us on Twitter at @MDBobcatsFC, on Instagram at @mdbobcatsfc, and on Facebook at "Maryland Bobcats FC". Schedules and updates will also be posted on our website, www.marylandbobcatsfc.com.
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