When New Amsterdam FC was admitted as an expansion team for the 2020 National Independent Soccer League season, it certainly did not realize it was going to go on an amazing rollercoaster ride during its inaugural season.
Original plans had the team calling Fordham University home. But that was thrown out the window because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then again, the pandemic turned everything upside down.
Owned by Laurence Girard, the CEO and co-founder of Fruit Street, a New York medtech company, New Amsterdam played its first campaign at three venues – Warwick, N.Y., Leesburg, Va. and Hamtramck, Mich. due to league protocols.
Using a young squad, the squad certainly had its moments, although there were plenty of growing pains on the pitch.
New Amsterdam got off to an encouraging start battling its rival, the Cosmos, to a 1-1 draw in the NISA Independent Cup Mid-Atlantic Division opener at the Hudson Sports Complex in Warwick, Aug. 20.
What made the result even sweeter was that Michael Bello scored 16 seconds into stoppage time to lift New Amsterdam to a dramatic 1-1 tie in the team’s first competitive match.
Just as the game entered injury time, the equalizing goal’s sequence started with a long punt by goalkeeper and team owner Girard, who came on at halftime. The ball ricocheted off a Cosmos to a New Amsterdam player who fed Bello with a long pass. Bello split a pair of defenders before beating goalkeeper Jesse Corke.
Bello then ripped off his shirt in celebration. It was not immediately known if he was yellow carded but considering the situation and that it was New Amsterdam’s first goal ever, it certainly would have been worth it.
Former U.S. international Eric Wynalda, who was hired as New Amsterdam head coach just before the contest, did not attend the match. Instead, he watched the game from his hotel room because he had strep throat. As a precaution, Wynalda took a COVID-19 test and it came back negative. He eventually parted ways with the club due to personal reasons.
New Amsterdam finished fourth (0-2-1, 1 point) in a group that included champion Maryland Bobcats FC, which joined the league for 2021 several weeks later, FC Baltimore Christos and Cosmos. It was outscored, 11-2.
The team struggled at the NISA Fall Tournament, dropping a 3-0 result to the Oakland Roots, tying the Michigan Stars, 2-2, losing to eventual champion Detroit City FC, 4-2, in the group stage.
With 2021 only several days away, New Amsterdam is hopeful of having a “normal” regular season and playing its home games in New York City.
Wednesday: Local story No. 8