On Sunday, the two New York clubs officially began their season, the inaugural Academy League season. Queensboro FC and FA Euro are both founding members of the USL's new developmental league, facing off a handful of times in preseason.
For Queensboro, the preseason consisted of more than just conditioning and training. With the club just months past their open try-outs, QBFC was still making additions to their academy roster.
One of the final steps the club took to expand their academy roster was partnering with Puerto Rican club Bayamón FC. It's been five years since Bayamón became the home of David Villa's first DV7 soccer academy, a project developed by the future QBFC part-owner.
QBFC held an additional try-out in Puerto Rico, adding a few more names to the academy team before the season began. While the reinforcements arrived in the middle of preseason, they were able to provide immediate help, carrying into Sunday's match.
The first name on the scoresheet for QBFC was a product of Bayamón FC, José "Chewi" Lopez. Lopez fired a second-half screamer from distance, which flew over a few defenders and past the keeper.
The sparse crowd at Mitchel Field erupted into cheers as QBFC swarmed the goal-scorer to celebrate the strike.
With a lead finally established, the task was nowhere near complete. Although QBFC was unable to convert on the bulk of their chances, solid defensive effort was needed to ensure the victory and three points.
An impressive showing from Spanish goalkeeper Pol Rodriguez helped do just that. A handful of key saves earned him man-of-the-match honors as he kept a clean sheet for a 1-0 win.
"It was very important for us to win this game because it was the first game for Queensboro," said Rodriguez after the match.
"It's good to have this win, but we'll keep working and focusing on the next match."
Extra effort at the end of the match made the difference for QBFC as they were forced to make a few late adjustments. Late injuries led to a few players being pushed out of position.
"I think winning these types of matches is very important since we had difficulties like last minute injuries," Rodriguez added.
"A few of our players had to play in positions they usually don't but the whole team did a great job working together."
With an early first win and a boost of confidence that comes with it, Queensboro FC seems more than prepared to take on this season. They've proven that despite this being just their first season playing together, they can handle the difficult opposition they'll face the rest of the way.
The academy is a good first test for Josep Gombau, who will take over as the senior team's head coach next year. In his first year in Queens, Gombau is working to establish his playing style and build a foundation for the club, starting with the academy.
With a first win under their belts, the academy has given a first taste of what's in store. Soccer has finally landed in Queens, and the QBFC is already showing the heart and passion they'll take onto the field for years to come.