U.S. Soccer
0

2016 Mondial Football de Montaigu

Montaigu, France
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US Soccer

Minnesota Nice & the Miracle of Duluth FC

“I didn’t have time to linger,” Tom Greensall said about his college graduation. It’s usually a day for reflection and celebration – a time to look back on achievements and ahead to challenges. “The ceremony was Saturday. I had my first game for Duluth FC on Sunday. And there was a seven-hour drive in between. It was a little hectic!” 

Greensall was born and raised on the outskirts of Birmingham, England. Over there, you can drive the whole of the country, from Marshall Meadows Bay in the north to the southern tip at Lizard Point, in approximately the time it took him to get from his Iowa alma mater of St Ambrose College to northern Minnesota, where he had a No. 1 jersey waiting for him. He had two months to kill before he could legally work in the States, so he took up an invitation to join amateur outfit Duluth FC. They were a team in need of a goalkeeper. “I thought to myself, ‘what better way to spend two months than playing football,’” he said. “It was an easy decision to sign.”


(Duluth FC goalkeeper Tom Greensall at full stretch in 2017)

He didn’t have a place to stay. But he didn’t let that slow him down. “I made no arrangements and I figured I’d crash with one of the players,” Greensall laughed, looking back on his first, unsteady steps into a new life. Lucky for him, Duluth, Minnesota might just be the best city in the country to show up without lodgings, or a means to make a living. Duluthians are ready to help out. There are a lot of helping hands there.

“Duluth is a little bit special,” Father Tim Sas, the club’s founder, former player and original coach told ussoccer.com. A Greek Orthodox priest, he was born in Romania and grew up in Canada before settling in Minnesota. He founded Duluth FC in 2015 as an outlet for he and his aging friends – an excuse to go out for a leisurely beer after games. “I’m a priest, so I always see the good in people and in places. But here in Duluth, right now, there’s a vibrancy that’s infectious. There’s a surge of light and life.”

From a ‘Joke’ to a Force
The vibe in Duluth is so infectious that it didn’t take long for the club Father Tim started “as a joke” to take root. It spread through fertile ground and grew into a local phenomenon. “It grew so fast,” said Sas, still shocked at what’s become of something begun so humbly. “Half of our team, including myself, were injured and out after about two weeks. When we started we had 15 guys on our roster that were over the age of 35, and we were playing in the Open Division of the local men’s league. This is very stupid!”

Father Tim realized he needed to change gears. He needed a balance between old guys and younger ones. “I called a meeting with local coaches and soccer people,” Sas said. “And they all started saying, ‘Hey, I think there’s potential here. Potential for more’.”


(He may not be the biggest, but Duluth's No1 is fierce)

“Duluth is just a really, really big, small town,” said Shannon Cornelius, a local businesswoman who had no interest in soccer before she met Tom Greensall. “A friend of mine had kids in youth soccer and she told me about this guy, Tom, her daughter’s coach. She said he was really cool and she also knew that sometimes I hired interns. He was interested in marketing and business.”

Cornelius met with Greensall, a double major in business management and marketing in his Iowa days, where he remembers ordering a cup of tea after a dinner out and getting an iced tea from the waiter. “I knew I wasn’t in England anymore after that,” he said. “He wore his sport coat to our first meeting in a local coffee shop and it was just the cutest thing,” Cornelius remembered. “It showed that it really mattered to him and he was a guy who took things seriously.”

An Open Door in Duluth
It didn’t take her long to come up with an idea. She offered Greensall room and board – a spare bedroom in her basement – and an unpaid internship with the business marketing company she runs out of her house. “He was staying in this terrible little dorm room with four other players,” said Cornelius, quick to laugh, her Minnesota accent thick. “I just thought: ick. There was no place to cook and he seemed like a stable kid, so…”


(Greensall arrived in Duluth with no place to stay in the summer of 2015)

Soon Tom, an only child, was learning the ropes in business and living with Shannon and her five kids. “Sometimes it can seem like chaos around here,” chuckled Cornelius, a former NCAA D1 Softball player with an admitted soft spot for young athletes. “Shannon and her family made it so easy for me,” Tom said. “There’s a thing called ‘Minnesota Nice’ and it’s definitely not just a stereotype. I gave rides to the kids and did whatever she needed me to do to help out.”

It all sounds so natural when Cornelius talks about taking a stranger into her home, mentoring him in business and eventually setting him up in a full-time job with one of her clients. “It was hard to let him go,” she said. “But maybe I’ll be able to get him back some day.”

Duluth’s Goodwill Network
The kind of spirit that opened those doors for Greensall, and got Cornelius an able intern, is the same kind that turned Duluth FC from a “joke” to a serious NPSL team on the cusp of the U.S. Open Cup in the space of just three years. “Everyone is very networked here,” Cornelius said. “The heart of our community is helping people out and people here take that very seriously. If I can’t help you out, well I probably know someone who can. It’s that kind of thing and it’s very powerful here.”

Fast forward three years from its birth and Duluth FC is one of the top teams in the Midwest Region of the National Premier Soccer League. They’re on the verge of taking part in the First Round of their first Open Cup. “Without even trying, we had local sponsors looking to help out, Father Tim said. “Local businesspeople were writing checks. People wanted to volunteer.”


(Father Tim Sas & Greensall share a moment of celebration from an impressive 2017 season)

Duluth FC currently has a front office of 22 staffers, all volunteers. Eight of them work year-round and the rest come on board during the months when the team’s in-season. Games are broadcast on the three area TV stations. “In a Hockey City in a Hockey State, we’ve made soccer relevant,” exclaimed Father Tim, a missionary for the game he loves. “We now have players from all over the world – from Liberia and Ghana, from Israel and Italy. From so many places, I lose track!”

“I could not have foreseen what was going to happen,” said Father Tim, proud and humble all at once. “I was just sipping tea one day with friends and telling them ‘I feel fat and old and rusty and maybe we should start a soccer team.’”

Father Tim’s Team; Father Tim’s Rules
The Duluthian network of helping hands seems to know no bounds. As the club he founded on a lark began to grow, Father Tim wondered how he could make it work for the community beyond the lines of the soccer field and the concession stands. “I may be a crazy priest who started a soccer club, but I’m a priest after all,” he said. “So we set some rules at the start: No swearing. No fighting. Don’t go after the refs. Don’t go out and get drunk when you get together for a beer after the game.”

This is a tall order for any amateur soccer team. And Father Tim’s not naïve. “Eastern Europeans swear…I know, I’m one of them,” he said, laughing. “Brits are some of the worst! I’m not saying we’ve been perfect here, but we’ve been good and we’re trying.” Greensall, as affable and soft-spoken a Brit as you’re likely ever to find, laughs a little: “We have a lot of Europeans in this team and it’s in their nature to get a little hot, maybe talk back to the refs. When we do, the other team’s fans really let us have it!”


(Greensall & the gang have become an NPSL force in the North Country)

There’s a fun spirit in this club. It’s not evangelism masquerading as sport. This is a community trying to help where it can and get stronger in the process. Father Tim, a jovial fellow, goes serious about one thing Duluth FC does. “We tithe after every game,” he said, slowing down and taking his foot off the gas. “We don’t talk about it a lot, but it’s something we do. We give to a different local charity after every game we play here.”

Father Tim’s players are required to volunteer in the community. It’s how Greensall came to youth coaching, and how a friend came to put him in touch with Cornelius, and how he found a home and a job in a place called Duluth where he’s happy and still living out his soccer dreams. “We don’t do it for accolades,” said Father Tim. “We don’t even talk much about it, but I want this club to be a part of the community. To be alive in it.”

Three Years to the Open Cup
Duluth FC begins its second NPSL season this year. It’s an unimaginable climb considering its roots. Their first game is at home against Fargo-based Dakota Fusion - it's the club’s first match in the Open Cup – a 104-year-old tournament that puts every level of American soccer in direct competition: the amateurs all the way up to Major League Soccer’s stars. “This is such a big deal for us,” said Greensall. “I can’t believe it’s happening. Three years ago we were losing to the reserves of the worst team around and now we’re a game away from meeting Saint Louis FC, a professional team, in the Open Cup!”


(Greensall can hardly believe his team are one Open Cup win away from playing a pro team)

The spirit of take-only-what-you-need-and-give-a-little-back is fully in place in Duluth. The city, and its suddenly beloved three-year-old soccer team, are ready for a tilt at the big-time. Greensall, out of his boss’ basement and on his own, is up for it. Cornelius, who three years ago had no connection to soccer at all, plans to take in two Duluth players as boarders this year – one from Liberia and another from Italy.

And Father Tim, pulling all the strings, is ready to walk away and watch what he planted blossom in the rough soil of the North Country. “I’m a priest and I have four kids,” he said. “I can’t be involved in this forever, but what we’ve started can grow and grow.”

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Schedule

Results

Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
3-2 W Montaigu, France Weah, Acosta (2)
4-0 W Bretignolles-Sur-Mer, France Acosta (2), Akinola (2)
2-2 D Poire-Sur-Vie, France Acosta(2)
1-1 D Poire-Sur-Vie, France Akinola

44th International Tournament of Montaigu

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE HOMETOWN CLUB/COLLEGE CAPS/G
M 5-7 131 Miami, Fla. North Carolina FC
F 5-9 182 Brampton, Ontario Toronto FC
M 5-11 Glendora, California Los Angeles Futbol Academy
GK 6-1 180 Arlington Heights, Ill. Sockers FC
F 5-8 145 Powder Springs, Ga. Atlanta United FC
F 5-8 145 Powder Springs, Ga. Atlanta United FC
D San Marcos, Calif. Chivas USA
D 5-11 170 Glen Allen, Va. D.C. United
M 5-8 171 Southlake, Texas Solar Chelsea SC
M 5-6 San Jose, California San Jose Earthquakes
GK 6-1 162 Miami, Fla. Atlanta United FC
F 5-11 160 Miami, Fla. Weston FC
M 5-8 154 Locus Grove, Ga. Atlanta United FC
F 5-3 Pleasonton, California Ballistic United SC
D 5-10 143 Palm Beach, Fla. Philadelphia Union
D 5-11 162 Rye, N.Y. New York City FC
F 5-11 174 O'Fallen, Mo. SV Werder Bremen (Germany) 0/0
D 6-1 164 Greenwich, Conn. New York City FC
M Mira Loma, Calif. FC Golden State
M 5-2 115 Hood River, Ore. Portland Timbers
M 6-0 145 Rosedale, N.Y. Paris Saint-Germain (France) 1/0

44th International Tournament of Montaigu

George Acosta

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-7

Weight:
131

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Miami, Fla.

Club:
North Carolina FC

Ayo Akinola

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-9

Weight:
182

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Brampton, Ontario

Club:
Toronto FC

Jake Arteaga

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-11

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Glendora, California

Club:
Los Angeles Futbol Academy

Alexander Budnik

Position:
Goalkeeper

Height:
6-1

Weight:
180

Birthdate:

Position:
Goalkeeper

Hometown:
Arlington Heights, Ill.

Club:
Sockers FC

Andrew Carleton

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-8

Weight:
145

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Powder Springs, Ga.

Club:
Atlanta United FC

Andrew Carleton

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-8

Weight:
145

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Powder Springs, Ga.

Club:
Atlanta United FC

Kelee Cornfield-Saunders

Position:
Defender

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
San Marcos, Calif.

Club:
Chivas USA

Christopher Durkin

Position:
Defender

Height:
5-11

Weight:
170

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Glen Allen, Va.

Club:
D.C. United

Blaine Ferri

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-8

Weight:
171

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Southlake, Texas

Club:
Solar Chelsea SC

Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-6

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
San Jose, California

Club:
San Jose Earthquakes

Justin Garces

Position:
Goalkeeper

Height:
6-1

Weight:
162

Birthdate:

Position:
Goalkeeper

Hometown:
Miami, Fla.

Club:
Atlanta United FC

Nicolas Morillo Garcia

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-11

Weight:
160

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Miami, Fla.

Club:
Weston FC

Christopher Goslin

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-8

Weight:
154

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Locus Grove, Ga.

Club:
Atlanta United FC

Niccolo Lemoine

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-3

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Pleasonton, California

Club:
Ballistic United SC

Rayshaun McGann

Position:
Defender

Height:
5-10

Weight:
143

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Palm Beach, Fla.

Club:
Philadelphia Union

James Sands

Position:
Defender

Height:
5-11

Weight:
162

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Rye, N.Y.

Club:
New York City FC

Josh Sargent

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-11

Weight:
174

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
O'Fallen, Mo.

Club:
SV Werder Bremen (Germany)

Tyler Shaver

Position:
Defender

Height:
6-1

Weight:
164

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Greenwich, Conn.

Club:
New York City FC

Arturo Vasquez

Position:
Midfielder

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Mira Loma, Calif.

Club:
FC Golden State

Adrian Villegas

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-2

Weight:
115

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Hood River, Ore.

Club:
Portland Timbers

Tim Weah

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
6-0

Weight:
145

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Rosedale, N.Y.

Club:
Paris Saint-Germain (France)

Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
USA 3 2 0 2 7 3 4 5
Brazil  3 1 0 2 7 5 2 5
England 3 1 1 1 4 5 -1 4
Russia
3 0
2 1
3 8
-5
1

USA Schedule

Date Match Time (ET)/Result Venue
March 22 USA vs. Brazil
1-1 T Poire-Sur-Vie, France
March 24
USA vs. England
2-2 T
Poire-Sur-Vie, France
March 26
USA vs. Russia
4-0 W
Bretignolles-Sur-Mer, France
March 28
USA vs. France
3-2 W
Montaigu, France

U-17 Men's National Team Stats - 2016 Mondial Football de Montaigu

Record: 2-0-2  

Player

Pos

GP

GS

Min.

G

A

Pts

Y/R

Acosta, George
M
3 3 235 6
0
12
0/0
Akinola, Ayo
F
3 2 170 3 1 7 1/0
Arteaga, Jake
M
2 2 160 0 0 0 1/0
Budnik, Alex
GK
1 1 80 0 0 0 0/0
Carleton, Andrew
F
3 2 220 0 0 0 0/0
Cornfield-Saunders, Kelee
D
3 1 118 0 0 0 0/0
Durkin, Chris
M
3 3 240 0 0 0 1/0
Ferri, Blaine
M
4 4 259 0 2 2 0/0
Foe Nuphaus, J.J. D 4 3 250 0 0 0 2/0
Garces, Justin
GK
3 3 240 0 0 0 0/0
Garcia, Nicolas
F
1 0 12 0 0 0 0/0
Goslin, Christopher
M
4 3 204 0 1 1 1/0
Lemoine, Niccolo
F 3 1 34 0 0 0 1/0

McGann, Rayshaun

D
4 3 229 0 0 0 0/0
Sands, James
M
4 2 164 0 0 0 1/0
Sargent, Josh
F
4 2 280 1 1 0/0 
Shaver, Tyler
D
3 3 240 0
1 1
0/0
Vasquez, Arturo
M
3 1 117 0 0 0 1/0

Villegas, Adrian

M 1 1 40 0 0 0 0/0
Weah, Tim F 3 3 184 1 1 3 0/0

Own Goal





0


Totals


4 4 320 10 7 27 9/0

Opponent Totals


4 4 320 5 5 15 4/0

2016 Mondial Football de Montaigu Goalkeeping Statistics

Player Name

GP

GS

Min.

GF

GA

SO

GAA

W-L-T

Budnik, Alex 1 1 80 1 1 0 1.00 0-0-1
Garces, Justin 3 3 240 9 4 1 1.33 2-0-1

Totals

4 4 320 10 5 1 1.25 2-0-2

Opponent Totals

4
4
320
5
10
0
2.50 0-2-2

Updated through March 31, 2016

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