WILL IT BE SILVERWARE FOR SENEGAL?
By Ben Tetelman
NYC Senegal begins Copa group play against NYC El Salvador on Saturday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET from Pier 40 in Hudson River Park, Manhattan. Full schedule here.
With a bye into the group stage of this year’s Cosmos Copa, it should come as no surprise that NYC Senegal has a strong past in New York City’s premier community soccer tournament. But what may leave other teams scratching their heads is the legacy that NYC Senegal has left behind.
I had the pleasure of interviewing NYC Senegal president, Sadibou Sylla this week, and in our discussion he mentioned the exceptional history of players that have put on the NYC Senegal jersey.
Among these players were Mamadou Doudou Diouf and Stephane Diop, who were selected in the 2013 and 2014 MLS SuperDrafts.
Mamadou Diof, who is currently on loan with the Charleston Battery of the USL Pro league, was drafted 30th by the Vancouver White Caps of Major League Soccer in 2014.
Diof, who played under Ray Reid at the University of Connecticut, was a standout in college, tallying a total of 36 goals and 10 assists for the Huskies and earning NSCAA Second Team All American his Junior Year.
Diof’s desire to play at the highest level brought him to Cosmos Copa in 2011, where he led NYC Senegal to their first ever finals appearance. Diof was later named to the tournament's best XI.
Another significant player who has represented NYC Senegal in Cosmos Copa is Ibrahim Faye, who played professionally in France’s Ligue 1 and Turkey’s Second Division.
Bringing such talent to the Copa has been somewhat of a double-edged sword for NYC Senegal. Although some of these players have been able to compete, many of them have been forced to miss this renowned tournament due to professional duties.
But the focus this year, according to Sylla, is the youth. NYC Senegal will be playing with their youngest team ever, which could be an Achilles heel for the West African giants.
Sylla is still confident that his team can bring home the championship though, and all eyes will be on Birahim Diop.
Diop, who moved to the United States in 2001 to join the MetroStars, most recently appeared for Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. Sylla says that Diop brings a great amount of experience to the table.
With the amount of youth players on the roster, Diop will provide a nice balance to the team and the younger players will be able to feed off his confidence and abilities.
To learn more about NYC Senegal please visit their team page.