[USDN] Texas FC Lift the Champions Cup!
US Divisions Network
at 2023-11-17 15:10
(2 weeks ago)
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Last round, Texas FC beat FC Versailles 78 on penalties to win the Champions Cup. In doing so, they wrote themselves into the history books, marking their first Champions Cup crown in the over fifteen seasons of the club’s history. The result went far beyond just them, though. It represents not only the first US team to lift the trophy, but also the first time a club based outside of Europe has ever won the game’s most prestigious prize.
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US Divisions Network
at 2023-11-17 15:10
(2 weeks ago)
It was by no means a smooth ride for Texas. Portuguese giants Sporting Canaries and Flusao were drawn in the group stage, French record-title-holders Bits ’n Pieces FC in the round of 16, back to back reigning champions Classic Orient in the quarterfinals, and Dutch titans The Challengers in the semifinals. The final against last season’s French cups experts, meanwhile, finished scoreless after 90 minutes. Then there were no goals in extra time. This meant penalties. The teams had been so even in rating and performance across the match that it would be incredibly difficult to separate one team from the other. Versailles even went up 2-1 after Sebastian Danauskas and Sayed Hasni both missed their penalties. It was recently signed goalkeeper Jorit Augustijn, though, that turned things around for the Texans.
We wanted to get the scoop on what the manager was thinking following the historic victory, and set up an exclusive interview:
First off, how does it feel to be winners of the Champions Cup? You really are kings of the cup this season; did you feel anything different about this season coming in, what were your expectations?
"It feels surreal. It’s going to take a bit to sink in. Coming into the season on the back of two league titles, I was optimistic about our chances in all competitions this season. But the Champions Cup has been cruel to us in the past, so it was just one game at a time."
Talk us through the game, and what it took to get here. When if ever did you have the moment to say, “hold on, we might win this thing?” Or was it there all along? And obviously, you have said on many an occasion that in the Champions Cup, you never got past the group stage. What does it say about the team that the first time you made it out, you seemed to never look back?
"To be honest, there were stretches of the final that we just weren’t at the races. Some individual performances were lacking: missing tackles, getting dribbled past, errant passes. It was a frustrating watch at times. Thankfully the guys kept working and our keeper made some amazing saves to keep us in it.. and that was before the penalties! But looking back on the whole journey, there was never really time to sit back and think about winning it. We faced a tough draw: Classic Orient, The Challengers, FC Versailles. You can’t say we didn’t earn it. I think once we made it out of the group stage, it felt like we were playing with house money and the guys were able to relax and enjoy their football."
Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room, you came up just short in the league, but just two more points would’ve earned you the quadruple. What lessons can you take from that shortcoming? Can you say that it inspired you in the other competitions you were in?
"I actually think our success in the cups made it an easier pill to swallow missing out on the title by such a small margin. But cheers to First Boxers, they deserved it. We had one lapse in concentration in the run up to the end of the season, and you just can’t do that. It cost us and we’ll learn to keep the intensity up at all times."
How do you top this? What is next for Texas FC? Do you think you will have the components next season to compete for and win all the same silverware again?
"I don’t think you top winning the Champions Cup. Now it’s about finding the performances to be consistently challenging for this trophy. The entire squad will be back next season, so I would say we’re capable of repeating. But I’m under no illusions that it will be easy or a given. I don’t think we’ll even be among the favorites in this competition next season. But that’s okay, because we play the underdog role well."
Finally, we have to point out that this victory makes Texas FC the first club in over thirty seasons of the competition to be from the US, and from outside of Europe at all. Two season ago, we interviewed Hanes Fruit, manager of First Boxers, after they won the Super Cup. They were also the first club from the US and outside Europe to win this competition. Is US football really on the rise, and do you think we will see more parity in terms of the top-level competitors in these continental competitions?
"It’s an honor to be the first club from the expansion countries to win this trophy. I think as the seasons pass, we’ll see the level of play even out between the European countries and the expansion countries. There is a lot of talent and good managers out here. But you can’t argue with results, so I’d have to say that football in the US is here to stay and will only get better with the teams in our division consistently improving. Up the Texans!"
Congrats again to Texas for this impressive achievement, and best of luck to all the clubs competing in continental competitions next season!