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La Bombonera shut out Nani FC, win $1 million

A Delaware club made up of arena, futsal, and beach soccer players blanked Nani FC in the second edition of The Soccer Tournament.

La Bombonera celebrates winning the 2024 edition of The Soccer Tournament | Courtesy TST

Forty-eight men's teams entered The Soccer Tournament last Wednesday with the dream of being one million dollars richer. In the end, La Bombonera of New Castle, Delaware beat Nani FC, 4-0, on Monday night to once again prove the way to win this competition was by bringing in the right players.

Bombonera, named after an Indoor Soccer Sports Complex from the nation’s first state, was stacked to the brim with top-tier Mexican players from leagues that don’t play on FIFA-regulated fields. Many of them had won silverware in the Major Arena Soccer League. Others had represented their home countries on various types of national teams, such as beach soccer. But in terms of exposure, this might be one of the biggest wins they’ve ever had.

Both Bombonera and Nani FC, named after the four-time Premier League Champion Luis Nani, had success this year in TST. Neither had lost a game coming into the final, with identical 7-0 records through both the group stage and knockouts. One of those streaks was going to end in front of a capacity crowd at WakeMed Soccer Park. (Well, half of it,due to the field setup.) 

Right from the opening whistle, it was obvious which it was going to be.

Within just 10 seconds, Bombonera showed exactly why they were here. Nani FC’s goalkeeper Goncalo Ferreira inadvertently sent a ball to Bombonera’s Irvin Mojica on the right side, who shot right back at the keeper. Ferreira made the save but the rebound fell to Joaquin Hernandez outside of the box. His shot got past a lone defender to put the Delaware side ahead.

Nani FC never really recovered. This was a team with a lot of familiar faces: Defenders Tiago Gomes and Sílvio played in top-level leagues across America and Europe, with each also having some form of national team experience. The side even had players with backgrounds more suited to TST, such as Adriano Dos Santos, whose career includes caps with both the United States Men's National Beach Soccer Team and Futsal Soccer Team.

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However, Nani FC managed just nine shots, and only three of those were on target against keeper Jeancob Ramirez, who earned his second clean sheet of the tournament.

The second half started much like the first with a fast La Bombonera chance. Eddie Sanchez barely kept the ball inbounds along the sideline before sending a long ball to Jose Lopez on the left side. His low shot from the left corner of the box skittered over the turf, past a diving Ferreira, and into the net.

Lopez is one of the many players on Bombonera representing the two-time defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Chihuahua Savage. A testament to the pedigree and talent pool that general manager Benjamin Mestre had accumulated, alongside high-grade Mexican futsal and beach soccer talent.

Miguel Giorgana, who played on the Mexico national futsal team, made it 3-0 when he stepped around a diving Ferreira in the 29th minute. The excellent footwork of the goal itself was overshadowed since the play was being double-boxed alongside a live interview with TST co-owner Chris Paul of NBA fame.

Even before Target Score Time started the outcome looked obvious. Nani himself struck off the post in the second minute of target time off a free kick. In the ninth minute, down to 5-v-5, a long pass saw keeper Ferreira looking for Nani. Instead, defender Chad Poarch stripped the ball away and ran down the left side. With his teammate Miguel Giorgana coming towards the ball, Poarch told him to back off, before slotting in the million-dollar goal himself.

Poarch, a native of Delaware, played 11-v-11 soccer in the US, including a handful of caps with the Charlotte Independence. He’s also the man who deliberately called out Nani after his team won in the semifinals yesterday afternoon.

In 2023, the final between Newtown Pride FC and SLC FC boiled down to a USA indoor all-star team versus top-tier Canadian futsal talent. This year, the match to determine which nation is the greatest on earth at 7-v-7 was between experienced Mexican veterans and well-known Portuguese players.

While this year’s final was not as exciting as Newtown Pride’s win in the inaugural 2023 tournament, it solidified one fact: The right team won. 

That’s why Hudson River Blue labeled them as contenders at the start of this tournament, and said they had the makeup of a team that could earn the $1 million prize.

For all the glitz and glamor that made its way to Cary, North Carolina over the last week, TST has shown once again that the team built from the ground up for it will win it.

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