A guest post by Art Eftekhari
Justice Duerksen was a member of Orange County Football Club in its inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League in 2017 and recently we caught up with the talented midfielder about his current spell in the Oberliga in Germany with SV Merseburg 99.
Art Eftekhari: How does it feel to be living in Germany?
Justice Duerksen: Living in Germany is awesome. It's amazing to see and feel the history both on and off the soccer field. I'm living right in the middle of downtown in the city of Halle, which is super cool.
Art Eftekhari: What are you enjoying most right now about Germany?
Justice Duerksen: It has been super rad to just meet new people and see a new culture. I've met some really cool people on my team and also doing a lot of exploring on the weekends. Munich was awesome, and going to Berlin and seeing the Berlin Wall that divided a country was incredible.
Art Eftekhari: You had a great season with OCFC in the NPSL, what did you learn from head coach Paul Caligiuri?
Justice Duerksen: Coach Paul gave me a lot of great personal advice as a player. Being the legendary player that he is, he was able to help my personal game so much, teaching me many little skills to improve on. But the biggest thing that I gained from Paul is the confidence he instilled in me. He is a great motivator and a very positive leader. Paul definitely has an attitude of believing and achieving, and that stuck with me.
Art Eftekhari: From what I understand, there were some difficulties with acquiring a work permit. Do you expect to play after the winter break?
Justice Duerksen: I actually just got my work permit, so I am eligible to play come January! I am very excited!
Art Eftekhari: What is the goal for SV Merseburg 99?
Justice Duerksen: The goal for Merseburg was to try to move up to the fourth division but with a not so great first couple of months of the season, it looks like Merseburg will be hoping for a middle of the table finish.
Art Eftekhari: What do you think of the competition in the fifth tier of German football?
Justice Duerksen: I would say it is pretty similar to the NPSL, but a different style.
Art Eftekhari: What was your favorite moment last season with OCFC?
Justice Duerksen: My favorite moment was definitely the play-off game in the heat of Arizona. I remember they had a really good crowd, and it was so hot that our jerseys were soaked during warm-ups. It was a fun road trip to the game as well and it was great getting to know the players, coaches, and owner Nader Dejbakhsh. It was super fun to win there and the celebration after was awesome!
Art Eftekhari: How did playing in the NPSL help your skills and development?
Justice Duerksen: It gave me more games to improve my skills and showcase my abilities. Playing constant games is very important as a player, and the United States soccer system has many off-seasons. So I am very thankful that Nader Dejbakhsh and the NPSL gave me an opportunity to play and stay sharp.
Art Eftekhari: I really appreciate your time Justice. Best of luck to you and when you score your first goal in Germany can we expect to see a shout out celebration to OCFC?
Justice Duerksen: For sure! Thank you Art! God bless you and Merry Christmas!
As a fan (and quasi journalist) of soccer in the US, I spend a lot of time reading, writing and thinking about soccer. What works, what doesn't, existing problems and potential solutions. Unfortunately, I feel like I spend more time complaining about things and asking questions then actually providing answers and outlining potential solutions. This article is my attempt to change that, and may be one in a series of articles.
One of the states that frustrates me the most is Connecticut. Currently it boasts a population of 3,576,452 as of 2016, while being bigger than only Delaware and it's immediate neighbor, Rhode Island. Yet for some reason, this state has five amateur men's soccer leagues. One is an over 40 league, so for the purpose of this article won't be included.
Why in the world does a state of this size and population have four men's league containing fifty one teams? Ultimately, that comes down to a number of things. Money, power, pride, a weak state soccer association, but why couldn't Connecticut show a better way forward now?
I don't have answers for overcoming those objections, but maybe by showing what the possible outcome of working together would look like, teams and leagues will be galvanized to move towards a better future.
Currently the four competing men's leagues are the Amateur Soccer League of Connecticut, the Connecticut Adult Soccer League, the Connecticut Soccer League, and the Shoreline Adult Soccer League. There are fifty teams between these four leagues, making it easy to start this new Connecticut State Soccer Conferences with an even number of teams per division. There are a couple of B teams in these leagues, and they actually reduce the total number to forty eight.
The structure of the new Connecticut State Soccer Conferences is simple. Four conferences of twelve teams, last place team gets relegated to the division beneath it, winner of the lower division gets promoted. Round robin, home and away schedule means you have a twenty two game season. This also makes it easy to coordinate a Connecticut State Soccer Cup that's open to all forty eight teams in the CSSC, with room to invite teams from local city or Hispanic leagues, or you can do the Cup with just the forty eight CSSC teams.
Now, here is what your finished CSSC pyramid looks like, kicking off in 2018.
Waterbury City FC
Hamden Rovers FC
Vasco Da Gama CC
North Branford SC
Newtown Salty Dogs
Henry C Reid FC
Litchfield County Blues
Caseus New Haven FC
FC New Fairfield
Bridgeport United FC
Clinton Internazionale FC
Woodbridge Yellow Jackets
Haddam Killingworth AC
New Fairfield FC
United Nations FC
Admit it. That structure is awesome, and you'd love to see it happen. And there's still room to add new teams, by either promoting more teams up to create more space and keep schedules balanced, or you could just start a new Conference Five. This structure consolidates teams under one banner and makes it easier to market and promote soccer in Connecticut as a whole. Centralized social media for the Conference and the ability to use a service like MyCujoo for Conference wide live streaming. How would this be a bad thing?
Maybe it's time to start emailing this article to the people in charge of these leagues and sharing it with their social media pages. Who knows? Maybe we can make change happen from the ground up in the state of Connecticut.
"In this country the fan is very important, without your support your local club will not be able to exist."
AP is now on Patreon! For the price of a cup of coffee, or less than the cost of your Netflix each month, you can help AP not only continue to operate, but grow and reach new forms of story telling and interviews. Contribute anything from a $1 a month to $100, and qualify for cool rewards! Everything will go towards helping AP increase coverage of lower level soccer and stay around for years to come. Please consider becoming a Patron of AP by clicking Here.
Happy Monday everyone! I know a few weeks ago I said AP was done with new interviews until 2018. Well, after saying that, several things happened that have changed the release schedule. First, I was approached by the Atlanta Silverbacks about writing on their recent deal with the ASFC Trust, which you can read about by Clicking Here. Then last week I was approached by John Frusciante to do a special release interview on his new team, Monmouth Generals FC, which will begin play next year. I'd say more, but I've got work to do, so without further ado, please enjoy this interview with John Frusciante. Check it out.
"The personal connection to a sports team is unbelievable when you are involved in the operation."
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Hello again and welcome back to American Pyramid! I've got some big news to share with you as AP is now on Patreon! For the price of a cup of coffee, or less than the cost of your Netflix each month, you can help AP not only continue to operate, but grow and reach new forms of story telling and interviews. You contribute anything from a $1 a month to $100. Every little bit will go towards helping AP increase coverage of lower level soccer and stay around for years to come. Please consider becoming a Patron of AP by clicking Here.
Today's interview was actually a surprise. Normally I stop doing interviews in early December because of the holidays and the added things to do, but this news was too big. The Atlanta Silverbacks actually reached out to me about doing this interview, connecting me with Paul Scanling of the ASFC Supporters Trust. A little overview: The Silverbacks, playing in the NPSL, are giving the Trust the chance to buy up to a 25% stake in the club, as long as they can raise enough funds. As you know, regardless of the level this is big news for any team. Paul took some time to talk with me last week about how this all came together. Check it out.