#Football Friday: One Win Away

Luton Town vs. Coventry at Wembley; AS Roma vs. Sevilla; MUFC and HSC kick-off outdoor seasons

One more win. That’s all our friends from Luton Town need to celebrate their first ever promotion to the English Premier League.

If it happens, you may be able to hear the cheers from my friend Jez Bell all over Ontario (maybe coast to coast).

And he won’t be alone, as any neutral supporters should surely be cheering for the 138-year-old club beat Coventry in the promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (11:45 a.m. on DAZN Canada).

If you need more motivation, check out a bit of the background at Luton Town Dreams Big. Or read this story about this DR Congo midfielder who has represented Luton Town every step of the way on the journey from being a non-League side in 2014 to the brink of promotion (but only after reading the rest of this column): Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.

I will be watching intermittently from my phone as my daughter’s birthday party begins around halftime of the match, but I’ll still be cheering Luton on, and so should you.

Europa League Final

On Wednesday, May 31 our beloved Giallorossi will be taking on Sevilla in the Europa League Final being held in Budapest (3 p.m. on DAZN Canada).

The winner not only gets the Europa League trophy, which once was the UEFA Cup, but they get an automatic berth into next season’s Champions League.

That’s a luxurious icing on the cake for either team, which are both sitting outside the Champions League spots in their respective leagues – though AS Roma still has a slim chance of finishing in the Serie A Top 4 at the time of this writing.

Sevilla is likely to miss out on European football altogether should they lose the final, as they are in tenth in La Liga with only two league matches remaining.

It’s AS Roma Manager Jose Mourinho’s sixth European final he will coach in, second straight with AS Roma after winning the inaugural Europa Conference League last season, and he will be going for his sixth European title (the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 Champions League with Porto, the 2010 Champions League with Inter Milan, the 2017 Europa League with Manchester United).

Sevilla is going for its seventh trophy in this competition, having won two when it was the UEFA Cup and four in its current incarnation.

It’s too bad it’s a mid-week match with most people working or I may have thrown a watch party – or maybe I will for anyone around. We shall see.

Muskoka United, Huntsville SC summer seasons kick-off

Rep teams and house league programs throughout Muskoka got their summer seasons started these past couple of weeks.

In Huntsville, their rep development teams have been in training mode with the first Huronia District Soccer League (HDSL) matches coming up soon.

However, the House League season began on Victoria Day with each night through Thursday seeing full fields with ages 4 through 60-plus playing in their respective programs. Indeed, there are waiting lists at almost every age level.

“It’s amazing to see a return to pre-pandemic numbers at our club,” says Ted Maduri, president of both the Huntsville Soccer Club and Muskoka United FC. “We are very lucky to have so many amazing volunteers that contribute to keeping soccer vibrant throughout the community.”

Meanwhile, a few of the MUFC competitive rep teams are already playing official matches in their various leagues.

Some teams took tough losses, but the U17 Boys coached by David Caplan stepped up with a 2-0 victory over Orillia on Tuesday night at the McCulley-Robertson Sports Complex in Huntsville. Zach Caplan and Alfie Napper scored with Kai Doughty keeping a clean sheet in goal.

Many in the know in Muskoka have high hopes for this group of boys made up of kids born in 2006 and 2007 as they navigate the HDSL this season.

“We’re proud of the effort in our first official match of the season,” says Caplan. “Our team is full of great kids and we know they’ll represent Muskoka well throughout the year.”

Check out www.muskokaunitedfc.com or www.huntsvillesoccer.ca to learn more about these programs.

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