Seleccion Carioca recently completed an impressive run through all four Minnesota Amateur Soccer League (MASL) levels by winning the 2010 Division 1 championship.
Carioca’s 6-2 win over Inferno ’98 gave them 12 wins and 6 ties for 42 points, and the top flight’s first undefeated season since FC Internationals went 18-0-0 in 2003.
The club’s rise to the top began in 2007 with the D4 championship (15-1-1) and promotion to D3. In 2008, Carioca won its second straight title and another step up by finishing 16-2. Last year, Carioca topped D2 at 16-1-1 and went on to win the combined D1/D2 playoff tournament, defeating D1 powers Inferno ’95, Internationals and TC Fire.
“I’ve had about eight players for five or six years, and I added some new players this year,” said Jorge Porter, Carioca coach. “Before the season, we had tryouts at McMurray in St. Paul, and we had between 60 and 80 players. I try to pick the best players.”
Carioca’s best players include Juan Fiz, a defender from Argentina who organizes the back line and adds composure to the club’s excellent possession game. He is joined centrally by Emilio Zelaya from Honduras and Marcel “Rocky” Marufo from Peru, a diminutive dynamo who roams freely behind one or more forwards.
On the outside, speedy wingers Saul Rosales and Rodrigo Galvan provide a constant threat. Rosales is a Shattuck-St. Mary’s grad currently playing at Iowa’s Luther College, and Galvan has received interest from professional clubs in Mexico, said Porter.
Prior to this season, Carioca moved its home field from Coon Rapids to St. Paul to attract more fans. Porter estimates that 150-200 attended Carioca’s clinching victory over Inferno ’98.
“Spanish people like to watch soccer,” he said. “I’ve tried to build a team that all the Spanish people in the Twin Cities will come to watch. That’s my goal.”
Carioca’s D1 championship would not have been possible without help from Cardinals SC (12-2-4, 40 pts), which finished second for the third time in six years. Cardinals could have clinched the title with a season-ending win over Inferno ’95, but they surrendered a two-goal halftime lead and lost, 3-2.
The win by Inferno ’95 lifted them ahead of Blackhawks, who finished last and were relegated. Blackhawks, founded in 1952 as the St. Paul Soccer Club, are scheduled to be replaced by Andover (11-2-5, 38 pts), which edged St. Cloud Lightning (12-5-1, 37 pts) for the D2 title.