Local rivals Salone FC and Junior Lone Star FC are taking their rivalry to a national stage.
Philadelphia-based club Salone FC has joined Junior Lone Star FC in the United Premier Soccer League, the league announced on Wednesday.
“When I came to Philadelphia to do this I told everyone that we’re going to find a level that is attractive to the players and the community,” club director of operations and head coach Fotay Kamara said in a news release. “I’ve followed the UPSL for several years now and it’s growing every week. Everyday I’m watching for the next press release, and the UPSL is something that I know for sure is going to benefit the community. And we didn’t want to wait 2-3 years’ time and have some kind of regret. We want to contribute to the growth of the league moving forward.”
Salone FC will play its home games at Interboro High School in Prospect Park. They’ll compete in the upcoming spring season in the American Division of the Northeast Conference, which includes Junior Lone Star FC, New Jersey Teamsters FC, Rochester Super 9 and SGFC Eagles FC.
Founded in 2001, Salone FC has participated in local amateur leagues and in local qualifying for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
“The Northeast has become a stronghold for the UPSL thanks to the diligent work of a lot a great people, and it gets stronger when clubs from some of the nation’s major markets like Philadelphia want their players to seize the opportunity that is the UPSL,” stated league commissioner Yan Skwara.
Paul Konneh, president of Junior Lone Star FC, said he was excited to see a familiar team join the league. Junior Lone Star’s U23 team will play in the league in addition to their senior team still competing in the National Premier Soccer League.
“To see them take a jump from a local league to a national league shows the vision their board now has for the players,” Konneh said. “We have had our share of local rivalry games but the UPSL gives both teams the chance to take that rivalry on the national scene.”
Kamara, a Liberia native who played professionally for the Virginia Royals, said being in the league will provide an opportunity to grow the club.
“We still have a lot of players with the ambition to play professional soccer, and this is going to turn into a big club for them,” Kamara said. “Salone FC already is turning into a big club, and we have new players coming in trying to see what it takes. I really like this future of this club.”