by David Falk
TUKWILA, WA— Nido Aguila Club America Seattle debuted in the Puget Sound region in 2019. The club played friendlies, set up scouting trips with Mexican soccer giant Club America, joined the Western Washington Premier League and entered the brand new Washington State Super Cup.
So much positive stuff was going on for the club and General Manager / Owner Begad Anwar…and then tragedy struck. Friend to many on the club, talented player and teammate Brian Wambaa died in late March. The feeling of loss goes on even to this day.
“Win it for Wambaa!”
Nido Aguila Seattle turned for solace to the sport that binds them. The club took over the top spot in the WWPL for a month. Meanwhile they were also competing in the first ever Washington State Super Cup. It’s a new competition open to adult men’s clubs of any league to enter. It describe’s itself as “…an exciting new tournament modeled after the traditional cup competitions such as the Copa Del Rey or FA Cup,” for the State of Washington. 5 WWPL and 3 Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) clubs entered the competition. Nido wanted desperately to win it for their fallen friend. They rallied behind the cry “Win it for Wambaa.”
Evergreen Memorial Cup winners
The end of March saw the playing of the Eddie Craggs Evergreen Memorial Cup at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. It came so soon after Wambaa’s passing. Nido played through the shock.
Nido Aguila Seattle won it, besting EPLWA clubs Seattle Stars and Oly Town Artesians, along with WWPL club Kirkland FC. It turns out this was a bit of an appetizer for the Washington State Super Cup. They would see two of those sides again on the Super Cup run.
When Donkeys Fly
Meanwhile Anwar, who had known Wambaa since he was young, was further motivated by outsider comments.
“Win it for Wambaa that was the most important thing,” Anwar says. Then he explains another motivation. “I was inspired by Chievo Verona. Their badge is I Mussi Volanti which means flying donkeys. There was a rival team called Hellas Verona and they were in the top division in Italy and the fans from Hellas used to tease the Chievo fans by telling them they will get promoted when donkey fly so they adopted that badge and motto. I was told something similar by a rival team.”
Past PacNW in PK’s
It wasn’t going to be a long cup run, but that only made each match more important. First up was EPLWA (and former NPSL) side Pacific Northwest. It was a hell of a match, ending 3-3 and eventually going to kicks from the spot. Nido thrilled with a 4-3 advantage at the end of penalty kick rounds. The players and coaches rushed the field and celebrated plenty of pent-up emotions as Nido advanced.
Climbing over the Kirkland Goats
Up next for Nido in the Super Cup were 2018 WWPL Champions Kirkland FC Goats. The clubs took time out from league play to face each other in cup action. It was a tight 2-1 win for Nido who had earlier played the Goats to a 0-0 draw in a preseason match at Starfire. The semifinals win had put Nido into their first ever statewide cup final only a couple of months after the club was officially formed.
Meraz Brothers shine, cup is lifted
Nido entered the Washington State Super Cup Final to face the Evergreen Premier League’s Oly Town Artesians. The match was held Friday night July 12 at the Washington Premier Soccer Complex in Puyallup (photos.)
In the days before the match there had been some behind the scenes drama as both clubs discussed who would have the cup rights to the Meraz Brothers. They were on the Evergreen Premier League roster for Oly Town but were playing cup matches with Nido. As it turns out, in this season of twists and turns, they played and made a difference for Nido in a 3-0 Cup Final win.
Casey Woodruff, leading scorer all season for Nido, scored two quick goals off of Artesian mistakes and it was 2-0 for Nido after just a few minutes of play. They got one more and held.
The Eagles had won one for Brian Wambaa.
“The Meraz Brothers worked their butts off to make the Cup happen,” Anwar says. “We had to face three tough teams all the way to the final. Every game was a battle of its own because all the teams wanted to win the cup so bad.”
League title will have to wait
Nido Aguila eventually fell off the lead in the WWPL as Crossfire Redmond went on a 5-week reign at the top of the table, only to succumb themselves on the final week to eventual Champions Snohomish County FC.
It was not how the club wanted to end their debut season, but lessons have been learned and now they can all take a breath and reflect on the tragedy and triumphs of 2019.