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A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together
By Amy Bass
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When thousands of Somali refugees resettled in Lewiston, Maine, a struggling, overwhelmingly white town, longtime residents grew uneasy. Then the mayor wrote a letter asking Somalis to stop coming, which became a national story. While scandal threatened to subsume the town, its high school’s soccer coach integrated Somali kids onto his team, and their passion began to heal old wounds. Taking readers behind the tumult of this controversial team — and onto the pitch where the teammates vied to become state champions and achieved a vital sense of understanding — One Goal is a timely story about overcoming the prejudices that divide us.
When you have a football at your feet, you are free.
Master of the front handspring flip throw-in, Maulid Abdow held the ball and surveyed the vast field before him under the gray November sky. His teammates spread in a sea of blue across the green pitch—Karim and Moha, Nuri and Q, Maslah and Abdi H. White-shirted Scarborough defenders multiplied by the second. Scarborough’s goalkeeper, Cameron Nigro, stood out among the scrambling traffic before the box, his black-and-gold adidas flame shirt mirroring his shocking blond Mohawk. He towered above the fray, a human roadblock before the net.
If Sid Vicious ever thought about playing soccer, he would’ve looked to Cam Nigro for style tips.
Maulid knew that his parents, Hassan Matan and Shafea Omar—neither of whom spoke much English, but both could talk soccer—were somewhere in the stadium amidst the cacophony cheering the Lewiston Blue Devils. Women, heads covered by colorful hijabs, sat next to students with faces painted blue and white. Men in koofiyads cheered beside those in baseball caps and ski hats.
Some 4,500 fans—the highest attendance ever for a high school soccer game in Maine—made their presence known from the stands of Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium on November 7, 2015. They gathered to watch the undefeated Blue Devils finish their season on top, which they had failed to do just one year ago against Cheverus High School. The 113 goals that brought them to this moment didn’t matter anymore. Their national ranking didn’t matter anymore. The goal they had scored earlier, the one a referee took away—“offside” was the call—didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered was this moment, this game, this team.
Maulid glanced at the clock: just over sixteen minutes remained. Funny and charming off the field, his deep voice often gently ribbing his friends before descending into rich laughter, he now stood deadly serious. His slim legs fidgeted back and forth, his hot-pink-and-blue cleats making dizzying patterns as his right foot pushed out in front, ready to take the lead.
“Ohhhhhh, this isn’t the jungle!” he heard, followed by what he assumed were monkey noises. “Stop flipping!”
Maulid had no patience for racist trash talk, but Scarborough fans had a reputation. There’d been an incident about a year ago when Scarborough played Deering. But Coach drilled into them that putting points on the scoreboard was the best response, something he intended to do right now.
“We play,” Coach McGraw said in one of his legendary pre-game speeches, “the right way. You rise above everybody else. We play hard. We play fair. Because winning without playing fair is a shallow victory. You let other people play those games. Those games take energy, energy that they waste.”
Just beat ’em.
Everything the coach said corresponded to what Maulid’s parents told him about living in Maine: ignore ignorance. His parents were very happy to live in Lewiston. They appreciated the schools, health care, and jobs. Those things were important. But it was more than that. They felt free in Lewiston; something his mother had realized when she traveled back to Africa on a U.S. passport for the first time to see her family. Compared to what she saw there, she could never say that life in Lewiston was hard, no matter what it threw at her.
But it wasn’t perfect. She understood that no matter how long they were in Maine, not everyone would be okay with it. Her kids told her about the stuff people wrote online, in response to the many newspaper articles over the years about Somalis living in Lewiston. She heard it herself when running errands or heading to her job at Walmart or to babysit. “Why are you here?” they asked, sometimes swearing. “Why are you taking money from our government?” Worry about yourself, she told her children. Yes, it hurts, but they can’t hurt you. They have no authority to do anything to you.
On the field, Maulid heard it all, especially when the game turned rough, as it often did against Lewiston. Years ago, when he first came to America, he had no idea what kids were saying to him, but he knew it wasn’t good. Now he understood those kinds of words all too well.
“Get outta my side, nigger,” a defender might taunt. “Go back to your country.”
“I can’t go back,” Maulid says of such incidents, understanding that Lewiston is his home because it has to be. “And if I could, they can’t make me.”
Ignore them, Maulid thought as Scarborough fans continued to bait him. He didn’t have it as bad as Mohamed “Moe” Khalid, who played in the backline on this side. They were relentless to Moe, but he could take it. Moe played lacrosse in the spring and was no stranger to the n-word.
At least they’re watching, Maulid thought. He looked back at the bleachers and grinned just for the hell of it. They could say whatever they wanted. He wasn’t going to stop.
He squeezed the white-and-black ball tighter, pressing it harder between his palms. It no longer felt slippery. He hoped a little spit on his dark fingers would be the magic glue that gave him the pinpoint precision he needed.
In a battle such as the one unfolding on the field, Maulid understood how a set piece—a moment when the ball returns to play after a stoppage, usually by a corner kick, free kick, or throw-in—could make all the difference. In the game against Bangor just a few days earlier, Maulid had made it happen. Indeed, he felt like he’d done it a million times before, but every second of this game felt like the first. At the half, McGraw had emphasized they had to find one chance, one play, to get that one goal.
“Let’s see what kind of conditioning we’ve got,” he’d said to his huddling players as they bounced on their toes. “Let’s take advantage of the one break we’re going to get, and we’ll see what we’ll see.”
Watching Maulid from the sidelines, Coach Mike McGraw knew all too well that the longer Scarborough held down his offense, the more one play could make the difference. They hadn’t been held scoreless for an entire half all season. This was unfamiliar territory.
No, he assured anyone who asked. He didn’t need a state title. He wanted one. More than anything. In the classroom, on the field, he was a patient man. But he’d waited a long time for this chance. Thirty-three years, to be exact. One would be hard-pressed to find a more experienced high school soccer coach than McGraw, who first took Lewiston to a state soccer final in 1991. Then, his roster had names like Kevin and Steve, John and Tony. Now he coached Muktar, Maslah, Karim, and Abdi H. For many reasons, this was not the same team.
All but one on the starting varsity roster were refugees.
The meteoric rise of the Lewiston Blue Devils to the top ranks of U.S. high school soccer shows what happens when America works the way it is supposed to; the way it reads on paper. On the surface, the Blue Devils are a simple feel-good tale: refugee kids playing soccer. But theirs is more than just a great sports story. The Blue Devils made their championship run in one of the whitest states in America, in a city that didn’t talk about hope for a long time. They played soccer while politicians debated Syrian refugees and American security, and the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump generated headlines about the prospect of building a wall to keep out immigrants, illegal or otherwise.
But the world’s 60 million refugees are not mere immigrants. Theirs is almost always a story of war, of people fleeing—by foot, by water, by any means necessary—a dying country toward a life of limbo. The families of these soccer players arrived in Lewiston to mixed receptions and created a community with soccer at its core, the players translating tight-knit family and community connections to success on the field. As they learned to deal with language barriers, racial slurs, and new cultural norms, they played soccer in city parks and recreational leagues. In winter, they gathered in the parking lot of the Colisée, the local hockey arena, sky-high snowbanks marking the goals. Once the boys were playing for local legend McGraw in high school, they built a team with one goal: the first state soccer championship in Lewiston history.
A small, Catholic, French-Canadian city on the banks of the Androscoggin River, Lewiston isn’t the Maine of blueberry pie and lobster boils, sailboats and the Bush family. For decades, the former mill town’s postwar economic downturn saw its abandoned redbrick factory buildings begin to crumble into the river and canals. By 2000, more than half of the city’s families with children under five lived at or below the poverty line. Residents of Auburn, the “twin” city across the river, refer to “Dirty Lew” with a scorn usually reserved for thieves and murderers, both of which they claim Lewiston is filled with.
But in 2001, Lewiston changed. Thousands of Somali refugees knocked on the city’s door, drastically altering its sense of self. In about a decade’s time, the city of 36,000 welcomed approximately 7,000 African immigrants. Never in modern U.S. history had a city of this size taken in so many newcomers so quickly. The new residents shifted Lewiston’s demographic landscape, halting the population decline that had plagued the city for the last three decades.
According to U.S. census data, before the Somali influx, some 96 percent of Lewiston identified as white; almost a third spoke a language other than English at home, primarily French. Within a decade, the city’s non-white population surged over 800 percent, seven times higher than the state average of 1.2 percent. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the high school, one of the largest in the state. Of its 1,300 or so students, approximately 25 percent are African immigrants, the majority of whom are Somali.
The soccer team represents a coming of age for Somalis in Lewiston and a blueprint of sorts for a global future. The team’s success embodies a negotiation between an immigrant community and its chosen home, an often difficult conversation about language, religion, culture, education, and family.
Soccer has been a microcosm of Lewiston’s transition from former factory town to global host. These players, McGraw says to anyone who asks, are seeds that can grow into something new for Lewiston. It’s not a Hoop Dreams story, where kids use sports to escape something. These kids aren’t trying to escape—that part already happened—and they aren’t problems to be solved. They are classmates, teammates, and neighbors, forging relationships for a community to emulate. Soccer is how these kids live where they landed.
Why Not Us?
When Lewiston lost its first state championship—a 2–0 shutout by Brunswick—in 1991, Mike McGraw didn’t know when, or if, he’d get another chance. Many hoped the next year would be it, but it wasn’t. Despite scoring fifty goals—the most yet in Lewiston history—players such as Dan LeClerc, Earl St. Hilaire, and Swedish exchange student Per Kiltorp did not get back to the final. But eventually, some twenty-three years later, November 8, 2014—a year before Maulid tried to figure out how to get the ball over the heads of Scarborough’s defense—McGraw got another chance.
The 2014 Maine Class A Boys Soccer State Championship had all the hype of a Hollywood movie. As the Lewiston Sun Journal explained, the game pitted Lewiston’s fairy-tale season against the Cinderella run of Cheverus High School.
Seeded seventh entering the playoffs, Cheverus was delighted just to be at the ball, filling its Twitter feeds with the hashtag “#WhyNotUs?” as it worked through the playoff bracket. Not only were the Stags there to win, they might actually have the chops to make it happen.
Why not them?
Lewiston’s team rode into the championship game confident about the outcome. Despite some battles along the way, they had a nearly flawless record. In early October, after a hard-fought 2–1 win over Bangor, even the usually reserved McGraw admitted they could go all the way, peaking at exactly the right time, playing like a championship team. But the Blue Devils had a lot of baggage to deal with, coming up short in heartbreaking fashion year after year.
In 2012, a second-seeded Lewiston squad faced top-seeded Mt. Ararat in the regional final, the last stop before the state championship game. Even now, Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller can’t talk about it without grimacing.
“Still painful,” he says.
With forty-six seconds of regulation play left on the clock, Lewiston tied Mt. Ararat 1–1. Excited Lewiston fans spilled onto the field, creating chaos and merriment despite Fuller’s best efforts to keep them in their seats. He knew the refs weren’t going to like a horde of cheering kids running over the sideline. When junior midfielder Abdullahi Shaleh ripped off his shirt, a once-popular move that FIFA outlawed in 2003, an official quickly raised a yellow card.
The call? Excessive celebration.
From the stands, Denis Wing, whose son Austin was then a freshman goalie, shook his head at the call. He wanted to be surprised that the ref had booked the kid, but knew all too well what some officials did when Lewiston was on the field. He had once played soccer for Lewiston.
Wing grew up on Chestnut Street. It’s a neighborhood where many of the Somali players now live, in the rectangular triple- and quadruple-stacked apartment houses of Lewiston’s “tree streets.” Upperclassmen at nearby Bates College are known to warn freshmen to turn back if they ever hit Walnut, Chestnut, Ash, and so on. But Wing only knew it as his old neighborhood, bristling whenever he heard someone talk badly about Lewiston’s “downtown kids,” code words for Somali. He was once a kid who lived downtown, back when the phrase described French-Canadian kids like him. From sunrise to sunset, he played next to the Colisée parking lot in Drouin Field, kicking balls through a set of rusted goalposts.
The Wings—Denis and his wife, Kathy; Austin and his younger brother, Dalton—now live in a house with a pool on the outskirts of town. Denis and Kathy liked helping out with their sons’ teams, becoming increasingly involved with soccer’s Booster Club, and were sideline fixtures on game days. Denis Wing knew soccer well. But today, he was confused. He watched as Mt. Ararat’s goalie talked to the official. After a quick back-and-forth, the goalie walked back to the box. The referee brought out a red card. Taunting.
Down on the field, McGraw stood stunned as Mt. Ararat fans cheered. Taunting? How could Abdullahi taunt fans who were on the other side of the bleachers? Taunting who, exactly?
Wing couldn’t believe it, either. The red card was bad enough, but the way it happened seemed absurd. The goalie talks to a ref, and a red card comes out? The ref was going to take the word of what the goalie said happened? If it was excessive celebration and taunting, why didn’t the red card come out in the first place?
For generations, Lewiston athletes knew all too well what other schools thought of them. Even before the Somalis started playing, before questions of racial bias threatened every time a ref pulled a card, Lewiston got a bum rap. When teams played Lewiston, McGraw says, they tended to “junk it up a little bit.” The “Dirty Lew” has long resonated throughout the state as a city filled with broken homes, cars, and people; not the stuff of tourism brochures. McGraw remembers once, long ago, when one of his players got a yellow card in a game against Westbrook. Baffled about what the player had done, McGraw asked for clarification.
“Typical Lewiston kid!” the ref replied, an answer McGraw knew all too well.
“We didn’t lose to Westbrook for a long time after that,” McGraw chuckles.
Wing could never get over the kinds of calls that Lewiston stomached, or the calls other teams didn’t get, especially now that Lewiston fielded a team with so many brown faces. And it wasn’t only with soccer. In 2007, a man threw some kind of substance into Mohamed Noor’s eyes at the New England Cross Country Championships in the wooded part of the course. Previously unbeaten, Lewiston’s star runner fell from second to 124th place, running much of the race with his eyes shut. An ambulance crew later treated him for extreme nausea; the perpetrator was never caught.
Wing knew the game he was watching was no exception. What about Mt. Ararat stepping over the line on every throw-in? he thought. But no. Instead, Lewiston got a red card for taunting, the refs visibly irritated that fans stormed the field, and went into overtime a man down.
Lewiston’s offense dominated overtime but couldn’t find the back of the net. Two minutes into the second overtime, Mt. Ararat did, redirecting a long throw-in. The Blue Devils collapsed on the field as the Eagles ran screaming to the cheers of the home crowd.
“The kid’s foot was over the line again,” a parent near Wing said, staring at the field. “His foot was definitely over the line.”
Coach McGraw felt the loss. It hurt. Years later, he can pull out an instant replay of that game as if it was yesterday.
“I kicked myself in the hind end because instead of taking a player out of the attacking zone and putting him defensively, I should’ve taken a midfielder and put him up in the attacking end,” he says of the lesson he learned that day. “Then, instead of attacking with four midfielders like we do, attack with three and still have five extra guys—our defenders can hold their own. Or even take an extra defender off and put him up front, because we were that good.”
McGraw knows that hindsight is twenty-twenty. But the loss to Mt. Ararat was a wake-up call. Never again would he panic when playing a man down.
A year later, in 2013, Lewiston returned to the regional final, this time against Hampden Academy. The Blue Devils trailed by a goal at halftime, their fast-paced offense slowed by a strong Bronco defense. With Austin Wing, now a sophomore, in goal, Lewiston launched an uncompromising comeback in the second half that forced the game into overtime. But it ended in heartbreak: a Hampden header happened so fast Austin barely had time to think about warding it off. Reaching the state championship game had become Lewiston’s ultima Thule, seemingly in reach yet unattainable.
“You guys have been so snakebitten!” other coaches said to McGraw, reeling off snapshots from Lewiston’s greatest defeats: last-second throw-ins going in, balls hitting off the back. Losing big games became Lewiston’s calling card.
The 2014 season changed that.
The team emblazoned its new attitude on the back of a t-shirt senior midfielder Mike Wong designed. “Our Turn,” it announced above the outline of a player on his knees, arms outstretched overhead in victory. The boys were confident, in sync. They dominated opponents, playing a fierce offense that paid little heed to anyone’s defense. Their backline, composed of a mix of Wong, Zak Abdulle, Aden “Biwe” Mohamed, and Ibrahim Hussein, protected what the fleet feet of the offense put into the net, offensive energy feeding defensive determination.
At the end of the regular season, twin city rival Edward Little High School, which sits atop Goff Hill in Auburn just across the Androscoggin River, forced the Blue Devils to play from behind for the first time that fall. But they made up for it in the second half, scoring three times in the last twelve minutes of the game. Karim Abdulle and Abdi Shariff-Hassan—Abdi H.—converted penalty kicks. Senior Gage Cote met a cross from Hassan “Speedy” Mohamed, a kid whose nickname fit so well even his mother adopted it, and lasered it into the net.
Speedy was the kind of kid McGraw liked to spring on other teams. He wasn’t the prettiest of soccer players, but the champion sprinter moved faster than anyone McGraw had ever seen, from midfield to the box and back again in a flash. If the opposition’s defense tried to chase him down, which was almost impossible, more opportunities opened for his teammates. If the opposition decided he couldn’t be defended, he could get the ball in front of someone for a shot, as he did with Gage.
McGraw was thrilled that his team successfully came from behind, knowing it was good preparation for the playoffs. The Blue Devils ended the regular season 13–0–1, marking only the third time the team finished undefeated, and the first time since 1981. Finally, they were the top seed heading into the playoffs.
As the t-shirt said, it was their turn.
After handily making their way through the postseason bracket, the Blue Devils knew they had the chops to beat Brunswick in the regional final. Lewiston’s front line netted sixty-six goals that season, while the defense allowed only twelve. They’d won four of their last seven games in shutouts.
But the team had to make some adjustments when two key defenders were benched after getting caught at a party with alcohol. Photographs rapidly circulated through social media, ensuring that everyone knew about it. Mike McGraw believed in rules and consequences, playoffs or not. More than winning, he wanted his players to learn. But it was a tough lesson.
The Blue Devils had a deep squad and could work around missing players. McGraw moved Moe Khalid, who played midfield off the bench, to the backline. Midfielders play between the offensive forwards and the defenders, connecting the two lines. Depending on a team’s strategic formation on any given day, midfielders have to be versatile. Some lean toward defense, breaking up opponents’ attacks. Others swing between offensive and defensive roles, using good passing skills, stamina, and speed to work the ball box-to-box. Still others, the most creative and adept, are playmakers, more attack-minded. They control possession and pick out the perfect killer pass, doing less defensive work than their teammates.
Strong and with some size, Moe tended to play more defensively, but he was able to switch gears and turn strength into speed when needed.
“I can attack,” he says of his versatility. “Wherever I am, I always attack.”
Moe liked the move to defense. It suited his competitive temperament, which could be aggressive. While he’s charming and handsome, Moe’s moods swing dramatically, changing from amiable to ferocious in a flash. He has always been this way, fiercely strong-willed, sometimes abrasive, extremely independent, and very outspoken. The loyalty he shows friends, the sweet demeanor he reserves for family—especially younger brother Sharmarke—can morph into fury. He is, he admits, no stranger to trouble.
Moe grew up in Hagadera, one of five refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya. Run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp, overcrowded and underfunded. Located in Kenya’s Garissa County, the UN estimates that some 350,000 refugees inhabit the rows of dwellings made of varying combinations of tarp, plastic, and mud. Others estimate that the population approaches half a million. If considered a city, Dadaab would be Kenya’s third largest. The hotels, shopping centers, taxis, buses, and schools are largely run by refugees, and stimulate the regional economy. According to a recent World Bank report, Dadaab generates approximately $14 million within the Kenyan economy each year. Other analysts claim the figure could be twice that.
From the air, Dadaab would resemble the tract housing found in many American suburbs. Homes are lined up on square partitions of land. Dusty, straight roads in right angles connect them. But on the ground, the view is very different. Families scramble to get water, wood, and food during daylight hours, standing in long lines for rations while keeping a watchful eye on encroaching darkness, wary of the crime that escalates once the sun goes down.
The camp was established in 1991 as a stopgap measure to house those fleeing the bloodshed that accompanied the ouster of Somali president Mohamed Siad Barre. But recently the Kenyan government has made clear that it wants out of the refugee business, claiming—accurately, it seems—that the camps harbor members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. In 2013, Kenyan and Somali leaders signed an agreement to begin the repatriation of Dadaab’s residents. In the wake of the Al-Shabaab attack on Garissa University College in 2015 that left 147 dead, efforts to close Dadaab gained momentum, despite the fact that the attackers were Kenyan, not Somali.
Unlike some of his teammates, who simply say “nice”—a word they use often in response to a question they don’t want to answer—when asked about growing up in a refugee camp, Moe speaks freely, vividly, about his time in Hagadera. He remembers the day the grocery store burned down. The robberies. The daily demand to get fresh water before the well shut down during Asr, the third of the five daily prayers, around four o’clock in the afternoon. He remembers his mother, Habibo Farah, a small, shy woman he describes as “the strongest person I know,” walking to different houses at night, searching for leftovers his family could have for dinner. He remembers nights with no dinner at all. His father wasn’t around much, there was little money, and hunger threatened constantly.
When he was just three years old, he saw one of his best friends digging through his own excrement to find something, anything, to eat.
- "The perfect parable for our time."—Jane Leavy, The Wall Street Journal
- "A magnificent and significant book about soccer in the United States...at once a stark look at the lives of the Somali refugees and a serious study of why soccer matters as a link between disparate cultures and peoples....Some of the vignettes of life for these refugees are as unforgettable as any heart-stopping game."—The Globe & Mail
- "Amy Bass tells a story that encompasses many of the things people love about sports, but also epitomizes many of the reasons sports matter."—Bob Costas
- "In this noisy era of glib hot-takes and childish finger-pointing, it's too easy to forget that the national character--hardworking, immigrant-fueled, optimistic--was built from the bottom up. Let Amy Bass remind you. Let her take you to our frosty upper righthand corner, to Lewiston, Maine, where quiet heroes like Mike McGraw, Abdi H. and the magical Blue Devils show again just how it's done. This is not just a great story, deftly reported and unflinchingly told. It's not just a story of one obscure high school season. It's the American story, just when you feared that it might be fading fast, renewed."—S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer and author of PlayingThrough The Whistle: Steel, Football and an American Town
- "A lively, informative, and entertaining...underdog story that skillfully blends elements of human compassion, passion for a sport, determination, and endurance with overtones of societal pressure and racism. It's an exhilarating narrative that shows how perseverance and the ability to disregard the narrow-mindedness of xenophobia can lead to victory....An edifying and adrenaline-charged tale."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
- "At a time when America seems consumed by divisiveness and hate, along comes One Goal, a beautiful and important reminder that humanity's strength is its togetherness. Yes, on the surface this is a soccer book. But Amy Bass' work is so much more. It's about overcoming odds, about embracing differences, about the triumph of will and spirit. A true gem of a book."—Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of The Bad Guys Won and Gunslinger
"A story that is not only relevant to our national discourse, but essential. This is a book about the big 'isms,' but it is most of all a book about human beings, compellingly and movingly rendered."
—Jeremy Schaap, New York Times bestselling author of Cinderella Man
- "A touching work showing how different groups can come together through sports"—Library Journal, Best Books of the Year
"In this gripping account of Lewiston's journey to its first-ever high-school soccer state championship, history professor Bass vividly tells the stories of the Somalis and Lewiston, exploring the resistance and racism the refugees faced in town and on the field....a heartening example of sport's ability to bring people together...Engrossing and informative."
- "One Goal has made me feel optimistic about the country I live in. The vibrant, colorful and courageous characters will make you smile. The coach of the Blue Devils, Mike McGraw, is the kind of man you wish your own kids could learn from- and he teaches a lot more than soccer. One Goal is about so much more than sports. It illustrates how powerful and transcendent teamwork and community can be."—Mary Carillo, analyst, NBC Sports
"Amy Bass's book transcends sports and provides encouragement in discouraging times."
—Bill Littlefield, Boston Globe, Best Books of the Year
- "Wondrous....The players' humble triumphs remind us that no win is too small....One Goal illustrates how sport changed the history of a small town in Maine and connected so many people. It's a relevant tale in today's political climate, where fear and bigotry can be conquered by inclusion, understanding, and the beautiful game."—ShireenAhmed, co-host of the Burn It All Down podcast
- "[A] relevant and rewarding narrative... Bass's effective portrayal of Lewiston as a microcosm of America's changing culture should be required reading."—Publishers Weekly
- "We can use more books that make us feel good about being Americans. This one does that."—Lee Miller, The Boston Globe
- "Bass captures the essence of this unlikely band of brothers perfectly. This isn't a story about a soccer team....More than anything, this is a story of hope. The hope that brought thousands of Africans to a remote corner of the America in search of a better life. The hope that made a city finally open its arms to the children of those immigrants. The hope that our future still might be better than our past."—Tom Caron, anchor, New England Sports Network
- "One Goal is Friday Night Lights for the twenty-first century."—Brian Phillips, author of Impossible Owls
- "The inspirational story of how Somali refugees and native-born white kids in Lewiston, Maine, banded together to win a state championship, helping bridge racial and cultural divides...Bass broadens the story to show how it fits into the story of immigration, racism, Islamaphobia and economic decline in rust belt American towns."—The Hollywood Reporter
- On Sale
- Feb 26, 2019
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Hachette Books