El Salvador

Lynn United soccer team moving up in the world

Juan Sossa looks to make a clearing pass to the outside during Saturday’s friendly game with Boston at Manning Field.


LYNN –The Lynn United men’s soccer team is going upscale.

Team CEO Eric Moreno said the team, which had been playing at the amateur level with the Massachusetts State Soccer League, has accepted a berth in the Champions Soccer League USA — a semipro organization with teams throughout New England.

“The opportunity was presented to us, and we started looking into it,” said Moreno, during a break in the action at Saturday night’s “friendly” at Manning Field with the Boston Siege. “We liked how it sounded, and we accepted.”

Moreno said the team had two tryouts and had close to 100 applicants. Of the team he picked, an overwhelming majority of them come from Lynn, with players also coming from Peabody, Salem and as far away as Lowell.

There are  lot of names on this team that should be familiar to soccer fans who followed the sport at the high school level in recent years. Among them are Salvador Castro, Abitalib Girdia, Yabesi Musema and Dami Dada, all of whom played for Lynn Classical; Francisco Franco (Lynn Tech), King Agbedun (English) and Moreno’s son, Eric, who played for Bishop Fenwick and Salem State.

Musema played in the Lynn Youth Soccer association, and his U18 team won two state championships. At Classical, Musema was a three-time Northeastern Conference all-star, the Rams won three league titles, and he was the league MVP. He was also a Daily item Player of the Year.

“Right now,” the younger Moreno said, “we’re in the fourth tier (of the semipro level). This is something similar to the North Shore Navigators (Futures Collegiate Baseball League) and the North Shore Generals (a Triple-A-level team in the New England Football League).”

In addition to some of the local talent, Moreno has signed players who spent most of their younger years in a country where soccer is more prevalent than it is up here.

Among them are Carlos Garcia, a winger, who is actually a returnee from last year’s club. Garcia was born in Boston, but raised in Honduras. When he came to Lynn, Moreno signed him up with his team.

German Fuentes, a midfielder-defender, began playing at a young age in El Salvador. When he came to the United States to pursue an education, he enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College, where he plans to play this fall. He has hopes of playing Division 1 soccer eventually.

Midfielder Juan Sossa’s career began in Colombia, where he played in several leagues. He caught the eye of Lynn United scouts during a local tournament, and they signed him to play. He is another returnee.

Another player Moreno is high on is defender Gabriel Rojas Perez, who began his soccer career in high school in Venezuela. Afterward he played in a third-division team in Venezuela before going to St. Thomas University in the United States. He then transferred to Colorado State.

After graduating, Rojas Perez played for Greater Lowell United, and then last season for Mass. United FC in the American Soccer League.

Moreno sees Rojas-Perez as a field general who will help mold the team together.

Agbedun was born in Nigeria, where he developed in interest in soccer at an early age. By the time he came to Lynn, he was a two-time league all-star in the Northeastern Conference, and was the Bulldogs’ captain his senior year.

Saturday night at Manning Field, the Lynn United team got a chance to stretch its legs a little in a friendly with the Boston Siege, also part of the CSL, and won, 6-2. The team plays for keeps beginning Saturday, April 29, at Manning Field against the Rockingham (N.H.) Rangers.


Lynn student is on a mission

North Shore Christian School eighth-grader Rebecca Ibanez talks about her experiences in El Salvador.


LYNN — Most middle-school girls go to the mall.

Rebecca Ibanez goes to El Salvador.

The 13-year-old eighth-grader at North Shore Christian School just returned from a missions trip to the Central American nation. It was her fifth missions trip and more are planned, including a return this summer to either El Salvador or Spain.

Rebecca is going places in every sense of the word. Lynn Rotary recently honored her for her charitable/church work. A pianist/singer, she enters the distinguished Boston Arts Academy in the fall. Her love for music comes naturally; her dad, El Salvador native Hector, plays guitar and mom Daniela Ibanez (nee Lopez, a Lynn Tech grad) is trained in audio engineering. Rebecca’s goal is to attend Berklee College of Music and its after-school City Music program.

“I started piano when I was five or six,” said Rebecca. “I didn’t want to do it. I’d say, ‘No. It’s boring.’ But when I got into the youth ministry, I was able to enjoy it. I’ve played our churches in Lynn and Somerville, for about 400 of 500 members on a Sunday. It’s a big deal.

“I’m excited about going to the Boston Arts Academy. It’s a happy option, for me to go into something I’m passionate about,” added Rebecca, who reads music and is into jazz, blues and classical.

“You earned this yourself. Mama only filled out the applications,” added Daniela, who works for a demolition company in downtown Lynn.

During her most recent mission to San Miguel, El Salvador, Rebecca helped the family of Santiago Canello-Bonilla, a little boy who has had three strokes and suffered through serious medical issues in his young life.

“He’s doing really well. He’s six months old now,” said Rebecca, who added the full-length casts on his tiny legs have been removed.

Rebecca and her fellow missionaries also visited the homes of people in need, buying big bags of groceries. “Oil and rice mostly,” she said. “Those will last a long time.”

Hopping to help Lynn

Missions trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus.

During a prior mission in Spain, Rebecca was reunited with youth leaders who reinforced religious teachings and helped youths in a small church. The trip culminated with Rebecca and two other students — a singer and drummer — entertaining families in Reus, about 90 minutes south of Barcelona.

The Ibanez family are members of Vida Real Church in Lynn, the sister church to a larger congregation in Somerville. Living a life of purpose is the goal and the church’s “Hope Movement” project helps people in need, building houses, providing medicine, clothing, food and financial assistance.

Rebecca brought to El Salvador $440 donated by her family and members of the church. The entire amount is given to one family, who are encouraged to share it with neighbors in need. “They know who needs it most,” said Daniela.

“I am so proud of my daughter, she’s amazing” added Daniela. “I’m excited for what’s to come in her life. She has been taught that it’s better to give than receive, and she’s taken that to a new level. We, as parents, don’t tell her to what to do. She says to us, ‘I’m going.’ Rebecca makes the choice to help. We feel so blessed.”

Rebecca seems embarrassed. “I don’t brag about it. I’m just, OK, cool. There’s no reward from bragging.”

Priscilla Miro, director of administration at North Shore Christian School, said, on this trip, Rebecca and her team used their gifts and talents to train others in youth leadership through leading a youth retreat and participating in community outreaches.

“This is Rebecca’s fifth missions trip and she knows that she has grown through her participation in these adventures,” Miro said.

Bill Brotherton is the Item’s Features editor. He can be reached at bbrotherton@itemlive.com.

Excellence on full display at Breed Middle

Seventh-grade student Muna Adan acts as a guide at the Spanish exhibit.


LYNN — Standing with Magalie Rowe, we’re not exactly sure which country we’re in.

It looks as if we’re right on the border of Paraguay and Uruguay. Argentina and Chile are just inches away, and it’s only a short walk to Costa Rica.

Don’t worry; our geography isn’t that bad. We’re at the  “Night of Excellence,” an annual event put on by the students and staff at Breed Middle School.

Rowe, one of the school’s Spanish teachers, urges us to take a one day, 21-country trip. We’re to start in the United States, then head off to Mexico and Guatemala; countries to follow include Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, and Puerto Rico.

We don’t have to pay or take an airplane, Rowe says with a laugh; it’s a free trip. Well, count us in.

Surrounded by balloons, a handwritten sign says “Trip to Spanish-speaking countries.” Start here, and enjoy a line of student-made posters. The posters, decorated with glitter and streamers, detail customs and traditions of each country.

Flyers for the school’s Spanish Club “Society of Friendship” also line the exhibit. The society’s purpose is to “promote cross-cultural acceptance and understanding,” the flyer says.

Lynn says no; so what now?

Rowe, who is originally from Peru, interacts with students, faculty and parents Wednesday evening. Additional school subjects are represented by a wide range of exhibits set up across the building’s first floor.

Some students wave and welcome questions, while others clutch bowls of ice cream. Many stand next to their exhibits, eager to interact with those who pass by.

“This is one of our three open houses,” Principal Julie Louf said. The “Night of Excellence,” she said, is an opportunity for incoming fifth-grade students to see what Breed is all about.

It’s a big transition to middle school, Louf said; it’s important for fifth-graders to feel comfortable meeting with teachers and administrators.

Breed, which has more than 1,300 sixth- through eighth-grade students, produces some exemplary work, Louf said. The night is also a time for the students to show off to their parents.

“They’re very proud; and they should be,” she said. “… We have very high expectations of them, and that’s shown here tonight.”

David Wilson can be reached at dwilson@itemlive.com.

ICE rumors send chill through North Shore

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.


LYNN President Donald Trump’s high stakes effort to target millions of undocumented immigrants has frayed the nerves of many North Shore residents.

“There’s tremendous fear, uncertainty and confusion over what is happening with the administration’s crackdown and it’s not just people from Muslim countries,” said Denzil Mohammed, a director at the Immigrant Learning Center, a Malden nonprofit that educates the public on the contributions of immigrants.

During the campaign, Trump promised to end immigration as we know it. This week, the president equipped the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, with the tools to potentially remove millions of undocumented residents from the country. The administration said serious criminals will be a top priority, but some are not so sure.

“People are worried and many of us are trying to figure out how to protect our families,” said Jose Palma, a Lynn resident who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador nearly 20 years ago and works as an organizer at Neighbor To Neighbor, a local advocacy group. “Everyone is talking about what we should do if immigration enforcement officers show up at our homes and what kind of documents we must have to keep us safe.”

Day without immigrants hits Lynn

Juan Gonzalez, a Guatemalan native and founder of the American Latino Committee, said rumors are rampant about raids that may have been held in Lynn.

“The chief of police has assured me that this is not true, but people are still on edge,” he said.

Through a spokesman, Deputy Chief  Michael Mageary said no ICE raids have been made in the city.

Typically, ICE agents notify the Lynn Police Department before coming to the city and inform them about any actions they intend to take, according to Lt. Rick Donnelly.  

If an arrest is to be made, a Lynn police officer would accompany the ICE agent and the suspect would be taken to the police station for documentation before being sent to a federal facility, he said.

“We will assist ICE if they have a warrant, but we are not immigration officers and we don’t knock on doors asking residents if they are here legally,” Donnelly said.

An ICE spokesman confirmed the agency is not conducting any operations in Massachusetts.

Still, as part of its work, ICE officers target and arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of the country’s immigration laws, the spokesman said.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts is part of a global community and he has no plans to change enforcement measures when it comes to immigrants.

“We benefit enormously from the presence, the intelligence and vitality of foreign-born people in the commonwealth and we are going to work hard to remain a welcoming place for everyone,” Baker told The Item. “We have no intention of changing any of our policies.”

Mohammed said there’s confusion among newcomers over Trump’s aggressive immigration policies.

“Everything is happening so fast,” he said. “Many immigrants are questioning their futures in this country. Think of how damaging it would be for local economies of big cities where immigrants have moved in and are helping to sustain and rebuild them.”

A report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms, found that Massachusetts immigrants play a key role in the state as taxpayers and consumers.

In 2014, immigrant-led households in the Bay State earned $36.8 billion, 15 percent of all income earned by Massachusetts residents that year, the survey said. With those earnings, the state’s foreign-born households contributed more than one in every seven dollars paid by residents in state and local tax revenues, payments that support schools, police and fire protection, the study found.

Through their individual wage contributions, immigrants also paid about $4.6 billion into the Social Security and Medicare programs that year, researchers found. By spending the money they earn at businesses such as hair salons, grocery stores and coffee shops, the study said immigrants also support small business owners and job creation in the communities where they live.

The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Workers have their May Day

Protesters begin to congregate at the Corner of Greene Street and Union Street in Lynn for the International Workers May Day March.


LYNN — More than 100 protesters took to the streets of Lynn on Sunday to support worldwide International Workers May Day.

The peaceful group marched a mile from the intersection of Union and Green streets to Lynn Commons, ending with a short rally.

Jack Damas, 14, of Lynn, said while his family is from Haiti, he was born in the U.S. May Day is his first protest and he came with friends.

“I want everyone to be equal and for everyone to have fair rights,” he said.

David Gass, director of the Highlands Coalition, a group that endorsed the event, said the marchers included immigrants and-low income workers. He said the goal of the march is make people aware of the inequality and discrimination immigrants face.

Gass, 71, of Lynn, said many people in the city spend about half of their income on rent. One of the purposes of the rally was to lobby for a $15 an hour minimum wage, which, he said, would help people keep pace with the cost of living.

Angela Arce, vice-president of the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), said through an interpreter that she immigrated from Paraguay 17 years ago. The 42-year-old Salem resident said she came in search of opportunities and has two children, both U.S. citizens.

“I started a company,” she said through an interpreter. “We employ people. We’re fighting so immigrants can live and work in better conditions for just wages and so that undocumented immigrants can get drivers licenses so that everybody can drive in safety.”

Alexandra Pineros-Shields, ECCO’s executive director, said she’s from Spain, but has been in the U.S. for 47 years. The 52-year-old Salem resident said she came over when she was 4, after her parents decided to move.

Shields said ECCO, a network of congregations on the North Shore, is concerned about the rights of workers, particularly immigrants.

“All of the fights we fought for over the last century are slowly slipping away,” she said. “Our faith traditions tell us that everyone has dignity.”

Mother and daughter Mary Rosales, 50, and Tatiana Iraheta, 13, of Lynn, are facing foreclosure. Rosales is from El Salvador and came to the U.S. to escape the hardships faced during the country’s civil war. She said one of her brothers was killed. The two are working with Lynn United for Change to keep their home.

“It’s a human right to have a roof over your head,” Rosales said.

Jeff Crosby, president of the North Shore Labor Council and executive director of New Lynn Coalition, said support for workers is needed.

“This is a time when they’re trying to tear down the last few good jobs in America,” Crosby said. “That’s why we stopped at the Verizon offices to support their strike. We need union rights for immigrant workers.”

The local march, an annual event for about a decade, was organized by the ECCO, Lynn United for Change, Neighbor to Neighbor, New Lynn Coalition and Worker’s Center of Lynn.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley