Sweet, FA

bowlerBy Bill Thomas

Greg Dyke has not always had an easy time in these pages, but credit where it is due. The Football Association’s chairman was bang on the mark with his latest public utterance, designed as it is to cut down by some 50% the number of non-EU players plying their trade in the English game.

Given that there is nothing to be done about EU players flitting from one nation to another within the community’s boundaries, it must be those from abroad that are concentrated upon in order to try and get the epidemic of foreign nationals under some semblance of control and allow young, home grown footballers the chance to come in and thrive.

Footballers from outside the EU must apply for a work permit if they are to play in England – or, indeed, Scotland and Wales – and there are a number of rules laid down to determine whether or not they are a positive addition to our national game or not – international caps won coming into play and so on.

But if they do not meet those requirements, a club can go to a tribunal and lodge an appeal to make a case for him to be allowed to play, generally successfully, for few are the appeals that are rejected.

Dyke makes the wholly sensible point that, “Eighty per cent of the players that come in from outside the EU come in on appeal, where the manager goes along with a video and shows it to the committee and they say, “Well, he looks  a good player””.

This is clearly a pretty stupid system for all football supporters know full well that each team will contain a “Match of the Day” player or two, one who is good for a couple of eye catching tricks that get him onto the highlights but who is otherwise a liability to his side and the kind of player for whom no bargepole is truly long enough. If you watch him each week, you would never conclude that he is an asset to the game, but if you catch a glimpse of his showreel, he looks like Lionel Messi. What kind of way is that to make a judgement on a player?
None at all according to Dyke, who has waded in to the argument to say, “We want to get rid of that subjective part of the appeal process and say you either meet these criteria or you don’t.

“The analysis we’ve done says we’re not bringing in the best talent. There’s quite a lot of players coming in who aren’t the elite. They come and they take squad places.

“I think what we hope will happen is roughly half the number of players that are now coming from outside the EU won’t be able to get in here. It’s not vast numbers. But if you think that 30 a year won’t come, it means places for English kids in the squads.”

While the language might smack a little bit of UKIPcentic “they come over here and take our jobs” rhetoric, it isn’t that at all, because the simple fact is that the opportunity for young talent to break through into the English game is being smothered by players of no greater talent blocking up the entry routes.

We are all more than happy to see the likes of Angel Di Maria and Samuel Eto’o in the Premier League, players who bring in the crowds and inspire a younger generation of talent, but the presence of a slew of mere journeymen does nothing for the wider game.

As Dyke makes abundantly clear wherever grey areas exist in a bureaucratic system, there exists the opportunity for rules to be bent, thoughts to be clouded, poor decisions to be made, often under some degree of pressure from huge football clubs that can mobilise massive forces of opinion against some mere minion who dares prevent then bringing in those who do not comply with the requirements. Better by far to simply nip that possibility in the bud, create hard and fast, non negotiable rules and live by them.

Championship Contenders Emerge From The Shadows


Jordan Rhodes – helping Blackburn Rovers to turn their fortunes around.

By Paula Marcus

With 24 teams in the division and only a limited amount of space allocated for Championship football, it is hardly surprising that some teams get little coverage through the season.

The general rule to getting extra interest is to either be a perceived ‘big’ team (like Fulham) or to be a complete train wreck (step forward Leeds and Blackpool). The teams that work hard and play by the rules are often the ones that get overlooked.

One such club, is Blackburn Rover’s, who have experienced an impressive turnaround over the past few seasons. Just over two years ago fans were protesting at the manager, owners and pretty much anything to do with the club. Fast forward and Rovers are currently in their third Championship season and things couldn’t be more different. After spending big following relegation, using parachute money to fund Jordan Rhodes move to the club, they have continued to create a competitive side, now spending within their means.

After getting off to a poor start, especially in their efforts in fan relations, Venky’s London (the Indian group that own the club) now seem to have the fans on side. They have learnt the hard way just what it takes to own a football club and Rovers seem stronger for it, although sadly this probably means there won’t be a return of the flag wearing chicken from 2012. Last seasons eighth place finish was a drastic improvement on the previous season, and they will be hoping to use that momentum to challenge for promotion this time round.

Unlike Rovers, Ipswich Town managed to challenge for promotion in their first few years back in the second tier, and, it was after that they began to lose their way a little. What currently makes them stand out is their transfer policy. At a time when many teams have paid record fees and clubs are still spending more than they have, Ipswich have chosen to sign only free transfers, meaning that they are only required to pay signing on fees for their players.
After selling Aaron Cresswell to West Ham for over £3million it’s easy to see why some fans may be a little disgruntled. But manager Mick McCarthy is taking a gamble that there are plenty of talented players out there willing to work hard, that are all too often overlooked. This strategy has also enabled home grown players like Teddy Bishop to reach the first team, when they might otherwise have been left in the reserves. Whilst Town might not have players that are the same quality as teams like Forest and Derby, their squad is certainly strong enough to improve on last seasons ninth place and challenge for the play offs.

Another team concerned with Financial Fair Play (FFP) is AFC Bournemouth. After posting losses of £15million on the way to promotion in 2013, Bournemouth are now hoping to avoid fines associated with FFP, whilst at the same time becoming self sufficient. Having off field money troubles aren’t anything new for Bournemouth fans. Financial problems in 2008 saw them plummet to League two, after incurring points deductions associated with entering administration.

In order to balance the books, Bournemouth have done two things that would normally anger your average fans. Firstly they have reduced spending on players. That’s not to say they have followed Ipswich in not paying fees for players. Instead they have adopted an in-out policy, using money gained from the sale of Lewis Grabban to Norwich to fund Callum Wilson’s move from Coventry city.

The second thing that usually angers fans is a hike in ticket prices, and an announced 20% increase in the price of a season ticket would usually be followed by talks of a boycott. Instead the Bournemouth fans generally see this as the price of success and a necessary evil to fund the clubs further ambition. The problem Bournemouth face is that Dean Court (or now the Goldsands Stadium) is one of the smallest stadiums compared to other Championship grounds, holding only 12,000 fans, and increasing prices is the only way to increase revenue.

Fans usually expect the owner to have deep enough pockets to fund the club no matter what, and the lack of noise from the Bournemouth fans really shows the feel good factor around the club at the moment. Even though their impressive tenth place finish last season probably has something to do with it (along with the fact there is a belief they can do better this year), the relationship between the fans and the club really is impressive in this current climate.

These obviously aren’t the only clubs who are trying to do things the right way, with little chance of overtaking the daily update on who is the next favourite for the Leeds mangers job. Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall and Derby County are three more teams who have spent wisely despite the first two being embroiled in relegation battles for most of the past two seasons.

Even though the season is just over a month old, a few things are already clear; Championship spending is high, fans are as disillusioned as ever and there are far more controversial owners than usual. With this in mind, it’s nice to occasionally praise those clubs bucking the trend.

Listen to Paula’s latest Championship podcast.paula_02

Serie A Produces Goalfest But Fans Stay Home

Inter's hattrick hero Mauro Icardi

Inter’s hattrick hero Mauro Icardi

By Michael Ottolenghi

The fans are staying away, with just over 55% of seats filled so far in Serie A stadiums this season.

Star players have departed and few have arrived (depending on your opinion of Fernando Torres). But on the pitch Serie A has started with a bang, with an exciting weekend ahead.

Last weekend saw goalfests involving both Milanese teams, as Inter beat Sassuolo 7-0 and Milan shook off Parma in a 5-4 thriller at the Tardini stadium.  Juve and Roma also won, while Napoli were upset by Chievo at the San Paolo.  That leaves Juve, Roma and Milan top of the table with 100% records, with Inter two points behind and Napoli trailing by another point. This weekend’s games are likely to deliver more crucial early season verdicts, particularly in three games tinged with managerial nostalgia.

Juventus travel to Milan in a clash of new coaches and, the rossoneri will hope, changing destinies, as Milan have been far inferior to Juventus for the past three seasons.

This will be the first return to San Siro for Juventus’ new manager Massimiliano Allegri since he was sacked by Milan two seasons ago.  Allegri was seen as an odd choice to replace Antonio Conte in Turin, but he has produced two wins to start the season and the players seem happy under his guidance.  He has made few tactical changes and is heavily reliant on Paul Pogba in the absence of Andrea Pirlo to injury.  After their midweek Champions League win against Malmo, Allegri’s squad will be tested at San Siro on Saturday.

In the opposite dugout will be Filippo Inzaghi, who distinguished himself on the edge of the side line for both clubs, but now manages Milan.  Inzaghi has secured two wins to start the season, including that spectacular 5-4 victory in Parma last Sunday. But while that game showcased the talents of Jeremy Menez  and Inzaghi’s other strikers (whose goal tally represents the best start to a Milan season in over 50 years), Milan’s defence will have to perform much better against Carlos Tevez and colleagues if they have any chance of a result.  New recruit Alex, in particular, has been abysmal, although Daniele Bonera has also looked suspect.  But for the neutral Milan’s defensive frailties should ensure that this game should be remembered for more than managerial subplots.

Another game featuring an interesting managerial confrontation will see Zdenek Zeman’s Cagliari travel to Rome to face Rudi Garcia’s table-topping Roma.  Roma are favourites for the title and so should easily beat an inferior Cagliari side coming from a home defeat against Atalanta.  But Roma hardly shone themselves in a feeble 1-0 win against Empoli, and with midweek Champions League action of their own, this may be a good time for the old master to face the giallorossi. Zeman remains an iconic figure in Italian football, particularly in Rome. His second spell in charge of the giallorossi ended disastrously a couple of years ago, and his sometimes reckless devotion to attacking play has again been on display in Cagliari’s first two games of the season.  But with a point to prove and a rested squad, fireworks are guaranteed at both end of the pitch.

The final game of managerial intrigue will see two former Inter managers face each other far away from Milan, as Rafa Benitez’s Napoli travel to Udine to face Andrea Stramaccioni’s Udinese. Napoli are coming off a worrying home defeat to Chievo, courtesy of former Milan striker Maxi Lopez.  Coupled with the team’s exit from the Champions League at the qualifying stage, the partenopei already seem in crisis and need a win to calm their restless fans, who have questioned Benitez’s decision to visit his family in Liverpool during the international break.  Stramaccioni, for his part, is keen to prove that he can manage successfully in Serie A.  Udinese have not exactly impressed under their new manger, seeming, as ever, over-reliant on the brilliant if ageing Toto Di Natale (above), so far, but a result against Napoli would go a long way to endearing the Roman manager to his new fans.  Hopefully they will be in the stadium to witness the occasion.

Adios, Gus Johnson – We Hardly Knew You.

esclogoBy Tim Hall

Coming off a masterful job by ESPN broadcasting the most recent World Cup, very interested eyes now turn to Fox, owners of the American television rights to the next tournament, to see how they will get on. Topping the slick performance turned in by the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports will be a massive mountain to climb for a company that, while experienced in sports and – with Rupert Murdoch’s deep pockets – capable of anything, has never broadcasted a World Cup.  

Fox Sports wisely realized that attempting to match ESPN stride-for-stride was a fool’s errand, and instead attempted to focus, even in the earliest stages of planning, on points of differentiation. If you can’t offer as polished a product, you can at least put something out that’s gussied up with bells and whistles. It’s a strategy that has served Fox well over the years, from their bizarre reliance on dancing robots during NFL coverage, to their wholly unnecessary invention of the “glowing puck” for ice hockey. Even down to the Murdoch empire’s so-called “news” organizations, the overarching ethos is clear: if you can’t be better, you can at least be louder.

One point of difference Fox could offer was an American voice. ESPN’s reliance on British commentators to broadcast the World Cup to an American audience was a small fly in the ointment to some viewers. Despite the quality work done by the Ian Darkes and Jon Champions, there is something to be said for hearing a familiar accent.

So, there were the rather simple requirements Fox looked for on an application: be different, shout louder, speak American.

Enter Gus Johnson.

Gus Johnson is best known to American audiences for his work on college basketball, where his energy and excitement mesh well with the typically boisterous atmosphere. His over-the-top shouting made exciting games memorable, his myriad catchphrases launched a thousand soundboards online, and his proclivity to laughter when words would not suffice made him seem personable, like a friend seated on the sofa or the barstool right next to you. But Johnson is also a professional, working tirelessly to know the ins and outs, all the personalities and storylines needed to keep the action fresh and relatable.

Johnson was a late comer, as most Americans are, to soccer, but did fall in love with it just as the rest of us have. So it seemed a solid, Murdochian choice, to anoint Johnson the future voice of soccer in America. Fox Sports did this well in advance of the big stage, letting Johnson call UEFA Champions League games to get his feet wet.

How Gus Johnson performed while under his learner’s permit is up for debate. There were times when he seemed a bit too reliant on his notes, cramming in stats about each team’s history in the tournament. Some of his terminology from basketball came with him into soccer. His natural bombast for the big moments simply never could shine through in a terse continental tournament game. But he was prepared, was engaged, was learning and steadily improving, and when the ball crossed the line Johnson could crank up the volume with the best of them and make even a scruffy goal sound like a work of sheer beauty. And remember, for all the criticisms, Johnson was being given better than five years to work off the rough spots and be ready for Russia 2018.

So it came as a surprise this week when Fox announced that Johnson had stepped down from his role as number one soccer broadcaster. Outwardly, the decision was due to schedule conflicts with other sports and Johnson’s desire to be with his family more. But even the honchos at Fox were forced to admit that they had heard the criticisms of Johnson’s style, not that those necessarily had anything to do with the change.

And so, many people, many of the same people who had been hammering on about the need of American play-by-play men over the summer, took to social media and thanked God, or even used this as proof of the existence of a supreme being, that Gus Johnson was out as the go-to voice for the big matches, improvement and time be damned.

In short, the people were given exactly what they asked for, and they didn’t want it. The entitled American soccer fan wants an American voice on their games, but demands that it be one that came rocketing out of the womb fully-formed, able to name every FA Cup winner since the dawn of time. And we want him now, right now, Veruca Salt standing on the Eggdicator, don’t care how, I want it now, now. But, of course, don’t forget what happened to her. She was a bad egg.

This is the state of American soccer in the year 2014. The sport has a foothold in this country, and now that we’ve got it, we want to take our new toy out and see what it can do and how we can go about putting our larger stamp on it. Magical disappearing spray for free kicks? We were among the early adopters here in the States, and it’s now catching on the world over. Goalline technology? That’s a really fancy way of saying “instant replay”, and we’ve been doing that in our sports basically since the invention of cameras. And don’t act surprised when actual instant replay comes to town and there are reviews on fouls. We’re going to American that part of the game up too. Enjoy Mourinho throwing a challenge flag. What about the idea of a penalty box for infractions somewhere between a yellow and a red card? No less an authority than chewing-gum-and-wristwatch enthusiast Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken up recently about a sin bin. Hopefully, instead of an “orange card” the referee can pull a tiny American flag out of his pocket and wave that around. Soon you’ll see a glowing ball and a dancing robot and monster trucks circling the field during a World Cup final because America. We simply can’t help ourselves. We are cursed to ruin the things we love.

It’s hard not to be happy for Gus Johnson. He’ll still be doing what he loves, get to spend time with his family, call an occasional soccer game from time to time without the pressure of being The Guy. Moreover, he will no longer be subject to the table-pounding criticisms of an American public that wants filet mignon quality in hamburger time. And maybe, just maybe, by the time we chew up and spit out a few more JP Dellacameras or Steve Cangialosis, Gus will come back and be the commentator we so richly deserve.


Saturday September 20: New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders – Just four (guaranteed) home games to go for New York to make hay and get into the playoffs. Seattle will come into this game off of the US Open Cup final on Tuesday, while New York has CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday. Late season, short rest, tired body MLS excitement! Join the Empire Supporters Club at El Pastor (570 Market St. Newark) for the pre- and post-game falderal.

‘Mads’ And Cosmos Begin To Surge

madsstokkelienBy Cesar Trelles

There are seven weeks left in the 2014 NASL Fall campaign for the New York Cosmos. After a slow and frustrating start to the season, the New York Cosmos are startingto play the way their head Coach Giovanni Savarese had envisioned.

Following a scoring drought at home this  fall season, the Cosmos have scored five goals in their last two matches. Three of those goals came this past Saturday when the Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks on a rainy night at Shuart Stadium.

“We are very content in the development that we have had these past few weeks. We hope now that we can carry that onto this weekend,” commented Savarese on Tuesday during his midweek conference call with the media.

The three points that the Cosmos earned against Atlanta last Saturday were especially important since the fall league leaders, the San Antonio Scorpions, lost their match this past Saturday against the Carolina Railhawks. The victory catapulted the Cosmos into 4th place in the NASL with only 6 points now between them and the Scorpions.

The Cosmos have also seen a resurgence in striker Mads Stokkelien as he has now scored for the Cosmos in three of their last four matches. This past Saturday he scored just 38 seconds into the match. Queens, New York native Sebastian Guenzatti also scored again for the Cosmos when he received a brilliant pass from another Queens, NY native David Diosa. Danny Szetela however had the biggest goal in the match when he tucked the ball into the lower left hand corner of the net in the 84th minute to give the Cosmos the 3-2 lead that would stand as the final score.

ProstThe goals couldn’t have started flowing at a better time for the Cosmos as they are traveling to Carolina this weekend to play the Railhawks right after they toppled the league leading San Antonio Scorpions. The Cosmos have been unable to win in Carolina in their two matches there since their reboot. In fact they have failed to score any goals there as they were shutout 1-0 earlier this year and 3-0 last August during the Fall 2013 campaign. The task for Savarese is to turn those fortunes around this weekend.

“We know that Carolina gets stronger when they have to play the New York Cosmos,” he admitted.
“They have beaten us twice in Carolina exactly the same way. So we have to make sure that we are a little smarter and the more mature team and that they are not able to find their own balance when we attack. I think we have grown as a team so we have more resources going forward. I think it’s going to be a completely different match, at least from our standpoint going into this game right now.”

There is no question that if the Cosmos are to have success in Carolina they will expect Mads Stokkelien to rise to the occasion once again. Coach Savarese was quick to not only praise Stokkelien but also Danny Mwanga for their recent play.

“I think first of all when a striker gets his confidence back and strikers go on a streak of scoring goals, things always become better and easier.

“But I think also we have introduced Danny Mwanga into the linuep and he has helped us to be a more dangerous team and also for oppositions to focus on not just one player but now we have another player that teams now need to be aware of in the defensive area. I think also tactically there are some things that we have changed that I think have added some extra support to Mads and that allows him to be the player that we know he can be – which is more lethal around the box.  So we have seen him improve and become more confident so that he can score more goals.”

Confidence will be a vital component for the Cosmos if they are to finish the season on top. Of the last seven matches remaining for the Cosmos, the final three will be against the three teams that are currently ahead of them in the standings: Minnesota, Tampa Bay and San Antonio. Before that, the Cosmos would love to get as many of the twelve points that are up for grabs ahead of those three matches, starting this Saturday night against Carolina.

Cross Island Crew Tidbits:.
•    Jimmy Maurer, Ayoze and Andres Flores will all be back an available for the New York Cosmos this Saturday against the Carolina Railhawks. Maurer was unavailable last week due to a finger injury. Ayoze was unavailable last match due to yellow card accumulation. Flores returns to the Cosmos after playing with El Salvador in the Copa Centroamericana.

• The New York Red Bulls have recalled defender Connor Lade from his loan to the Cosmos. The Red Bulls have had numerous injuries and need Lade back for depth purposes as they will also be embarking on two CONCACAF Champions League matches (CCL). It is expected that after those two CCL matches, Lade will be returning to the Cosmos for the remainder of the season.

• The Cross Island Crew, will be hosting their regular viewing party at Prost Grill & Garten (652 Franklin Avenue, Garden City, NY) this Saturday (9/20_when the Cosmos battle the Carolina Railhawks. Beer and food specials will be available throughout the night.
• On Sunday September 28th there will be a special away viewing party at Prost Grill when the Cosmos take on FC Edmonton. Gametime is 4pm. Prior to the match however Cosmos COO Erik Stover along with Cosmos Director of Marketing Rafael Morffi will be hosting a Q&A session at Prost. Cosmos fans will have an opportunity to come on down and ask the Cosmos head honchos anything that might be on their mind. Q&A is expected to start at 3pm.

• Supporters Scarves are available Cross Island Crew Supporters Scarves are available for sale for $20. For information email crossislandcrew@gmail.com or visit www.crossislandcrew.com

College Soccer – The Bully Factor

stay-strong-and-stop-bullying-257x300By Pat Glodkowski

In a perfect college soccer world all we would have to deal with are the scores, the support, and passion that comes from the game. Unfortunately, in this world, even in the seemingly disconnected soccer world, we have to understand the existence of detrimental effects resulting from bullying.

Oftentimes, people treat soccer as a recluse  from the activities surrounding them in the real world. Soccer offers a place of escape for all, as the game ensnares its onlookers into a different atmosphere. Yet, that does not mean that we are shielded from all the evils that surround this small, temporary bubble that is lifted after the final whistle. Horrible things such as bullying often permeate, sadly, into the soccer life. Bullying is a serious matter that plagues this country, especially in the realm of education where students interact and often engage in bullying (knowingly or not). As students grow older, they tend to cast aside such acts. Some come to terms with the fact that it was a serious mistake to partake in bullying and have corrected their actions and mentality. Nonetheless, that process is more idealistic than realistic.

The unfortunate reality of the situation regarding bullying is that many other students carry on with their derisive acts into high school, and even college. Their methods become more refined and intricate the older the students get. College sports are deplorably involved with many allegations of abuse and bullying on the teams. Sometimes the coach perpetrates the bullying on the whole team, sometimes a single player. Another case would be if a group of teammates start to gang up and single out an individual player for whatever reason.

A handful of cases have been released regarding the matter. The most recent case to reach the public originated from the Clemson women’s soccer program. The incident happened back in 2011, but the lawsuit was only filed this past month. Haley Ellen Hunt is now formally suing her coach at the time, Eddie Radwanski, assistant coaches Siri Mullinix and Jeff Robbins, former Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips, several other school administrators, and 14 of her teammates for the abuse she received during her hazing. Hunt, along with some fellow teammates were blindfolded, put into a car and then had to do a handful of degrading acts. One of the acts caused her to suffer a brain injury, which ultimately led to her leaving the sport.

The whole incident is particularly gut-wrenching. The phrasing found in the law suit would strike at the heart of any bystander as the young soccer player was not only bleeding from her head after hitting the wall that caused the brain trauma, she was also never taken to the hospital after she slipped into unconsciousness. To make it worse, the authorities were never contacted, and Assistant Coach Siri Mullinix allegedly told the players to keep quiet about the situation. Head Coach Radwanski affirmed this command. In fact, Radwanski supposedly also had the hazing levels increased, telling Hunt to “stop complaining.”

This intense treatment of a player is deplorable at best, criminal at worst. However, because the proper channels were not tapped into, and because the school somewhat took matters into their own hands, this case may only reach civil court, rather than criminal court. Hunt’s legal representative Robert E. Summer will assume the responsibility for bringing justice for his client. He will create an argument around the fact that Coach Radwanski had actually tried to dissuade Ms. Hunt from attending  Clemson. After ignoring the coach’s opinion (or whatever you want to call it), Hunt proceeded to enroll at Clemson and join the team.

As comments proceeded to file in regarding the night in question, apparently most of the hazing rituals are “mandatory team events.” To some extent, I personally understand the value of team building exercises without the presence of the coaches. However, two very critical facts in this case make their acts inexcusable. First, the team was completely immature, naïve, and down right cruel to watch their comrade take a direct hit to the head and fail to respond appropriately. As a student athlete myself, I know those students received proper and more than sufficient education regarding head injuries and their possible long term side-effects to leaving it untreated. These girls should have acted like leaders and teammates. Instead, they shrugged their duties and worried more about potential punishments rather than helping their new teammate.

Second, the coaches are very much at fault. They have a duty to maintain the safety and well-being of their student athletes. Should the allegations of the cover up prove to be true, it would be a massive disgrace to Clemson and their soccer program. The coaches abetted in this hazing process and neglected a noticeable head injury, which the lawsuit correctly asserts that long-term consequences will arise from the lack of treatment. If they end up being found guilty, the coaches must be stripped of their coaching licenses, and permanently banned from future coaching positions. This dishonorable and shocking manner of dealing with the situation makes them unworthy of leadership roles.

This case in particular is horrifying. Not only did the teammates not help Ms. Hunt, the coaches covered it up as well. Moreover, the school seems to have taken a very defensive stance, suggesting some sort of involvement in the matter. SB Nation reported that FitNews and GreenvilleOnline, the news sources that first covered this lawsuit, requested further information and insight from the school and they were immediately deflected, and told to speak with the school’s attorneys.

I would like to say this article is not meant to bash the Clemson soccer program. The purpose is to bring to light that bullying is conducted even among teammates, one of the few havens that should be a place of rest and not restlessness. Fear of injury by other teammates is detrimental to the psychology, and therefore performance of the players. Another student by the name of Hunter Peel also testifies (not in this lawsuit) that during her time on Cisco College’s soccer team, she was abused so badly she had to stop playing. That already is depressing enough, but to make matters worse, she left the main campus as well. Her teammates tweeted profane comments that could ruin anyone’s emotional psyche. Here again, the coach did little to stop the bullying (however, he luckily did not accentuate the matter, either).

Bullying, and the manner which schools deal with it, along with other heinous transgressions, must be reviewed and revamped. Initiatives will have to be executed by the administrators and the athletes to help deter bullies. Another South Carolina school, The College of Charleston held a ‘Stands Against Bullying” day in 2012. The men’s soccer team their as well as Coach Ralph Lundy travelled to middle schools and met with young students to discuss the bullying situation in this country. A noble effort. It also was a good way to rub some salt in Clemson’s face, considering their athletic relationship.

More schools should employ methods such as the one enacted by Charleston’s team to help raise awareness about bullying and to weed it out of our culture. A long and difficult process, but it can gradually be done. It can start with Ms. Hunt’s case. Those involved must be punished. Only then will their be a precedent involving the severe consequences of continuing to bully players.

A few announcements pertaining to college soccer: first, the NYU homecoming game for men’s soccer is October 4th, Saturday at 11 am. This will be the first conference game, against Rochester University. The game will be played at Gaelic Park right off the 238th St. stop in the Bronx. It would mean the world to these players if more fans came out. You will be able to see me, along with the ESC@NYU crowd. You will also get a chance to meet Empire Supporters Club (ESC) members, as well as support your local soccer team. Second, New York Red Bulls is having College Night for the game against Seattle, where you will definitely find me, and my band of NYU supporters.

NYAC Stun Champions

cosmoyellowBy Jay Mwamba

In an early season clash between the defending CSL champions and their predecessors, titlists Lansdowne Bhoys succumbed 3-2 to New York Athletic Club [NYAC] at Tibbetts Brook Park lastSaturday night.

Former champs NYAC, six of whose seven titles came under then Irish coach  Ronan Downs, stunned the Yonkers Irishmen with two early goals through Bayo Adafin and Leo Gomez.

Lansdowne fought back to level courtesy of debutant Mohamed Kaba’s brace. But disaster struck for the Bhoys 15 minutes from time when Mike Valencia snatched the NYAC winner.

“We fought up to the end for a goal,” said Paul Doherty, whose side is now 1-1 after two games.

The curtain raiser went true to form as reserve champs NYAC ‘B’ run off 7-2 winners New signings Fahad Alshamson and Eden Spinks accounted for five of the goals.

“Suffice it to say that Lansdowne were game but couldn’t hang with us in the second half,” remarked coach Bill Saporito.

New York Greek Americans gave Stal Mielec a glimpse of their U.S. amateur championship form in a 7-0 rout at the Metropolitan Oval.

Christopher Megaloudis [two], Ben Marcu [two], Keith Detelj, Stephan Bares and Kene Eze connected for the reigning USASA kings.

“Kene’s goal was a goal of the season candidate,” noted coach Stavros Zomopoulis before describing the superb solo effort.

“Stranded for most of the half, he came 15 yards in our half to pick up a ball from the left back, turned, beat his marker, beat the entire Stal midfield, out [paced] the entire defense and went one-on-one with the keeper [before] slotting to the far post — 70 yards, eight opponents beaten!”

Jacek Korba and Waldemar Pyryt handed Stal’s reserves a 2-0 win.

Pancyprian Freedoms, the other Hellenic club in the CSL top flight, needed an own goal and a Pete Halkidis strike to edge Central Park Rangers 2-1 at Icahn Stadium.

Conor O’Donoghue scored from the spot for CPR after a foul on Damian Lopez.
The result reversed the outcome in the reserve game won 2-1 by CPR on goals by Mike DeChristopher and Chris Norelli. Ben Hirsch and Greg Moss, respectively, provided the assists. Nicholas Psaras was the Pancyprian scorer.

Moriken Sangary and Bljerdi Bardic [two] were on target in Clarkstown Eagles’ 3-0 swoop over Manhattan Celtic on Randalls Island.

Celtic’s 23 year-old coach Matt Kane started the same 11 players for both fixtures, with his reserves prevailing 4-1.

“We had some of the worst luck the club had ever seen with 25 players being unavailable or injured for the game,” lamented the Belfastman.

His seconds trailed early but hit back through Herve Diese, Pat Kelly, Charlie Grover and Joe Cooper.

Adam Himeno was on target for United FC in a 1-1 tie with New York Croatia in Boonton, N.J.

United’s second unit prevailed 4-2 on goals by Andrey Serebryannik, Pavlo Kolonifa [two] and Timur Nadarbaev.

Also in the First Division, NYC Rovers thrashed Hoboken FC 5-0 at Laurel Hill Park. The Rovers reserves were equally emphatic in a 6-1 rout.

Shamrock went on another scoring spree in the Second Division, pasting FC Japan 5-0 on Randalls Island to go top of the table.

New boys Leo Nizzi and Mohamed Fofana each hit a brace while Brendan Lane, last season’s top goal scorer, accounted for the other goal. The Rocks crushed CD Iberia 5-3 the previous week.

Shamrock’s reserves thrashed Japan’s second unit 7-0 in the curtain raiser. John Riordan, Leandro Fregossi, Jim Wong, Paul McDaid [two] and Dan Meola connected.

clip_image002[2]FIVE-STAR PRAWDZIK
MVP Lukasz Prawdzik banged in four of his five goals on the day in the New York Ukrainian first team’s 5-2 drubbing of New Amsterdam United on Randalls Island.

Steve Kovalenko’s side made a whirlwind start and led 3-0 after five minutes, David Alkasimi [1st] and Prawdzik [4th, 5th] putting the Dutch to the sword early.  Prawdzik struck three more times [25th, 55th, 63rd] before Alkasimi iced it [70th].

Ukrainians’ Adam Maliniak could even afford to miss a penalty kick [49th].

Daniel Friedwald and Andrew Dickler [penalty] replied for Amsterdam.

Prawdzik had warmed up earlier in the opener by netting in the Ukrainian reserves’ 4-1 victory. Iurii Vovk, Nazar  Zarichnyy and Vitaliy Firsov also tallied.

Nick Bill and Tommy Herlihy scripted relegated Manhattan Kickers’ first win in Division Two, 2-0 at the expense of promoted Sporting Astoria at East River Park.

“Tough, tough loss!” griped Astoria boss Ed Romero, who left the East Side talking of another “round two curse.”

His reserves had a better outing. They bounced back from the previous week’s 5-1 blowout against Ukrainians to hammer Kickers “B” 5-1. Mohammed Jalloh [two], Abu Jalloh, Christian Valencia and Johan Quinde led the charge. Sasha Gamzatov got Kickers’ face-saver.

On Randalls Island, Kevin Sales earned Doxa FC a point from a 1-1 draw with Division Two champions CD Iberia.

Jonathan Dasilva and Akay Nuredini snatched a 2-1 result for Doxa’s seconds.

CPR Reds came away from Tibbetts Brook Park with a 2-0 decision over Metro Div. One titlists Lansdowne Bhoys. Phil Zubkowicz and Lance Brune connected.

“A hard fought game that CPR controlled for [the] most with Lansdowne failing to capitalize on some good opportunities at the beginning of the second half, including one off the post,” summed up Blake Berg.

Konrad Sobotka and Piotr Silski secured full points for FC Gwardia in a 2-0 defeat of Mr. Dennehy’s at Bushwick Inlet.

In other Metro One action, Ridgewood edged old rivals Brishna 2-1, with a goal in each half by Emre Tetik [26th] and Catalin Ionita [73rd].

“Our goalkeeper Tomasso Martello and our defense deserve praise for this win,” said assistant coach Ovidiu Ordean.

Williamsburg International FC [formerly Doyle’s Corner FC] won by a cricket score [15-2] against Metro City Fury Athletic at Bushwick Inlet. This on a day when three of the games in Metro Div. Two produced a combined 39 goals.

Andreas Moudatsos [three], Benjamin Bryden [two], Esteban Garcia [two], Sergio Garcia [two], Dimitri Saad [two], Ryan Kampe, Fraser Campbell and Charles von Rosenberg went for the jugular against a City team that started with nine men.

Metro City finished with ten after a red card in the first half.

At the Greenbelt Recreational Center, Barnstonworth Rovers crushed FC Partizani 10-1.

Jorge Español [three], Aldo Morales [two], Joaquin Lynch [two], Brandon Rowley, Matt Donovan and Sergio Restrepo were on target.  Erjon Arapi had Partizani’s consolation.

Newcomers Huerto United were the other big winners in Metro Two. They blew out fellow CSL rookies NYFC Iliria 11-0 at Memorial Park.

Not to be outdone, Mola SC went on a scoring spree as well, mauling New York Galicia 6-2 on Randalls Island in another Metro Two goalfest.
Stefano Ingravallo [two], Sal Ingravallo, Vito Coldonato, Kanijah Lucien and Gianluca Palanca tallied.

Othman Lantir’s late leveler [73rd] earned NYC Metro Stars a 1-all tie with SC Eintracht at on Randalls Island.

The latter had led from the first half through George Villalta who was assisted by Victor Guaiquil.

New York Bravehearts, meanwhile, had goals from Clement Osbert and Guillermo Arbelaez in their 3-2 defeat by AO Brooklyn.

Gilad Bloom [65th] and Joe Whiteman [80th] secured a 2-0 win for Over-30 Div. One champs Manhattan Kickers over Greek Americans at Van Buren HS.

Kickers’ other Over-30 side drew 0-0 with CPR Old Boys.

Barnstonworth Premier, who beat Kickers Premier on opening day, massacred BW Gottschee 8-2.

Mike Butler [two], Emin Avasar [two], Nedgy Nazon, Shaka Hinds, Nasan Fitz-Henley and Errol Mcfarlane scored.

Paddy McCarry’s Shamrock cruised past Barnstonworth Old Boys 2-0 in their delayed season opener.

Alex Berne [35th], from Johnny Llangari, and former Golden Gloves boxer
Tomas Maher [44th], from Keith Buckley, connected.

“A good team performance. [We] were organized and very solid at the back,” said McCarry.

Celtic’s Over-30s enjoyed mixed fortunes in Week Two.  Gareth Hasson scored in the Celtic Bhoys’ 1-0 decision over Hoboken, while the Celtic Legends were mauled 5-0 by CPR Grays.

Nieuw Amsterdam saw off NYPD FC 3-0 in an Over-30 Div. Two fixture at Flushing Meadow. Josh Salsi and Louis Pacilio [two] did the damage.

And in the CSL’s new Over-35 division, SC Eintracht made it two wins out of two with a 3-0 romp at CPR Legends’ expense.

Olimpiu Roman, Andres Garcia and Dani Ceabuca did the honors.

Fans Win The Day As Brazil Beat Ecuador


First Touch ticket competition winner Dominik Przybylo enjoys the game with his nephew

First Touch ticket competition winner Dominik Przybylo enjoys the game with his nephew

By Maria Xing

It is no secret that interest in soccer is growing exponentially in the United States. Take, for example, the Brazil v Ecuador match last week. Despite being ona Tuesday night, there were a solid 40,000 fans in attendance watching their beloved Selecao or La Tricolor.

Brazil’s previous match against Colombia at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami set a new record in the state of Florida, with 73,429 fans. It was the fourth largest crowd for a soccer match in the US in 2014, behind Manchester United v Real Madrid (109,318), LA Galaxy v Manchester United 986,432), and Mexico v Ecuador (84,876).

To provide some perspective, the World Cup final this year between Germany and Argentina recorded 74,738 in attendance. And Europe’s most “popular” club – Dortmund, measured by average match attendance, has around 80,297 filled seats per match. Who said Americans aren’t passionate about soccer?
Certainly not the teams visiting. Ecuador has played at least one game in the US every year since 1993 and in the New York area every year since 2001. Brazil has also made similar appearances. Judging from the fervent support of fans, it isn’t hard to blame them. On September 9th, 2014, seas of canary yellow drowned East Rutherford.

The parking lots outside the MetLife were filled with a special energy, the kind only precedes a soccer match. As the evening continued, fans flooded into the stadium and continued showing their passionate support through songs, chants, and of course, the wave.

Compared to the fans, however, the teams underperformed. Brazil looked a different side from their World Cup days, but more so physically than strategically. Coach Dunga only retained 10 out of the 23-man squad for Brazil’s “Global Tour” in the US. He brought on some fresh faces, such as Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Cruzeiro’s Everton Ribeiro, and gave the captain’s armband to Neymar.

Although big changes were made, Dunga stayed true to his defensive strategy – not too far of a deviation from his predecessor, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Still, Brazil managed to create a few chances against Ecuador. Neymar shot high twice, once on a free-kick. He provided the crucial pass for Willian to net the team’s only goal.

Ecuador’s best chance came in the second half, when an attempt by West Ham player Enner Valencia was deflected and cleared off the line. It looked a far cry from the team that had beaten Bolivia 4-0 earlier in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In short, not the best football match, but a great opportunity for fans to see their national team heroes up close and personal.

Cristiano Ronaldo Questions

keano1. On which island was Cristiano Ronaldo born?

2. At the age of 15, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that threatened to end his career. What was it?

3. At both World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, Ronaldo’s Portugal lost in the knockout stages to which nation?

4. About whom did Ronaldo say, “You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it’s a different engine. You cannot compare them.’?

5. To which Portuguese club did Ronaldo make his league debut?


Cristiano Ronaldo Answers

keano1. On which island was Cristiano Ronaldo born?


2. At the age of 15, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that threatened to end his career. What was it?

Tachycardia, a racing heart.

3. At both World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, Ronaldo’s Portugal lost in the knockout stages to which nation?


4. About whom did Ronaldo say, “You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it’s a different engine. You cannot compare them.’?

Lionel Messi

5. To which Portuguese club did Ronaldo make his league debut?

Sporting Lisbon

Cosmos Continue Unbeaten Streak With 3-2 Win vs Atlanta

mads-stokkelien-new-york-red-bulls-carousel_akn8fcc5lmly13wumh3uvrwchThe New York Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 on Saturday night at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, running their unbeaten streak to four matches. 

Forward Mads Stokkelien scored in the first minute of the match to put the Cosmos in the lead and winger Sebastian Guenzatti added another goal in the 9th minute.

The Silverbacks responded with goals in the 16th and 59th minutes before midfielder Danny Szetela scored the game-winning goal for the Cosmos in the 84th minute.


Here is the link to the match highlights courtesy of One World Sports and the New York Cosmos:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmmjOmo1PU0&list=UUJatqm1UKRksS9k7h9C9F8w


Also find the announcer wrap courtesy of One World Sports and the New York Cosmos:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au7aY5sYf-M&list=UUWks2mS2QezJFZyR739y15g

Cosmopolitan Soccer League Resumes With Win For Greek Americans

New York Greek Americans

New York Greek Americans

By Jay Mwamba

It was business as usual for New York Greek Americans on the opening weekend of the 2014/2015 CSL season. Crowned USASA men’s amateur champions in July, the Greeks thrashed Manhattan Celtic 5-2 at Pier 5 in Brooklyn last Sunday, in a replay of their Manning Cup final encounter three months ago.

The Greeks shutout the Celts 4-0 then and were equally imperious this time around.

“[The] first weekend of the season went as well as can be expected with many new faces in our squad,” said a content Stavros Zomopoulos, the Greek coach. “We had decent cohesion and played true to our style.”

His side went up after 12 minutes. Chris Megaloudis converting from the spot after Keith Detelj, back from a summer stint with USL-Pro Dayton, had won a penalty.

Celtic, however, replied in kind some minutes later when Matt Negus also converted a PK.

“We then took the lead for good through new boy Kene Eze [26th] before the goal of the day – by our new center back, Sylvain N’Guessan, made it three [55th],” said Zomopoulos.

Adrianno Gabrielle, one of the Greek goal heroes in the 4-2 USASA cup final victory over Guadalajara FC of Denver in Salt Lake City last July, got number four [65th]. Martin Williams, another debutant, then sealed it [80th].

To their credit, Celtic, coached by young Belfastman Matthew Kane, refused to roll over. Simon Kearney bagged a superb consolation goal.

“We conceded avoidable goals but the Greeks as always were good enough to capitalize. New signings will be in for next week and we will push on from here,” vowed the 23 year-old Kane.

His reserves made a fight of it before succumbing 3-2. They trailed 2-0 to goals by Walter Matiz and Ben Marcu when Francis Ellis first set up Barrie Taylor and then equalized himself.

However, Celtic hearts were broken on the stroke of full time when Jimmy Shalom notched the Greek winner.

“We have a lot of promising [reserves] that I am sure will play a bigger role with our firsts throughout the year,” remarked Zomopoulos.

Defending CSL champions Lansdowne Bhoys, meanwhile, came out with guns blazing on opening night in a 3-0 romp over United FC 3-0 at Tibbetts Brook Park.

Gareth McGlynn, debutant Mohamed Kaba and Conor Hunter scored in the rematch of last season’s First Division title playoff at the same ground.

The Bhoys triumphed 3-1 then and went on to rout Pancyprian Freedoms 4-0 in the championship match.

“Great performance against a well-organized United FC. Good to start the season with the win,” summed up player-coach Austin Friel.

In the curtain raiser, Lansdowne’s Carlos Abatte exchanged goals with United’s Uriy Gajev in a 1-1.

Yannick Reyering, Pancyprian Freedom’s German ace, got all the goals at Randalls Island where the Greek-Cypriots blanked Clarkstown Eagles 3-0.

Pancyprian’s reserves won by the same scoreline courtesy of Angelo Litourgis and Nicholas Psaras.

Josh Corpuz earned promotion side Hoboken FC a precious early point with his late leveler [83rd] in a 1-1 tie with former champs NYAC on Travers Island.

Now coached by Scotsman Joe Ruesgen [who recently retired after winning the USASA title with Greek Americans], the hosts had led from an own goal [32nd].

Said Hoboken GM Bill Marth: “NYAC had more possession and more chances, but [we] were able to escape with a draw in our first game back in top flight.”

Sam Omosuyi scored for Hoboken’s reserves who conceded twice in the dying minutes in a 4-1 collapse.

“The match was closer than the score indicates as it was 2-1 until the 88th minute,” said Marth.

Mike Stone’s hat trick propelled Shamrock to a 5-3 victory over Second Division champions CD Iberia at St. Michael’s Playground in Flushing.

This after Paul McDaid’s late winner had lifted the Shamrock reserves to a 2-1 decision over Iberia’s second unit.

Another promotion side, Ed Romero’s Sporting Astoria, went one better in their Second Division. They came from behind twice at Evander Childs High School to edge seasoned New York Ukrainians 3-2.

Astoria’s scoring duo of Damian Paz [17th] and Terrol Ishmael [29th] twice canceled out strikes by David Alkasimi and Joseph Betras, respectively, assisting each other. Then 15 minutes from time, Ishmael powered in a header from a corner to clinch full points.

“There’s a significant difference between the Metro One and Second Division. Had we not prepared ourselves our result would have been very different,” said Romero. “Ukrainians are a very good team. We beat a very good team. Had their finishing been a bit sharp, we would have easily lost. Fortunately a bit of luck was on our side.”

Ukrainian coach Steve Kovalenko rued the absence of several injured players.

His reserves were emphatic 5-1 winners against Astoria’s newly formed second unit – comprising players from last year’s Metro Div. One campaigners Queens United.

Lukasz Prawdzik [two], Nazar Zarichnny, Gleb  Mironenko and  Dimitri  Jacob scored for the Ukrainian reserves. Gabriel Munoz had the lone Astoria effort.

Relegated Manhattan Kickers’ first outing back in Division Two ended in a 1-1 draw with FC Japan at East River Park.

Rodney Laveau scored for Kickers, whose reserves succumbed 1-0.

At Van Buren High School, Ahmed Yansaneh was on target for Doxa FC in a 2-1 loss to Polonia.

Kurt Cameron and Michael Dramountanis were the Doxa marksmen in the reserves’ 2-2 tie.

Also in the Second Division, Collin Wynter and Nick Baum lifted NYPD FC
2-1 over New Amsterdam United at Laurel Hill Park Field in New Jersey.

Fabien Lombard was the Amsterdam scorer.

The opener ended 1-1 with Daniel Friedwald notching for the Dutch.

The campaign in Metro Div. One got off to storm of goals highlighted by the Central Park Rangers Reds’ 13-1 massacre of Missile FC on Randalls Island.

Timur Mone got the requisite hat trick; Paul Pivetau and Richie Kavanagh each added a brace while Blake Berg, Alberto Riego, Hendo DeRuiter, Chris Valentine, Felipe Lima and Johnny Williamson had one apiece.

“We really came out hard from the start and never slowed down,” said Berg.

Later at Bushwick Inlet, Gwardia had four goals apiece from Konrad Sobotka and Marciin Januszko in a 12-3 drubbing of Dynamo SC.

Maciej Kuczerski [two], Bartlomiej Stolarczyk and Wojciech Targonski also got on the score sheet.

Not to be outdone by the scoring spree in Metro One, champions Lansdowne Bhoys routed promotion side Brishna 5-0 at Tibbetts Brook Park.

Keith Power [three], Richie Morgan and Johnny McGeeney tallied.

Despite winning the CSL’s de facto third division last season, the Marty Griffin-coached Metro side spurned promotion to the Second Division.

Williamsburg International FC, formerly Doyle’s Corner FC, produced a dramatic late flurry to subdue FC Partizan 5-2 in a Metro Div. Two fixture at Bushwick Inlet.

Charles von Rosenberg had the only goal in the first half and a blowout appeared in the making when Steven Stone extended the lead on resumption.  But Elton Lalaj, Partizani’s top scorer last season with 17 goals, struck twice to tie the game with five minutes left.
Lo and behold, Nunzio Moudatsos, his brother Andreas Moudatsos and newcomer Sergio Garcia blew Partizani away on the stroke of full time.

New-look NYC Metro Stars eclipsed rookie side NYFC Iliria 4-1 on Randalls Island.

John Guengueng [27th], captain Desire Nizigama [53rd], debuting striker Othman Lantir [74th] and Elmer Batres [82nd] connected.

Metro Stars manager Edison Calle said 90 percent of his squad was new.

Barnstonworth Premier pipped champions Kickers Premier 3-2 on Randalls Island to claim the early bragging rights between the two namesake clubs in Over-30 Division One.

Kickers’ former Bosnian international Izzy Arslanovic [25th] pegged back Shaka Hinds’ [15th] opener after which Mike Butler [55th] put Barnstonworth ahead. A tie appeared on the cards when veteran Kicker Richie Webb [65th] equalized, but Butler nicked it for Barnstonworth 13 minutes from time.

At Van Buren High School, Kickers Over-30s saw off Greek Americans 2-0 thanks to Paul Cowler [30th] and John Slover [70th]. Colin Brown had both assists.

“MVP [went] to Big Mike Schall for his shut out in goal, filling in for regular keeper Raj who broke his hand [earlier in the week], and honorable mentions to “Sir” Kevin Chillingsworth and Jorge Stratmann for marshaling an impenetrable defense,” said Eddie Yee Woo Guo.

Elsewhere in the Over-30 top flight, Manhattan Celtic Legends edged Barnstonworth Rovers Old Boys 3-2.

Simon Née teed up Gorleigh Willis for Legends’ first before David Harvey and Addison Quale connected off assists by Tyrone Kent and Eugene Gormley, respectively.

In Over-30 Div. Two, Hoboken FC silenced visiting Brooklyn Gunners 4-1 at Sinatra Park.

Eoghan O’Dwyer gave the hosts a first half lead. Five minutes after the interval, Kerr Hall scored on a counter attack, then Christoph Etim made it 3-0.

Gunners pulled one back with 20 minutes remaining, but Tom Ahn restored the three-goal cusion with a superb volley.

“Gunners had several good shots on goal, however newly acquired Italian star
Antonio Ferragonio made some remarkable saves,” said Jason Simmons.

Ronnie Swinkels, Victor Hermosillo, Reza Watts and James Carrico tallied for Nieuw Amsterdam in their 4-1 defeat of NYPD FC at Flushing Field.

Cosmos Find Winning Touch At Home

cosmoscelebrasteBy Cesar Trelles 

The New York Cosmos finally found the back of the net at home this past Saturday and in turn, it helped them secure a victory and three points. A 2-0 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers was just what the Cosmos needed.

“We’re very happy about this past game but we are already focusing on this week’s game against Atlanta”, commented Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese on Tuesday.

The victory moved the Cosmos up to fifth place in the fall NASL standings, however they still trail league leading San Antonio Scorpions by nine points. Fortunately for the Cosmos they continue to control third place in the combined NASL table as they currently have thirty two points followed by Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale who have twenty six and twenty five points resepectively.

During Saturday’s match, new Cosmos signing Danny Mwanga, who is on loan from the Colorado Rapids, scored his first goal for the team in the 17th minute when he was able to finish off a nice pass from defender Carlos Mendes. Shortly thereafter, Mwanga was part of a play that almost saw another goal scored when he received the ball from Mads Stokkelien and he quickly passed it to Sebastian Guenzatti near the box but Guenzatti’s shot went high of the net.

Later in the first half in the 28th minute, the Strikers were called for a handball in the penalty area that resulted in a Cosmos penalty. This provided an opportunity for Marcos Senna to step to the spot and he was able to nail the shot to give the Cosmos a 2-0 lead. The goal was sweet redemption for Senna who had missed a penalty kick several weeks ago at home.

“We got the three points that we needed more than anything else,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese following the game.

“We scored two goals in the first half. We were able to manage the game much better this time than last game, and I think that was the big difference. I’m very pleased with the performance of the players.”

Danny Mwanga was able to score his first goal in only his first game on Cosmos home turf.

“I think it was a great team effort, and the big difference in this game was that we were able to manage the game a lot better,” said Mwanga after the match. “Last game, we got two goals and gave the lead away [against Indy]. We watched video, and learned from our mistakes. We were very focused and tuned in to try and close the game out.”

Up next for the Cosmos will be another home match. The Atlanta Silverbacks will be coming into town this Saturday with the game time set for 7:00pm. On Saturday, the Cosmos will be celebrating Heroes Night as well, a salute to all military as well as local police fire and other first responders.

Cross Island Crew Tidbits:.

• Danny Mwanga and Carlos Mendes were named to the NASL Team of the week for week 9 of the NASL Fall Season.

• Supporters Scarves are available Cross Island Crew Supporters Scarves are available for sale for $20. For information email crossislandcrew@gmail.com or visit www.crossislandcrew.com

The View From 101

esclogoBy Tim Hall

Thierry Henry scored what ultimately proved to be the game-winner for New York in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. It was a magnificent goal, with the Frenchman coolly controlling the ball just outside the area, working the defender for space and blasting a shot into the top corner. Should the Red Bulls go on to make the playoffs this season, that will surely be viewed as one of the bigger moments to get them there.

After the game, questions started to be asked. It takes a certain high level of talent for a wonderful goal to ask more questions than it answers. The first, somewhat ridiculously asked by the people at Major League Soccer’s in-house media arm, was if it was Henry’s greatest goal in New York. Let us stipulate that it was a fine team goal, with the ball being worked methodically up from goalkeeper Luis Robles, solid passing and movement of both ball and players, and that the strike from Henry was befitting a player of his resume. But he does not get to take credit for all of that movement, all of that passing. That one goal on a steamy Saturday night does not even get to crack into the top five of Thierry’s goals in the red-and-white, not when stacked up against the Olimpico, or the bicycle, or the volleys.

There are, of course, larger questions that have surrounded Thierry Henry lately. The big one started to pick up steam this spring and became a more persistent drumbeat as the summer wore on: is this it? Is this Thierry’s last season in New York? Despite all he’s said about loving the anonymity of walking down the streets of Manhattan and not being mobbed the way he would be in London or beyond, and all of the basketball games and tennis tournaments where he can see and be seen that New York City affords him, could he be walking away?

What would that mean for New York? If Thierry Henry goes, does that also signal Tim Cahill’s move back to the EPL, or would it make the Australian more likely to stay knowing he would become, by default, the biggest star on the team? What of Bradley Wright-Philips, the leader of the MLS golden boot race? While some are a bit too quick to give Henry credit for BWP’s scoring outburst this season, there can be little doubt of the benefits the Brit has been receiving from TH14.

If, indeed, Henry leaves New York, as does Cahill, that would leave New York without much in the way of star power, at least to the casual observer. Would this necessarily mean that Red Bull was ceding territory to the new NYCFC franchise starting play next season? Would RBNY look to retool and bring in some other international big-ticket superstar, or would they follow the more sustainable and successful MLS model laid out by teams like Real Salt Lake, which have depended on American talent, their own academy, and a smattering of higher-though-not-quite-high priced signings to build perennial contenders?

What could such a shift mean for the future of the team as it is presently constructed? Recall that this unit, plus-or-minus a few pieces, is mostly the one that went out and won the regular season title a year ago. With the lack of that “gosh, it’s ever so much fun playing with Thierry Henry” draw, would some of these core players look to leave? Would Mike Petke, still only on his second year of managing, be trusted in any way to rebuild this team from scratch in his own image?

One commentator during a Red Bulls match recently pointed out that Thierry Henry has won everything put in front of him during his time as a professional – Ligue 1, EPL, La Liga, Champions League, Euros, World Cup, Club World Cup – except for an MLS Cup. That’s a bit like you or I saying that we’ve lived a good life – plenty of friends, loving family, innumerable memories, a positive impact on all those around you – but the one thing that keeps us up at night is never winning the lottery.

But if the Frenchman is about ready to pull up stakes and ride off into the sunset without winning MLS Cup, does that change how we will look at him here in New York? He doesn’t play with the same raw tenacity or lunacy as a Clint Mathis, or even his current boss Mike Petke. He doesn’t have that same quiet humility as a Juan Pablo Angel, and barring an almighty onslaught of goals, would end up behind the Cherubic Colombian on the all-time goal scoring list. Certainly Henry is respected, admired, and loved. His skill, flair and ability can never be overstated. Being the captain during the team’s most successful season ever will ensure Henry’s legacy in Metro lore forever, but does he crack the top spot in the hearts of fans if his legacy were to end with another first-round playoff exit? What does that say about Thierry Henry, and what does it say about us, that he could have a statue of himself outside the Emirates and not even be on the theoretical Mount Rushmore in Harrison, New Jersey?

Could it be bigger than that? Thierry Henry is 37, he’s just celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first professional appearance. While he could certainly be a dangerous, terrifying weapon for any team in Europe – for Champions League, domestic tournaments, a spot start, a super sub – even the Frenchman himself must admit that his days as an automatic, every game starter must mathematically be coming to an end. Is Henry willing to accept that? Can he stand that, or would he bow out gracefully rather than sit on the bench waiting for his number to be called? Could it be that it won’t just be New York fans that are about to be without his brilliance, but Arsenal, Barcelona, and everyone else?

How do we then view Thierry Henry, when we have to see him in total and compare all of his works to those that have come before him? Is he the best ever? Probably not. One of the best, certainly. Perhaps the best of his generation. Is that enough? And isn’t that just a bit strange that a man can be on the shortlist, included in the discussion, an outside candidate for the Greatest Player of All, and still we have to ask if that’s enough?

That is the greatness of Thierry Henry. That he could score a great goal, not his greatest, but a great goal, a pure and beautiful stamp on a must-win game for a desperate team, and still leave us asking questions.


Saturday, September 13th: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union – It’s the shortest road trip of the year, just an hour-and-a-half drive south to Chester, Pennsylvania, the only town on the Delaware River that makes Camden, New Jersey look good. Join the Empire Supporters Club for this big Easter Conference matchup at The Football Factory (6 W 33rd St. Manhattan) from 3pm.

Interference Matters

bowlerBy Bill Thomas 

It’s election time again. You can tell it is because Sepp Blatter is busy making promises and not to the people who are going to throw blank cheques at him – that comes later, once he’s won, and awards the 2026 World Cup to google for services rendered, a competition that will be won and lost by the number of youtube clickthroughs each nation can generate over 90 minutes, a process that will be cheerled by film of their respective national heads of state juggling lemons while trying to kick a football through the mouth of an elephant. You read it here first folks…

First of all, even though there seems little prospect of a credible challenger emerging to take on Blatter in next year’s FIFA elections, he still needs to try to detox his poisonous reputation with the wider footballing audience. He loves to paint himself as a man of destiny. “A mission is never finished. My mission goes on,” declared the near octogenarian in a speech that made him sound like a transgender Celine Dion tribute act. That’s not really going to wash is it?

So instead, he grabs for a populist measure, suggesting that FIFA should trial the idea of TV referrals on contentious decisions. Essentially, as in sports such as tennis or cricket, each team will have the right to challenge a refereeing decision, perhaps once or twice in each half of a game. So if a penalty has been awarded against you, the coach can call for TV evidence from the TV companies and, potentially, have the decision overruled.

You can see why the aged scoundrel has come up with it, because on the face of it, it will add to the spectacle. Imagine Manchester United versus Crystal Palace on the last day of the season for instance, United needing a win to clinch a Champions League place. Two minutes from the end, United win a penalty as Ashley Young – why is it always him? – incurs third degree burns to his knees as he skids across the turf under, perhaps, a challenge. Wayne Rooney picks up the ball and a place in Europe’s elite beckons.

But what’s this? Coming swishing down the line, like some silent movie villain, why, it’s Neil Warnock, dressed in a billowing cape, twirling the ends of his devilish moustache twixt his fingers. In front of Louis van Gaal, he throws down a gauntlet and cries, “I challenge thee sir!”

Howard Webb, in his new role as host of “Goal or No Goal”, looks aghast at the possibility that he might have to deny Manchester United a late winner, but duty bound, he calls Andre Marriner – why is it always him? – across and together, they scrutinise the footage.

Moments later comes the answer. No penalty! Old Trafford erupts, but not in a good way. Van Gaal throws back his head and emits a never ending rumbling growl, like a bear that’s just eaten Leonard Cohen. In his rage, he turns, rips the head off Fred the Red and inserts it in a place that ensures Ryan Giggs will not trouble the seat of a chair for some time.

Actually, on such a basis, I’m beginning to reconsider my objections because I quite fancy watching that. But no, hold on to those principles, they’re all we have left. Football is not a game like cricket or tennis, which is made up of lots of individual, discrete events. Football flows, it rages from end to end, sometimes anyway. It does not lend itself to being stopped and started all the time.

For example, just twist that scenario a little. Young falls down, the referee is unimpressed, Palace get the ball and, three kicks of the beautiful game later, David de Gea is picking the ball out of the net. 1-0 to Palace. Only now, Van Gaal is beckoning Howard Webb over and with a gleaming smile to go with his head, the official switches the telly on, calls Marriner over and they conclude that Young was actually fouled. Penalty to Manchester United.

Of course, the overriding argument for bringing in such technology is that the right decision is made in the end, even if it means a two goal swing inside 30 seconds and the potential chaos that might ensue. But first of all, will it? How often have you looked at the same piece of footage in the company of others and found that you come to conflicting views on a decision? How often have we seen a panel of pundits argue over the merits of a penalty having seen it slowed down from 15 different angles? And how is there justice if you are only allowed one challenge and you get two stinking decisions against you?

And even if we were to get perfect decisions, at what cost do they come? The very character of the game will change, irrevocably. Football will become the same stop / start spectacle that so many other games are and in so doing, it will lose much about it that is special, much of its essence. It will also cede what little moral high ground it has left. In other sports, disputes have to go to television to resolve them. Football does not do that, it accepts – however grudgingly and with whatever ill grace at times – that the referee’s decision is final. Isn’t that a good lesson for life?