Cosmos Clinch Play Off Spot

nycosmos_logoThe New York Cosmos earned a hard-fought point, and clinched a spot in The Championship – the North American Soccer League’s four team postseason tournament, in a 0-0 draw at league leaders Minnesota United FC on Saturday night.

This was the third meeting of 2014 between the first and third place teams in the NASL Combined Season Standings, and the first at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. New York entered the match on the heels of a last-minute 2-1 victory against Ottawa Fury FC, while the hosts were coming off a 3-2 victory at Tampa Bay in the midweek match on Wednesday.

“It’s great to clinch a spot in the postseason,” said Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer after the match. “Obviously this isn’t the way we planned it, but at the end of the day it’s all about making the postseason and seeing what we can do from there.”

The visitors came out the stronger of the two sides, and looked purposeful going forward in attack. The first real opportunity of the match, though, came for Minnesota. Speedy Minnesota midfielder Miguel Ibarra motored away down the wing and sent in a low cross towards midfielder Kevin Venegas, who saw his effort saved at point-blank range by Maurer in the 15th minute.

United continued to push forward in attack, and nearly had the game’s opening goal through the aforementioned Ibarra in the 30th minute. Ibarra was played in on goal after a neat flick on, and rounded Maurer after a well-controlled first touch in the box, only to see his effort cleared off the line by Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman. The danger wasn’t clear, though, and Maurer was called into action once more following a stinging free kick from Minnesota’s Daniel Mendes in the 32nd minute.

Just minutes later, Minnesota appeared to be clean in on goal, only for the referee to bring play back to award a yellow card to Cosmos midfielder Danny Szetela for a tug of the shirt in the 35th minute. Minnesota players were upset with Younes Marrakchi’s decision, and the score remained 0-0 going into the break.

The second half began much the same way as the first, with the Cosmos controlling possession in the midfield, and creating a majority of the opportunities. The visitors heaped cross after cross into the Minnesota box, but were unable to find the score to break the deadlock.

The hosts soon grew into the second 45, though, and gave the Cosmos something to think about through the movement of Venegas. The Norwalk, Calif. native made a marauding run into New York’s penalty area in the 65th minute, but was marshalled off the ball by Szetela. Minnesota continued to keep the pressure on the visitors, and it was Ibarra once again who came close to finding the back of the net. The United States international was played into the area with a perfectly-threaded through ball in the 74th minute, but Freeman was alert to the danger and did well to force Ibarra away from goal.

Then there was a moment of real controversy in the 85th minute that nearly turned the match on its head. Minnesota United was awarded a penalty after Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes was judged to have barged over Ramirez in the box. Mendes received a red card for the foul, and Ramirez stepped up to the spot to try and give United a late lead. The league-leading goal-scorer sent his effort high and wide, though, in the 87th minute, and the match remained level at 0-0.

The 10 men of New York defended furiously for the remainder of the match, and left Minnesota with a point and a clean sheet.

“It was a hard-fought draw for sure,” said Cosmos assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian. “The guys worked their butts off until the end, and obviously dealt with a few different scenarios we didn’t perceive. Hunter Freeman moved to center back, [Hunter] Gorskie checked in at right back, we switched things around and didn’t miss a beat. The guys fought hard, and in the second half the play was much better. [We] created a few opportunities, but we didn’t concede, and at the end of the day we’ll take the draw on the road.”

Next up, the Cosmos will welcome the Tampa Bay Rowdies to James M. Shuart Stadium for their regular season home finale on Saturday, Oct. 25. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Crunch Time for Cosmos

prostpartyBy Cesar Trelles

The New York Cosmos turned in a performance this past Saturday at Shuart stadium that the 2013 version of the team would be proud of.

In the 93rd minute, Hagop Chirishian tapped a well placed cross from Hunter Freeman into the left hand corner of the net for a 2-1 lead that would give the Cosmos a dramatic victory and three crucial three points. With the season reaching its conclusion, the Cosmos find themselves in third place 10 points behind Minnesota and 6 points behind San Antonio in the combined points table. While their place in the combined points table is enough today to qualify them for the NASL postseason, they must be wary of the teams that are gunning for their spot behind them.

“We cannot decelerate, we must keep earning points and keep on getting better” said Cosmos Head coach Giovanni Savarese on Tuesday after the team’s workout.

Getting better is a must since two of the Cosmos last three matches are against teams that are ahead of them in the standings. One of those teams Minnesota United FC, awaits the Cosmos this Saturday in Minnesota.

“We want to finish the season in the best way possible. This game vs Minnesota is a final for us, in fact all of our remaining matches are finals for us.”, expressed Savarese.

Lurking behind the Cosmos (40 pts) in the points table are the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers with 35 points, Carolina Railhawks with 33 points and FC Edmonton with 31 points. Both teams have been playing some of the best soccer in the NASL as of late and would love nothing more than to pass the Cosmos and steal their spot in the postseason.

The team’s final match of the regular season will be against the San Antonio Scorpions, a team that has already given the Cosmos troubles both times they have faced them this season. San Antonio are firing on all cylinders after a 7-0 trouncing of the Tampa Bay Rowdies this past Saturday.

Savarese also realizes that if things hold the way they are in the standings, not only will the Cosmos wrap up their season against San Antonio, but they could end up playing their first round playoff match against them due to the new NASL post season format.

“Truth is we have to get through our current games. We cannot look ahead, that’s it. But at the end we dont care who we will play. We are trying to earn as many points as possible.”

“It would be interesting however that we could be playing San Antonio in the last game and end up playing our 1st playoff game against them. The same thing happened to us last year when we ended the season against Atlanta and went on to face them in the Soccer Bowl”.

At the beginning of the 2014 NASL season, commissioner Bill Peterson announced that the NASL would move towards a different method of deciding its league champion this year. In years past, the winner of the spring season would play the winner of the fall season in a single winner take all match called the Soccer Bowl. Many teams in the league argued that there were several problems with that structure such as the spring season winner shutting down in the fall because their spot was secured in the title match. Some also pointed towards the fact that if one team jumped out to an outrageous lead, then there wasn’t much for other teams to play for the remainder of the season.

With the new structure in place this year, not only do the spring winner and fall winner make the post season, but points earned over both seasons combined come into play. The teams with the next two highest point totals over the course of the two seasons also make the post season as the third and fourth seeds.

Once teams are decided, the first seed plays the fourth seed and the second seed plays the third seed – each in a single match. Those two winners then compete in the soccer bowl for the championship.

“For me I don’t like playoffs,” said Savarese. “There are times when teams make the playoffs that maybe don’t deserve to make the playoffs. I don’t think however that will be the case this year.”

Cross Island Crew Tidbits:
• On Saturday October 18th, there will be another Cosmos viewing party at Prost Grill & Garten in Garden City, Long Island. Gametime is 8:00pm.

• The final home match of the Cosmos 2014 season will be next Saturday, October 25 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Game time is 7:30pm.

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

Telling It Like It Is

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Roddy Doyle and Roy Keane promote their book at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

By Bill Thomas

Roy Keane. God bless him. If anybody can liven up the dreariness of an international break, it’s Roy.

With an autobiography that is the written equivalent of a thousand yard stare, the great man has turned his withering fire on all and sundry and the game is a better place for it.

In these sanitised days when nobody is allowed to say anything in the least bit interesting on pain of death, having Keane telling it like it is is a glorious throwback to an era long past when we could be trusted to hear home truths laid bare around us without the nation supposedly risking a collective attack of the vapours.

At the risk of going down the “it used to be better in our day” route, well, it was. Turn on the telly for a bit of football in the ‘70s or ‘80s and you might hear Malcolm Allison, Derek Dougan, Mick Channon, Don Revie, His Holiness Bill Shankly and Sir Brian Clough himself, none of them holding back, all of them giving a blunt, forthright version of what it was they saw laid out before them on the pitch.

They weren’t always right, you didn’t have to agree with them, but to hear some real giants of the game going at it hammer and tongs was both proper entertainment and real education. And when they were at it, the likes of Brian Moore, Jimmy Hill, David Coleman or Frank Bough simply allowed them to get on with it. Nowadays, if dissent breaks out, you can see Gary Lineker breaking out in a cold sweat at the prospect and quickly changing the subject

I struggle to quite understand why that should be, why things have changed so much, why we are so keen to avoid giving offence at all costs in an era where there’s always somebody desperate to take it at the most innocuous thing anyway, however conscientiously the bland lead the bland?

Loath as I am to take instruction from the atmosphere polluting drivel that is “The X factor”, “The Apprentice” and the like, they achieve a position at the centre of what we call the national conversation by one simple means. They court controversy, they do not shy away from it. At what point has Alan Sugar ever saccharin coated any of his comments? Never. Taking his lead from Donald Trump in the original American version, Sugar has tried to be as outspoken, brash and obnoxious as possible, competing with Simon Cowell for the coveted title of television’s most celebrated pantomime villain.

And yet all of this is manufactured, pre-scripted hot air that drips of artifice, marketing, spin. All but the most gullible among us know that we are being played, that a dramatic arc is being followed, that we are on another tedious “journey” may the Lord help us.

But when there’s a game of football concerned, the one thing we do know is that it isn’t scripted, that it exists in the moment and the reactions that come to it should be equally improvised. And yet we hear the same pat descriptions of the action time and again, an identikit collection of views that are selected from a range of half a dozen. Big Mal would be turning in his grave if he heard some of the stuff that passes for informed and interesting comment these days. Still, at least that would keep him busy til Fiona Richmond turns up.

It isn’t good enough. Football, more than ever in this day and age of so many competing attractions, is in the entertainment business. We are not curing cancer, we need not debate games in chin stroking obliqueness. This is what we do in our spare time and if the game does not make that an attractive enough proposition, there are plenty of other things we can have a go at instead.

It is a most compelling irony that it is a man like Roy Keane who points the way forward, for never in the history of the game has there been a character with as little interest for the froth and the fripperies of celebrity, of entertainment, of the throwaway. Have you ever seen a man as dedicated to his profession or, more particularly, to winning, than Roy Keane?

And yet of course, that merely underlines the one dimensional way in which we are asked to view the world these days. Everybody is supposed to be reduced to caricature, to a cartoon of themselves whereupon we take the most obvious facet of their character, blow that so far out of proportion that it swamps every other attribute and never allow them to escape that prison of personality.

And so forever more, Roy Keane is supposed to be the snarling skinheaded scourge of referees and midfielders everywhere, kicking, spitting and fighting his way to another trophy. What drivel. Yes Keane was a winner, yes he was a hard competitor, but there was more to him than that, just as there is far more to him now.

Where we are asked to believe, risibly, that Joey Barton is some kind of renaissance man these days, Keane is more likely the real deal. I would urge you to try and catch the full version of his interview with Kevin Kilbane on BBC’s Football Focus – it’s on the BBC website
www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29571633 – with all due dispatch because it is 20 minutes well spent.

Discussing his two coaching roles, Keane – and surely the man is busy enough already, incubating a flock of swallows in that capacious WG Grace of a beard – shows himself to be a character of intelligence, charm and a goodly sense of humour, more than willing to laugh at himself and to acknowledge the absurdity of a world where we await gnomic utterances from blokes who are basically good at kicking a bag of air in the right direction. There’s no showboating, no grandstanding, just a rare bit of honesty delivered with like it or lump it candour.

Those are the building blocks of his character, those are the elements that once you know they’re there, make his opinions all the more fascinating, all the more credible. Keane is one of the game’s most engaging characters, one quite the equal of his old mentor Brian Clough, one with just as much to say that should fascinate and illuminate.

But just as Cloughie gave television the wide berth in his later years as he recognised its waning desire to do just that, so it is no wonder that Keane has concluded that punditry is beneath him.

God knows, it’s our loss, not his.

Donovan’s Last Waltz

donovanBy Tim Hall

On Friday night, Landon Donovan, a man who some would argue is the greatest American soccer player of all time, ended his career with his national team in a performance that spoke volumes not only about him, but about the state of the sport in the United States.

The game took place at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. It is, primarily, a stadium used for American football, the lines of which were still visible on the field on that chilly October night. It would be difficult to claim that the retirement of a player from national team duty is the biggest night in the history of the sport, but, it had a feel of something bigger than just an off-cycle friendly. Maybe not tuxedos and red carpets, but perhaps a few extra photos, a moment to be savored, a story to be told somewhere down the line. And yet, the fans in attendance could not escape those damned football lines, bane of the supporters’ existence throughout the modern renaissance that people like Landon Donovan have helped to usher in.

Tack on the fact that Rentschler Field is virtually impossible to get to from either New York City or Boston or, frankly, any point in between, and that parking there consists of dumping your car in a dark field and hoping it will be somewhere in that field, in some drivable state, after the game. It makes one wonder why on earth this would be place US Soccer elected to hold two matches in as many years when there are perfectly good stadiums nearby, until you remember that nearby Bristol is the home of ESPN. It’s only a thirty minute drive or thereabouts, close enough for Donovan and his USMNT teammates to pop over for a quick interview on gameday and for the commentators to carpool over without ESPN having to reimburse them for tolls. ESPN’s role in the last two decades of growth of the game in America is undeniable, and Donovan himself will be among the last to straddle the eras of niche product and household names. Now both are moving on, ESPN having ceded the broadcast rights to the next few major tournaments around the world, and Donovan to a career, oddly enough, where he might make a fine analyst for Fox Sports, the holder of those rights.

The seats where the biggest US supporters were stationed, in the ends of Rentschler Field, came complete with a partially obstructed view, owing again to the stadium’s primary purpose to allow the nation’s best and brightest students to give each other concussions. Our view of Landon Donovan has been similarly obstructed over the years by the man himself. The American midfielder has played the media game well, always giving us some but not enough. There was, most famously, the time when he gave soccer a rest for a while and disappeared to Cambodia without much of an explanation. We’d come to learn later that this was somewhere between feeling burnt-out and depression, the latter of which Donovan would speak about in his final pre-match press conference in the Stars-and-Stripes. There was also the time, after scoring what will surely go down as the most famous and most important goal of his national team career, sending the US through to the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup with a stoppage time goal against Algeria, Landon used the spotlight of postgame interview to look directly into the camera and say hello to his on-again, off-again wife Bianca.

He knew that we knew of the stories in the media about his relationship. This was Landon Donovan in a nutshell, somehow understanding that a few of us have done the backreading on the subjects of his life, that we’re in on his jokes, but not much caring to explain it to anyone else, and not choosing to give us any further peek behind the curtain.

When the whistle blew through the Connecticut air and it was suddenly about the actual game again, it was clear from the actions of all of Donovan’s teammates that the objective was to get Landon a goal as a sendoff. The problem here is that Landon Donovan has never been a target forward in that sense. He’s always played as a creative midfielder, a “true number ten” to borrow the parlance. A very good number ten, not so much penciled into the lineup as much as India inked. Even his most famous goal, that one against Algeria, was not of his own making. The credit there can be passed around like the ball was: Tim Howard’s excellent throw from the goalmouth to spring the attack, Donovan up the sideline with an excellent thru-ball to Jozy Altidore that hit him in stride. Altidore slides one across to Clint Dempsey, who is stuffed by the keeper, only for the rebound to come to Donovan, crashing the net like a midfielder should.

Sadly for the man and the fans, Donovan’s highlight goal in his final national team match would not come. He played over 40 minutes before being pulled to a rousing ovation of thanks by the US faithful. Donovan could have played more – usually a player gets about 60 minutes in before the grand farewell – but Landon had a club match that actually mattered the following day. That was Landon Donovan, too. He’s always had somewhere else to be. Despite being given a chance at a young age to blossom in the Bayer Leverkusen system, Donovan pressured them to loan him back to the States, where he played for San Jose. Still unable to fit in on German soil, a full transfer was made sending Donovan to LA Galaxy. Loans to Bayern Munich and Everton would also never amount to European success, with the feel that Donovan was always the one steering the ship, that maybe his heart was never in Europe. And then, as mentioned, there was his midseasons sabbatical to Cambodia, part of a mental and physical recharging that might have seen Landon blackballed from the game 50 years ago but is now understood a bit more.

Donovan’s night over, discounting interviews and video tributes and a lap around the stadium to applaud the fans, the USMNT would end up drawing Ecuador 1-1, and even that seemed to be in tribute to the legacy of Landon Donovan. The US Men, as he departs them, are good, are better now than when he first latched on at the tender age of 21, yet they still aren’t quite good enough to put away the really elite teams when needed. Oh, they can beat Mexico in sub-freezing temperatures at home, but they still can’t fight through to the very upper echelon.

So that Friday night perfectly encapsulated what Landon Donovan has meant throughout his national team career. What his career actually means, will be left to time and history to decide.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sunday, October 19: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew – It’s the last guaranteed home game of the season, even though NY have made the playoffs, we still await seeding. So, it’ll be festive and no pressure, for the fans at least. Join the Empire Supporters Club at El Pastor (570 Market St. Newark) one more time.

The College Season So Far

wolverton

Andrew Wolverton – Record clean sheets for Penn State.

By Pat Glodkowski
    
This week we review how some of the best men’s college teams have been performing so far this season.

Conference games are underway, and the intensity of these matches have been picking up significantly. We have had record attendances, astounding goals, and uncovered many youth talents during the earlier stages of the season. However, now that the college soccer season is in the swing of things the stakes have been raised and there are many reasons to become more attentive to what is going on, ahead of the college soccer tournament.

The teams that have done well this season, impressing both coaches and fans have been primarily (though not surprisingly) in the Atlantic Coast, Pac-12, and Big Ten Conference.

Some players have already been making waves, such as Andrew Wolverton (PSU), Patrick Doody (Indiana), and Leo Stolz (UCLA). These players have set new standards for their position with goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton breaking Penn State’s record in clean sheets as well as helping their team to the best start in Big Ten.

The school had wild success beginning this year with ten straight wins, until they succumbed to Maryland University. Prior to that 4-0 rout by Maryland, PSU conceded only three goals, thanks in part to their esteemed keeper. He has set many records for his school in the past, and continues to break them this season.

Their top striker, Connor Maloney offers them a bright future as the team’s and Big Ten’s leading goal scorer. In Penn State’s last win that occurred against Rutgers, Maloney scored the lone goal of the game. Maloney recalls Coach Warming telling him to “be a beast at all times.” He further stated that the coach wanted to see intensity above all else in their games. So far this philosophy has prevailed with Penn State’s team hitting a minor dent in their otherwise perfect season thus far.

The other Big Ten competitor, who may cause Penn State major problems down the road, is Indiana. IU is currently ranked number 1 according to the NCAA RPI index, with a reported record of 8-1-3. This school has a perfect away performance, making any home team shiver with the fear of loss (even Duke would not be safe). Indiana has players that can combine their individual talents to find one another and click as a team. In their first game in October against St. Louis, IU conceded an early goal in the first minute. A few minutes later they were on the cusp of losing another, but keeper Sascha Otte spared them from going two down. The team managed to rally at the 23rd minute to find an equalizer thanks to good delivery from Patrick Doody, and a clinical finish by Jamie Vollmer. Indiana went on to overcome St. Louis 3-1.

Moving across the country, the Pacfic-12 has offered quite a lot of excitement with teams such as Washington, UCLA, and Stanford thriving this season. Washington has managed to charm the country by going in strong  and hardly leaving any game unnoticed. This past week, Washington had difficulties against a strong Oregon State side. After going a man down early on, they managed to hold onto a 1-1 draw against a fierce Oregon State opposition. Coach Jamie Clark recounted that day “we should feel fairly happy with a tie against a top-25 team on the road.”

Washington right now remains the only undefeated team in the Pac-12 Conference. Coach Clark believes his team has set a high standard for the team and hopes to maintain their good form. The country could very well be staring at potential national champions, should they maintain their form.

The other two notable pac-12 teams, UCLA and Stanford recently went head to head to obtain an unsatisfying 1-1 draw. Aaron Simmons of UCLA managed to record his first goal of the season, amidst a solid game from Stanford keeper Earl Edwards Jr. Edwards’s performance was all the more impressive and crucial as UCLA was ranked second in the nation and Stanford needed to maintain a good start to the conference games. This short stumble overshadowed UCLA’s previous win against Cal State Northridge where they won 3-0, courtesy of two goals from their star, Leo Stolz. Stanford has a chance to climb the rankings, but while evaluating their team, it is hard to say if they will continue to do well. They are missing some key components in their team, making it hard for them to keep up with their competitors.

The Atlantic Coast has also been host to a good many teams such as previous NCAA champions, Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are maintaining good form this season, despite losing a senior class from last year. Other familiar contenders in this conference include Syracuse and Virginia. As always these teams stand firm among the competition and offer hard-fought games. Virginia saw seasons of glory under the leadership of Bruce Arena, who is now considered one of the best MLS coaches. Often, Arena reminisces back to the UVA team he led prior to accepting a position with D.C. United, regarding his college team very highly. Syracuse offers major problems to teams doing extremely well. They will be hoping to overcome any obstacles to make a long run this season.

In the end,the chances of seeing a repeat win by Notre Dame seems slim this season, though not impossible. They have had a number of stumbles including a 1-0 loss to Boston College. After losing the early goal, Notre Dame could not muster the ability to break down BC’s defense. Other teams have had similar hiccups, but the loss of championship players may take a mental toll on the players. As of now, much like the Euro qualifiers, this season is still very open.

B is for Bottom

PP_logoBy Paula Marcus

As always in the Football league, there are two different battles going on each season; the one to go up and the one to stay up. Whilst focus is usually on the top of the table, the story at the other end isproving much more exciting, with numerous managerial changes, crazy managers and even crazier owners.

Of the six teams sitting at the bottom of the table, four of them have one thing in common; the letter B. But their reasons for early struggles are fairly different. First up are the recently manergerless, and currently bottom placed, Bolton Wanderers. Even though life at Bolton began well for Dougie Freedman, guiding them to a seventh place finish, he seems to have a slight inability to get the team playing well at the start of the season. Last season it took until October for Wanderers to gain their first win and they only have one in 11 games this year.

What exactly is going wrong isn’t clear. After last year’s poor start, Freedman did lift Bolton to 14th and they haven’t had an easy start to the season, playing five of the teams at the top end of the table. It may usually be the simple solution to blame the manager, but this time the critics may have a slight point. He may not have had the financial backing of some clubs, but the move from Palace to a club that needed rebuilding may have come a little too early for Freedman and he did seem out of his depth. Neil Lennon has now accepted that challenge.

If the problems at Bolton are somewhat complex, the same is definitely not true at Blackpool.  In fact the most surprising thing so far this season is probably that there is a team below Blackpool. A lot was made preseason of the troubles at Blackpool, resulting in a complete lack of players despite money made from player sales and parachute payments. The fact that their patchwork team has been able to amass any points is due to the hard work of manager Jose Riga and the players he has brought into the club.

Ironically, few home fans witnessed the first win of the season. With the game broadcast live on TV, fans staged a walk out on the 53rd minute to display their increasing displeasure at the Oyston family who own the club. Fans argue Owen Oyston has pocketed the money made by the club, whilst he claims the club now has assets of £25 million (about $40 million) and that all decisions have been made for the best interest of the club (although it’s not clear how relegation really helps).

Next up in the ‘B’ is for bad owner comes Birmingham City, who are still operating with majority shareholder Carlson Yeung in jail for money laundering (again good to see the fit and proper person test in fine working order). The one thing Birmingham have been crying out for over the past few years is some form of stability at the top, and it looks like they may finally get it.

Acting chairman Peter Pannu will not have his contract renewed meaning the club will no longer be paying a salary to someone that seemed to do very little. It also removes a large obstacle for potential new buyers, which may give City the change at a new start. Pannu will be replaced by Panos Pavlakis who has a good working relationship with manager Lee Clark. As with Bolton, though, it remains to be seen if Clark really is the right man for the job. After two difficult years, Clark may be regretting not waiting for a more suitable job. Trying to rebuild a club is hard, trying to do it with an owner who has just been arrested is slightly more difficult.

Last but my no means least comes Brighton and Hove Albion who, along with Wigan, seem to be suffering from a severe case of playoff hangover. After losing manager Oscar Garcia and top scorer Leonardo Ullora over the close season, this year was always going to be tough. The key for Brighton moving forward was how they replaced their two prized assets. Sadly ‘could have done better’ is splashed across the top in red pen.

One of the biggest mistakes seen this season is the belief that if you have managed a team and had some success you will fit right in to the Championship. Looking at the large number of managers sacked so far indicates that really isn’t the case, especially when squad rebuilding is needed. With Garcia also resigning due to apparent insufficient funds to take the club to the next level, Sami Hyypia maybe should have been more wary before taking the job.

The second issue that faced Brighton was replacing an irreplaceable striker, and the man tasked with the job was Bristol City’s Sam Baldock. He may have a reasonable scoring record over the last two years, but he managed just five goals in his previous 21 Championship games for West Ham United. So far this season he has played only four games and he has yet to score, whilst Brighton’s top Scorer is defender Lewis Dunk with three league goals. The one plus for Albion is that they have seven different scorers so far, suggesting that if they can find a proven striker they may well quickly climb the table.

Of course all is not lost for the ‘B’ teams out there. If you look a little further up the table, the three remaining ‘B’ clubs of Brentford, Bournemouth and Blackburn are sitting happily in positions 10-12, although there is a lot of football still to play.

 

Listen to Paula’s latest Championship podcast.paula_02

Cosmopolitan League Latest

cosmoyellowBy Jay Mwamba

Winless the first five weeks of the season, United FC suddenly stirred to life last week. The Brooklyn side inflicted the first defeats on Pancyprian Freedoms and New York Rovers, ending both clubs’ hundred percent records in stunning back-to-back victories 72 hours apart.
 
Pancyprian were the first to fall at United’s Aviator Sports Complex last Thursday. Six-time USASA Amateur Cup winners, the Greek-Cypriots were bounced 3-2 at the first hurdle this time by a side they’d beaten by the same score line in the league six days earlier.

Adam Himeno, Paul Nitolli and Mashriqi Mohammed scored for the hosts while Ari Dimas and Phil Banister replied for Pancyprian who had not lost a game since last season.

Three days later, in a monumental upset, hitherto bottom side United run rampant on Randalls Island, thrashing Rovers 4-0 on Nitolli’s hat trick and a Himeno strike. It was their first league win while Rovers, 5-0 atop the East going into the match, lost for the first time. United manager Alex Zaretser said it was more a case of his team gelling than anything else.

“We are just starting to know each other since it’s a [brand] new team. It’s taken us four games to figure out the best formation,” he explained. “I think we can do even better [we] just need to get in better physical shape but otherwise I am very happy with the last two games.”

Grigol Ankladse got both goals in the United reserves’ 4-2 loss to Rovers.

GREEK CRUISE
Holders New York Greek Americans began their defense of the USASA Cup with a 3-0 romp over Westchester Real last Friday.

Chris Megaloudis, Keith Detelj and Pete Touros — with his first for the senior side — sent a spirited Real side reeling.

“We hit the woodwork a record seven times,” added coach Stavros Zomopoulos.

TITANIC TIE
Two days later, the Greeks and Pancyprian battled to a goalless draw at the Metropolitan Oval in the first Hellenic “Clasico” of the campaign.

Stavros credited new Pancyprian Rafael Diaz, the former St. John’s University and Orlando City shot stopper for thwarting the Greeks in front of 400 spectators.

“We created a lot of chances but run into an incredible goalkeeping performance. He made a couple of saves that the whole crowd simply applauded,” observed Stavros.

The tie left Pancyprian [5-0-1, 16] still six points clear in the West and NYGA [3-1-1, 10] in second place, albeit with a game in hand.

The Greeks reserves prevailed 3-1 on goals by Felipe D’Agostin, Mario Gagliano and Adam Marcu.

“The [reserves] found a way to win, as they were just a superior side,” Stavros lauded his ‘B’ side.

AY, CARAMBA!
New signing Karamba Janneh connected twice in the Lansdowne Bhoys’ 6-1 mauling of Hoboken FC at Laurel Hill Park that elevated the defending champs to third place in the East.

Sikele Slyvester [two] and Dubliner Stephen Roche [two] were also on target for the 3-2 [9] Bhoys, now six points off the pace with a game in hand.
Cory Chaplin [9th] had drawn first blood for Hoboken whose reserves slipped 1-0.

CELTIC REVIVAL
Austin McCann [54th] and Jon Juchno [64th] made it two wins on the trot for Manhattan Celtic who saw off Stal Mielec 2-1 at Pier 5.

David Pinto had the Stal response.

“Great to get six points in these crunch games,” said young Celtic gaffer Matt Kane, who’s 23.

Stal’s Jacek Korba scored in the 1-1 reserve tie.

SUPER EAGLE
Bljerdi Bardic was the Clarkstown Eagles hero on Randalls Island, netting all the goals in a 3-1 decision over Central Park Rangers.

Mike Nieraeth, off Damian Lopez’s assist, scored for CPR, whose reserves won 6-2.

Hamza Deheina [two], Greg Moss [two], Alberto Sanchis and Dan Riso tallied.

FUN RESULT
Shamrock’s Mohamed Fofana notched a hat trick in 6-1 drubbing of Doxa FC at Van Buren High School that saw the Irishmen reclaim the lead in the second tier.

Santiago Rigby [two] and Joey Aronovsky contributed to the rout that put the Sunnyside Irishmen [4-1-1, 13] two points clear on the log.

Kurt Cameron had a late consolation for Doxa [3-1-2, 11] who had started the day a point ahead of the Rocks in the top-of-the-table clash.

“A great day for the Rocks with all three men’s team in top spot in their respective divisions,” noted first team boss Glen Wrafter, alluding to the victories by the Shamrock seconds and Over-30.

In the curtain raiser, Leandro Fregossi bagged a brace while Sean Hand had a goal in the Shamrock seconds’ 3-1 triumph.  Jhonatan Dasilva was the Doxa scorer.

DOUBLE ROUT
Steve Kovalenko’s methodical New York Ukrainians closed to within a point of second place in Division Two [3-1-1, 9] after flattening FC Japan 9-1 on Randalls Island.

David Alkasimi led all scorers with four goals, Aaron Kripack chalked up two while Adam   Maliniak, Lukasz  Prawdzik and Jesse  Alexander accounted for the other goals.

Ukrainians’ players couldn’t miss in either game as the reserves also bagged a hatful of goals, eight with none conceded.

Gleb Mironenko had four in the encounter, Dimitri Jacob a hat trick and Kevin Young one.

FIRST WIN
Second Division champs CD Iberia posted their first win, 2-1 at Sporting Astoria’s expense on Randalls Island.

Iberia nicked it two minutes from time after pouncing on a defensive error. Earlier in the second half, debutant Don Harrison had latched onto Isaac Hidalgo’s back heel in the box to level for Sporting.

“For much of the game we had them pinned in their half,” said Astoria’s Ed Romero, who disputed two calls by the ref, including what he said should have been a penalty.

His reserves went on a scoring spree in a 5-2 victory. Hugo Abanto, Mamadou Falloh, Johan Quinde [two] and Steve Kouev tallied.

COLLARED
Mid-table NYPD FC put the collar on Polonia in a 2-all draw at McCarren Park. Rene Lopez and Nick Baum struck for the Cops.

Despite being the only unbeaten side in the second tier, Polonia [2-0-3,9] slipped to fifth position following wins by Shamrock and Ukrainians.

SUPREME DRAW
At East River Park, Maxwell Barfoe’s goal earned New York Supreme a share of the points from a 1-1 tie with Manhattan Kickers.

“We should have won the game. We created many chances but could not finish,” said Supreme’s Frederick Etsiakoh.

RED SURGE
High scoring CPR Reds moved nine points clear in Metro Div. One East off a 5-1 pasting off Brishna at Flushing Meadow.

Brishna got off a false start after beating the offside trap, but the unbeaten Reds would hit back decisively. There were goals by Johnny Williamson [three], whose first from a Richie Kavanagh free kick tied the game, before Eric Pierot and Felipe Lima joined in the scoring.

The Reds improved to 5-0-1 [16] nine ahead of New York Vllaznia, who succumbed 4-2 to defending Metro One champions Lansdowne Bhoys at Corporal Thompson Park.

Johnny McGeeney, Mark Finn [two] and Neil Maguire connected for Lansdowne.

EASTERN FRONT
In Metro Div. One East, leaders FC Gwardia produced another blowout with Gotham City their latest victims in an 8-1 shellacking at Bushwick Inlet.

Konrad Sobotka [two], Piotr Silski [two], Marcin Januszko, Bartlomiej Stolarczyk and Patryk Jarosz were among the scorers.

MISSILE FIRST
Missile FC registered their first victory of the campaign, a 3-0 thumping of Ridgewood on goals by Jo Valentin [two] and Eugene Jackson.

In other Metro One action, Andrew Maier connected from Nico Eceizabarrena’s corner in  Gotham Argo’s 2-1 loss to Mr. Dennehy’s.

EIGHT BALL
In a division where teams have been shooting the proverbial lights out, it was Mola SC’s turn to run up the score in an 8-2 trouncing of Metro City Fury Athletic FC at Red Hook.

Alessante Catalano [two], Vito Coldonato [two], Kanijah [two], Gianluca Palanca  and Stefano Ingravallo  put Fury to the sword, propelling undefeated Mola [4-0-1, 13] into joint second in Metro Div. Two in the process.

LYNCHPIN
Inform Joaco Lynch made it nine goals in two games with five for Barnstonworth Rovers in a 7-3 drubbing of Bravehearts at McCarren Park. The scoring outburst brought his early season tally to 11.

“Joaco is on fire,” remarked Rovers’ Juan González Casares.

Dave Leboff was credited with netting for both teams, while Toni Obi registered his first career goal for Rovers. Bravehearts discounted Leboff’s own goal and credited William Garcia [two] and Clement Osbert for their strikes.

VIVA VEGA
SC Eintracht fell 1-0 to a late Matt Vega goal for AO Brooklyn.

ALBANIAN DERBY
Pirro Cece and Elsen Kodra [85th] dug FC Partizani out of a two-zero first half hole to tie NYFC Iliria 2-2 in their Albanian derby on Randalls Island.

Williamsburg International’s decline, meanwhile, continued in Metro Two with a 7-0 spanking by new leaders FC Spring Valley Huerto United.

VINTAGE ROCKS
Paddy McCarry’s Over-30s are now 5-0 [15], three points clear in  Div. One East after holding off BW Gottschee 3-2 on Randalls Island.

Sebastien Thiol [1st], Tayfun Gokmen [35th] and Richie Brennan [60th] had the Rocks 3-0 up before Edison Pazymino [76th, 88th] got two back.

“We fell asleep,” McCarry conceded. “Not our best performance but we got the win and the three points. We’re off to a good start.”

DOUBLE DIOP
Later on Randalls Island, Birahim Diop scored twice in the last five minutes as Manhattan Celtics Legends came from a goal down to beat Barnstonworth Premier 2-1 and stay within a shout of McCarry & Co.

Mike Butler bagged the Barnstonworth goal.

GRAY ZONE
Jack Vivonetto converted a 44th minute penalty to salvage a 1-1 tie for Manhattan Kickers Over-30s against CPR Grays.

Big Mike Schall between the Kicker posts had earlier saved spot kick before the Grays went ahead.

“We were really lucky the opponents gifted us that penalty otherwise, I’d be really [peeved] to have lost the game so tamely,” said Kickers Eddie Yee Woo Guo.

Sister club and defending Over-30 champs Kickers Premier capitulated 5-3 against New York Dinamo.  Stu Kaiser [35th], Bernard Sheary [55th pen.] and Joe Whiteman [80th] scored.

GREEK DERBY
Kyriakos Mallias and Dennis Katira handed New York Greek Americans the Over-30 Greek bragging rights in the CSL with a 2-1 result over Megas Alexandros at Van Buren High School.

DUTCH EDGE
In Over-30 Div. Two, James Carrico scored twice including the acrobatic match winner for Nieuw Amsterdam who pipped Guyana Veterans 4 -3.

Ronnie Swinkels and Josh Salsi had the other goals.

FOREIGN LEGION
Across the Hudson, Youcef Mami and Souley Mane Diallo each scored twice in Manhattan Celtic Bhoys’ 4-1 defeat of Hoboken FC at Sinatra Park.

EVEN STEVEN
Later at Sinatra Park, Ugo Solinas set up Steve Teesdale for CPR Legends’ leveler in a 1-1 Over-35 tie with Hoboken FC Veterans.

The goal earned Teesdale his first Legends “Old Man of the Match” award, reported coach Manohar Venkataraman.

West Ham United Questions

keano1. What is the correct name of the ground that they play at?

2. What was the original name of the club?

3. Which player was a member of their 1975 and 1980 FA Cup-winning sides and later saw his son win the same trophy with Chelsea?

4. Who joined them as manager in 2011 and took them back into the Premier League via the play-offs?

5. Who rejoined the club in 2013, a decade after he had moved to Chelsea?

ANSWERS

West Ham United Answers

keano1. What is the correct name of the ground that they play at?

The Boleyn Ground

2. What was the original name of the club?

Thames Ironworks FC

3. Which player was a member of their 1975 and 1980 FA Cup-winning sides and later saw his son win the same trophy with Chelsea?

Frank Lampard

4. Who joined them as manager in 2011 and took them back into the Premier League via the play-offs?

Sam Allardyce

5. Who rejoined the club in 2013, a decade after he had moved to Chelsea?

Joe Cole

Cosmos Clinch Late Win Against Ottawa

nycosmos_logoThe New York Cosmos defeated Ottawa Fury FC 2-1 on Saturday night at Shuart Stadium thanks to a stoppage time goal from Hagop Chirishian.

The Cosmos got on the board just before the half in the 43rd minute when midfielder Diomar Diaz headed in a cross from midfielder Danny Szetela.

Ottawa Fury FC equalized in the 58th minute with a goal from Tom Heinemann.

The Cosmos found a match winner in second half stoppage time when midfielder Hagop Chirishian found the back of the net.

With the win, the Cosmos maintained their third place position in the NASL Combined season standings.

Here is the link to the match highlights courtesy of One World Sports and the New York Cosmos:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmTICotR7tM&list=UUJatqm1UKRksS9k7h9C9F8w

 

Singing The Blues

bowlerBy Bill Thomas

It is one of the few downsides of being Manchester United that they are held to account to far higher standards than the majority of football clubs in this country.

Listen to the chatter around the game and they remain a club in crisis. Look at the Premier League table and they sit in fourth place, in the Champions League positions already, for the first time in more than a year. Mount a further investigation into the state of play at Old Trafford and you find a squad that has been decimated by injury and where the bedding in of new players has had its inevitable impact on consistency. In short, you find a squad that is only going to get better as the season progresses and will be doing that from what is already a position of some strength.

You could say similar things about Liverpool where Brendan Rodgers is under severe scrutiny after a stuttering start to the season which has seen the Reds shipping goals with alarming ease. Yet they are but a point behind United and all of this while not only coming to terms with the departure of the undoubtedly world class Luis Suarez but the loss of the injured Daniel Sturridge too, while, a la Spurs last term, trying to introduce virtually a new team’s worth of footballers to one another. Little wonder that Jordan Henderson has been their star thus far – he’s been there long enough to know what’s expected of him.

And then you’ve got Arsenal, the club for whom the bipolar diagnosis could have been invented. Defeated just once, four draws out of the other six games have left some suggesting that Arsene Wenger needs to change his philosophy, that they have once again refused to make enough impact in the transfer market, that the FA Cup win last term will be but a tiny oasis as they continue to plough through a desert. But again, as Sanchez and Welbeck play more games, Arsenal will continue to look sharper.

These three giants are separated by but a point, each in and around the Champions League spots with better times surely on the horizon. Crisis? What crisis?

But crisis there is, and it might even be one which engulfs Manchester City too. For even at this early stage of the season, but seven games in, we are all forced to start wondering if the book might as well be closed on bets for the Premier League title. For five points clear already sit Chelsea, the only two points that they’ve dropped being a self inflicted wound after they allowed Frank Lampard to leave Stamford Bridge, only for him to crop up at Manchester City and grab a draw for his new employers.

It’s not merely that Chelsea have had such a good start in points terms that is a concern. It’s the way they’ve collected them. Since he came to England the first time, Jose Mourinho’s standard modus operandi has long been to keep it tight at the back and eke out the odd goal here and there. In all that time, Chelsea have rarely been a free scoring beast but now, things are changing and that has sent a chill through the rest of the division.

They’ve got 21 goals from seven games, and could have had more. And in Costa and Fabregas, they have found a pairing who seem to be so closely attuned to one another that it is the most natural thing in the world for them to be creating and scoring goals together.

This Chelsea looks to be the most stylishly well oiled machine that Mourinho has yet managed to construct and, injuries permitting, they are beginning to look as if they could have one hand on the Premier League by the turn of the year – no wonder Wenger wanted to belt him.

But in Chelsea’s seemingly impregnable form is where the crisis lies for the rest of the game and the likes of City, United, Liverpool and Arsenal in particular. At least one of those is already destined to miss out on the Champions League slots, but if they end up kissing goodbye to the title well short of the finishing line, what does that do to them? Where does it leave their owners? Do they continue to pour money into their teams in the hope that they can close the gap, or do they wave the white flag? And what does that do for the Premier League brand as well? There are some interesting days ahead.

A Bronx Cheer

43.gaelic.park_.jaspersBy Pat Glodkowski

When one thinks of soccer rivalries, Brazil v Argentina, Barcelona v Real Madrid, or United v City come to mind – not a college Division III encounter between NYU Violets and  Rochester.

Waking to an alarm clock on Saturday at the unforgiving hour of 8 a.m. I headed to the subway to travel across town and then north to the Bronx. 168th St., 207th St., 225th St rolled by. All unfamiliar numbers for an NYU student.

I got off at 238th St. with my two friends who braved the morning trip with me amidst one of the worst storms in recent months. We dodged waterfalls cascading down from the elevated subway tracks, skipped around puddles, and walked up two blocks to the entrance of Gaelic Park.

We stopped at the picnic area where free pretzels were being handed out. Free stuff is free stuff and as college kids we will take it all. After indulging ourselves in this unexpected breakfast, we walked towards the only part of the stands that were covered by an awning.

Parents of players on both teams were already seated in anticipation of kick off. Another local joined our crew and four of us stood proudly among the parents who were invited for the weekend to watch their sons play (note: it was parents weekend, but anyone can attend these games). We all settled in, anticipating a heated college soccer match, or at least one that two Division III schools could do their best to create.

This event may have drawn about 50-65 people, which included NYU and Rochester parents, along with the students that eventually came out to show their support.

Our numbers eventually swelled to about 20 non-parents including predominantly students, and some good fellows from the Empire Supporters’ Club that cheers vehemently for the New York Red Bulls. The Empire Supporters Club NYU chapter attempted to organize about 40 people to show, but the rain dissuaded many. Regardless, our small but rambunctious crew led with regular chants that at least pissed off some of the away fans who were in the same section as us. Not enough NYU supporters showed up to justify segregating opposing fans, as is common with most rivalries.

College crowds tend to appreciate the team and school more so than the sport. College football games, for example, are often better attended than their local professional counterparts. This is not the case where soccer is concerned. Most MLS teams frequently draw respectable turn outs of about 18,000 on average. College games, on the other hand, rarely achieve such numbers. One of the more prominent recent exceptions was the UCLA vs UC Santa Barbara game, which drew 16,000 people. Most teams however, even in the top flight draw only 500-1000 people per game.

The lower division schools such as NYU suffer even worse attendances. My friend and I have been spear-heading the promotion of an NYU soccer supporting community. We have partnered with Violet Nation, which is in charge of promoting NYU Violets athletics (Yes, our mascot is a flower). On enquiring about attendances, amenities, and travel arrangements to the games, to our horror we were told that the average attendance at these matches is twelve. That’s twelve, not twelve hundred. To make matters worse, the amenities at Gaelic Park are not readily available during NYU games, and transportation to the games is the responsibility of the individual fans. It is a recipe for disaster since students are required to travel a long distance to an area in a borough that they are not familiar with.

Undetered by these setbacks, we worked with the Violet Nation to organize a bus to take fans from NYU to the game, and to provide a picnic area. Unfortunately the rain put a damper on these  plans. We also learned that the bus would not be available until the match had already kicked off, meaning we would miss the whole first half. Everything that could possibly go wrong, did.

Although many other schools suffer similar setbacks, Division III schools are particularly hard hit. With less events to attend, the hope would be that more students would turn out for soccer games, but this doesn’t appear to be the case.

Division I teams, on the other hand, have seen their attendance figures increase steadily. Certainly this is a reflection of the heightened interest in soccer that has rippled across America recently. Although schools like NYU may be struggling, it’s nevertheless encouraging that some schools are slowly starting to draw crowds that could someday compete with some MLS and NASL teams.

100% Rovers

csl_doxa

Second Division league leaders Doxa FC.

By Jay Mwamba

Surprise package New York Rovers produced another emphatic performance in the CSL top flight last Sunday, demolishing Clarkstown Eagles 8-1 on Randalls Island to extend their hundred percent record into Week Five.

The East leaders [formerly known as modest Barnstonworth Rovers], took no prisoners against their upstate visitors. Alex Weekes and Nick Christman both notched a hat trick while Christian Carrasquillo scored twice.

Rovers [5-0, 15] stayed five points clear of former champs New York Athletic Club who stunned New York Greek Americans 1-0.
Earlier, Rovers’ reserves had set the tempo in the opener, with Oscar Cantu, Retta Mulugetta and first team player-coach Andy Abramovits on target in a 3-0 win.

FREEDOM RALLY
In the West, pace-setters Pancyprian Freedoms also improved to 5-0 [15], but only after rallying back against United FC at St. John’s University.

In the first of their two meetings in six days, Pancyprian erased a two-goal deficit to edge United  3-2. The two sides clash again Thursday night in the US Amateur Cup at Aviator Sports Complex.

Pancyprian’s unblemished record going into the match seemed in danger when Moe Mashriqi and Paul Nittoli gave United a first half lead.

“[They] went up 2-0 at the half although we had the better of the play. They made their chances and we did not,” said George Halkidis. “In the second half we came out strong.”

Quick goals by Yannick Reyering [47th] and Michael Palacio [49th] turned it around. “We had the better of the play and missed a couple of breakaways that could have had the score line look much higher,” said Halkidis.

At any rate, Reyering’s second [63rd] clinched full points while opening up a six-point lead over the vanquished Greek Americans.

HAUNTING LOSS
At the Metropolitan Oval, three former Greek American players returned to haunt their old side.

The Greeks succumbed 1-0 to a goal scored by ex-NYGA Bobby Linaberry in former Greek skipper Joe Ruesgen’s first encounter against his old mates as NYAC coach. Nat Bekoe, was the other erstwhile Greek in the NYAC squad.

“One of those days,” lamented Greek coach Stavros Zomopoulos. “We dominated 89 minutes of play but the ball would not go in for us.”

Admitting that it hurt to lose to “our boys,” he vowed payback.

The Greek reserves ended NYAC’s hundred percent record with a goalless tie.

BHOYS CRUISE
CSL titlists Lansdowne Bhoys bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Rovers the previous week to thrash Central Park Rangers 4-0 at Tibbetts Brook Park.

Overlapping fullbacks Joseph Agoo [25th] and Karim Russell [40th] hit pay dirt with first half goals assisted by Gareth McGlynn and Stephen Roche, respectively. Papa Thioune [70th] and Daryl Kavanagh [80th] killed off CPR on resumption.

Conor Hunter scored a penalty in the reserves’ 1-1 draw.

CELTIC RELIEF
Hitherto winless Manhattan Celtic finally came good with a 5-0 drubbing of Hoboken FC at Pier 5 in Brooklyn. Captain Adam Mitchinson, Joe Cooper [two], Jon Juchno and Austin McCann tallied.

“It’s a great feeling knowing we executed everything well,” said Celtic’s 23 year-old coach Matt Kane. “Overall, probably the worst second half of soccer in years,” remarked Hoboken’s Bill Marth.

Their reserves drew 1-1 after Hoboken’s Greg Pilla [45th] had canceled out Colin Hutzler goal [29th].

STAL WIN
Also in the CSL First Division, Mettin Copier and Dritan Sela were the Stal Mielec heroes in Boonton, N.J., where the Poles blanked hosts New York Croatia 2-0.

DOXA REIGN
Unbeaten Doxa [3-0-2, 11] edged New Amsterdam United 1-0 on James Zaidan’s strike at Laurel Park to remain a point ahead of Shamrock on the Division Two table.

Ahmed Yansaneh, Akay Nuredini and Foti Bouklis were on target in the Doxa reserves’ 3-0 triumph.

SHOOT-OUT
Shamrock, meanwhile, outgunned Manhattan Kickers 4-3 at St. Michael’s Playground in Flushing despite a hat trick from the latter’s Mohamed Abdelwahab.

Abdelwahab pegged back Nikle Guzijan’s bullet header [10th] and then scored again [15th pen.] to put Kickers ahead. However, Sean Doran, skipper Sean Steed and Man of the Match Santiago Rigby hit back before the interval to make it 4-2.

Abdelwahab completed his trey early in the second half but the Irishmen [3-1-1, 10] held on for the win.

Kickers ‘B’ were blown out 9-0 with Sean Hand [three], Leandro Fregossi [two], Jim Wong [two, Paul McDaid and Anthony Carrabotta the Shamrock marksmen.

POOR CD
Champions CD Iberia remain winless in the second tier following their latest loss, a 1-0 decision to New York Ukrainians, whose Joseth Betras scored [20th] at McCarren Park.

“Very hard game,” conceded Ukrainian coach Steve Kovalenko.

His reserves had a goal from Kevin Young in a 2-1 defeat.

THE SUPREMES
Rookie side New York Supreme made it two wins in a row with a 7-1 shellacking of FC Japan on Randalls Island.

Amanfo Assibu [two], Mohammed Bagaru, Maxwell Barfoe [two], Bobby Akumah and Jeff Asare tallied. Their reserves won 3-1.

TOUGH LOSS
In a reserve encounter at Evander Childs High  School, Sporting Astoria dropped a 2-1 decision to NYPD FC.

Astoria missed a penalty then fell a goal behind. Johan Clarke leveled but the hosts conceded a free kick from which the Cops bagged the winner.

“Tough loss,” Ed Romero rued the missed penalty. “After scoring 17 goals in our first four games we were held to just one. The size and physical presence of the NYPD reserve team had a lot to do with it. These kids were not ready for such physicality.”

SIX-SHOOTER
FC Gwardia saw off NYC Vllaznia 6-0 at Corporal Thompson Park. And with New York Ittihad crashing 3-2 to Lansdowne Bhoys, the rout elevated the Poles into first place in Metro Div. One West.

Konrad Sobotka [three], Marcin Januszko [two] and Bartlomiej Stolarczyk gunned down Vllaznia.

IRISH JIG
Gwardia had Lansdowne’s Johnny McGeeney to thank for his hat trick in the Irishmen’s 3-2 win at Tibbetts Brook Park that helped knock Ittihad off the top.

According to coach Marty Griffin, McGeeney’s first was a powerful header from a Damien Mescall corner. His second was another header before he closed the show with a left footer set up by Mark Finn.

FAMILY TIES
Basir Mashriqi, Karimullah Mashriqi and Nasir Mashriqi tallied for Brishna in a 3-all tie with Mr. Dennehy’s on Staten Island.

ARGO’S AGONY
Timur Mone converted a stoppage time penalty to rescue CPR Reds in a 1-1 draw with Gotham Argo on Randalls Island.

Gotham had led from the first half when Nico Eceizabarrena’s effort was deflected into the net.

The result ended the Reds’ hundred percent record but following Vllaznia’s capitulation against Gwardia, the Reds [4-0-1, 13] moved six points clear of their closest rivals.

CATALIN LEVELER
Catalin Ionita’s late equalizer [70th] earned Ridgewood a 1-1 tie with Gotham FC at Bushwick Inlet.

“An underwhelming performance by our team,” rued assistant coach Ovidiu Ordean.

LONE MISSILE
Also in Metro Div. One, the prolific Jo Valentin had misfiring Missile FC’s lone response in a 4-1 bashing by Dynamo SC.

CLOSE CALL
Complacent NYC Metro Stars held off Grenadier Zenith 3-2 in a Metro Two fixture at Red Hook after nearly coughing up a three-goal lead.

John Guengueng [two] and Othman Lantir had the points firmly in the bag when, in coach Edison Calle’s own words, “we complicated [things] for ourselves in the last ten minutes and they scored twice.”

Metro Stars [4-0-1, 13] lead FC Spring Valley Huerto United by a point on the table.

MOLA CHALLENGE
Third place Mola SC are just three points off the pace with a game in hand after pipping AO Brooklyn 3-2 at Abraham Lincoln High School, courtesy of Vito Coldonato [two] and Kanijah Lucien.

SLUMP
Williamsburg International, the scorer of 30 goals in their first three games this fall, have now lost two straight. A 5-2 slump to NY Bravehearts at Bushwick Inlet is their latest defeat.

Andreas Moudatsos got the WIFC goals, bringing his tally to ten for the calendar year – or an average of one per game.

Jonathan Jacob, Diego Soto, Diego Mayanga and Oumar Maybe [two] did the damage for Bravehearts.

LYNCHPIN
Joaquín Lynch starred with four goals in Barnstonworth Rovers’ 7-3 trouncing of SC Eintracht on Randalls Island. Matt Donovan [two] and Jorge Español accounted for the others.

Jason Yim and Artur Galstian [two] replied for Eintracht.

FURY TAMED
Elsewhere in Metro Div. Two, Anis Khattate [two] and Ergys Janku [two] lifted NYFC Iilira past Metro City Fury Athletic 4-2.

PERFECT ROCKS
In Over-30 action, Shamrock preserved their perfect record with a 1-0 defeat of CPR Grays in a top-of-the-table clash on Randalls Island.

Alex Berne [70th] struck the winner for the Div. One leaders [4-0, 12].

SIBLING RIVALRY
Sister teams Manhattan Kickers Over-30 and Manhattan Kickers Premier left East River Park with a point apiece from a 2-2 draw.

The Over-30s’ David James Stewart leveled with a late header after Nick Bill had canceled out Bryan Picariello’s go-ahead goal and then put Premier, the Div. One champs, ahead.

“I guess a tie was a fair result against the reigning champs, but I’m [peeved] we gave up the chance to take all three points,” fumed Eddie Yee Woo Guo.

PREMIER TIE
Barnstonworth Premier also tied 2-2 with CPR Old Boys. Nedgy Nazon and Mike Butler scored.

GREASED
Kiriakos Mallias [three], Dimitis Theodoropoulos and Panagiotis Spinos scripted a 5-2 Greek Over-30 result over BW Gottschee.

MEGA FALL
In another Over-30 Div. One fixture, Manhattan Celtic Legends beat Mega Alexandros 3-1, thanks to Souleymane Diallo [two] and Addison Quale.

LEGENDS PREVAIL
His CPR Legends may have prevailed 6-0, but according to Manohar Venkataraman it was no walk in the park against old foes Hoboken FC Veterans.

“Hoboken always provides CPR with a tough physical game and this one was no exception, regardless of the final score,” he said. “It took the best passing of the season from the new squad gelling together to break Hoboken down.”

When the proverbial dust had settled on Randalls Island, Willian D’Andrea had a hat trick and two assists; Chris Williams and Tom Pattinson each had a goal and two assists, while John Hodges had struck with the last kick of the game.

ANDY GOAL
Eintracht were the other winners in the Over-35.  Goals by Andres Garcia [two] and Vinny Vasconcelos dispatched Barnstonworth 3-1.

Growing Pains

esclogoBy Tim Hall

Saturday saw the New York Red Bulls take a big step towards qualifying for the MLS Playoffs with a 1-0 win over Houston Dynamo.

Thierry Henry scored the game winner ninety seconds into the second half, and the defense did just enough to make it stand up, despite a four-minute ‘thanks for coming’ substitute performance from designated player Tim Cahill who got a red card before he could work up a good sweat.

But, most importantly, noted film and television star Sarah Jessica Parker was at the game, and by God, if Carrie Bradshaw doesn’t get those turnstiles spinning like a tornado, nothing will!

That’s facetious, of course. Miss Parker is probably a very nice person, but Red Bull Arena as a place for the powerful and popular to see and be seen is not a sustainable path to selling out the Cathedral on Cape May Boulevard. Athletes, models, musicians, actors. All have come to catch a match, and none have had any meaningful effect on the attendance, and frankly if you’re the sort of person that wants to be at a Red Bulls game or, really, anywhere else just because someone famous is there or has been there at one point, it’s probably time to reassess your values.

However, as we know, nature abhors a vacuum; don’t criticize if you won’t create.

Attendance is a funny issue in Major League Soccer. Don’t have enough of it, and fans from other teams will mock you for it, as though supporters are in some way responsible for packing the house with anyone other than themselves. If your team actually does have a sellout, then the focus of scorn will turn to something else. One popular riff is on certain teams having audiences so lily white that if it were a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan, they might consider doing some diversity outreach.

The argument that it’s the responsibility of the populace to “grow the game” or “grow the league” is patently ridiculous, but we may as well give “grow the attendance” a shot, just for fun. For the New York Red Bulls, an actual, honest-to-goodness, no fooling with the numbers sellout is hard to come by. There are a number of reasons: the team may not be in good form, the opposition may not be mouthwatering, weather, high-definition televisions, et cetera.

But, ignoring all the excuses, and presuming that RBNY hasn’t shot themselves in the foot by scheduling a match for 1pm on a weekday afternoon in the middle of a summer heat wave (which they have, on multiple occasions), what is the path to a sellout at RBA being a regular occurrence?
The answers, it shouldn’t surprise you, are complex and layered. Some people seem to believe that if this team could get some coverage in the local media, that would cure the problem in one shot. These people consider the attendance issue to be one not of perception but of visibility. A word of caution there: supporters of this team and this league have been banging that drum since the whole thing was founded, and it has gotten us nowhere. And even when it does, when the ivory towers of media deign to cast their gaze upon us, it usually goes wrong. Remember, these are people who don’t care about soccer, and when you’re asked to speak about something you don’t care about, it tends to show in either your tone or your quality.

A recent example: there are three major New York newspapers. Two of which – the Post and the Daily News – are the sort of slop that would make Johanes Gutenberg reconsider his invention. That leaves the venerable New York Times. Twice recently the Grey Lady has run stories on MLS, or, at least tried to. The first, under the headline “Henry and Red Bulls Top Dynamo”, actually featured a recap of a Manchester City game. The second this week was an article on David Villa and Frank Lampard coming to MLS and how their signings gave the league “authenticity.” And just so you’re aware, it’s perfectly alright to make the uncomfortable cringe you just did. We all had the same reaction.

So the media can help, but usually doesn’t. And while it is unfair to put the attendance credit or blame on people who showed up anyway, we can do a fair bit to either help or hurt the issue ourselves. Talking up the experience, bringing an interested friend, these are obvious. But there are other ways as well. One can’t look at related internet sites without placing both hands on their head and wondering aloud how anyone would subject themselves to this misery. Give it a rest. Yes, concessions are more often than not a nightmare. You know this already. But, the arena is located within walking distance of any number of fine bars and restaurants. Do your eating and drinking there, and maybe skip the line for a $12 beer you don’t need anyway.  And stuff the complaints about the arena being in New Jersey, New York City folks. There are people driving from much farther away than you are coming via one of the world’s best mass transit systems. Any critique of how many transfers you have to make to get to RBA should start and finish with the phrase “I’m lazy.”

As for the sales and marketing people who actually get paid to worry about this sort of thing, what a thankless, Sisyphean job they have. They must realize, now that the new arena smell has left RBA, the average attendance – the real number, not the inflated “tickets sold” one – is usually around 10,000 less than capacity. Lord knows they’ve tried every trick in the sports book, but all the t-shirts and bobbleheads aren’t going to really hook anyone into repeatedly coming back game after game, week after week. Knowing this fanbase and the law of diminishing returns, the team could hand out a gold bar at the gate every week, and, provided one didn’t end up smashing a referee or a player in the head at some point, the complaint would eventually be raised that we should be getting two gold bars a week.

If the Red Bulls really want to grow attendance, there is only one answer. No amount of fireworks displays or celebrities or giveaways will ever draw more than the number one cure to small crowds: a winning team. That’s it. Win consistently and the crowds will be there, you’ll be turning them away at the gate. Does that paint us as awful frontrunners? Of course, because that is what people around here are. It’s happened through the lean years and the championship years for every New York sports team, and on that, the Red Bulls are on the same level with the same problems.

Now, how to construct a winning team? Sadly, looks like we’re out of space this week.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Saturday, October 11: New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC – New York has a history of being the nogoodnicks that keep Toronto from the playoffs. Now, even with Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, we might do it again. Join the Empire Supporters Club at El Pastor (570 Market St. Newark) for that hilarity.

Playing For The USA: Joe Gyau

GyauBy Sean Bulvanoski

Speed kills. It is the most essential element during a counterattack to help a team outnumber an opponent’s defense and exploit the man advantage in order to create quality scoring chances.

Aside from DeAndre Yedlin, speed was largely absent from the wing for the USMNT in Brazil this past summer. Landon Donovan used to provide this speed on the wing. This was perfectly illustrated by the game-winning goal against Algeria in the final group stage match during the 2010 World Cup where he scored on the break after receiving a quick outlet from Tim Howard. Speed in the attack was also a large reason why Eddie Johnson and Charlie Davies were able to find a place for them on the USMNT over the years.

That lack of speed this summer, among other things, is why the offense in Brazil seemed stagnant at times. The need for groundbreaking speed on the USMNT roster is one of the reasons why Joseph Claude “Joe”Gyau is one of the most intriguing attacking prospects for the USMNT.

The 22 year-old Florida native played club soccer in Maryland before joining the IMG Academy in 2009. In 2011, after two sharp years at the academy, Joe signed with German club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim II, and was quickly promoted to their first team. In the summer of 2014 he was transferred to Borussia Dortmund II, the 3rd division side in the Bundesliga which serves as the U-23 team for the renowned Borussia Dortmund, after having played on loan at FC St.Pauli.

Borussia Dortmund II is a fertile breeding ground to cultivate Gyau’s talent, but as many Americans have found, breaking into the first team of a major European side is a difficult task. Despite this, the primary benefit of playing for a major European club team is the competition for roster spots and the superior coaching staff. Joe Gyau has the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest coaches and talent developers in the game, Jurgen Klopp, and his time within the development system at Borussia Dortmund could prove invaluable to his growth as a player.

In fact, Gyau did not have to wait long to make his debut on the first team. On September 22nd he came in as a substitute in the 74th-minute in a 2-2 draw against Vfb Stuttgart after being an unused substitute in the previous two matches. He played a solid match where he almost had an assist and completed 8 of 9 passes but the most important thing to note about his debut, and his spot on the bench in the previous two games, is what both mean for his first team prospects this season. A consistent selection for the first team roster means that Joe gets to train day in and day out with some of the top talent in the world as well as exposure to the lectures and unique teaching style of one of the world’s most respected coaches and his staff. There are not many American talents who can boast those credentials and it is why Joe Gyau is poised to be an important part of the future of the USMNT’s attack.

Currently, Jozy Altidore is the focal point of the front line; but he could use a quick, creative winger to work off his hold-up play and provide crosses. Speed and creativity is a missing element of the current USMNT attack and Joe Gyau can be the player that provides both. He is an incredible athlete who shows great strength on the ball and is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. During the recent game against Czech Republic he showed what he can add to the team going forward. At times he was not as effective but he showed the intangibles which US soccer fans have been clamoring for. His tremendous upside, coupled with the perfect environment to nurture his development, has led many to believe that he is certain to make the 2018 USMNT World Cup roster. The most important part of insuring his inclusion is whether he gets the requisite playing time to gain experience and develop his abilities. Thankfully, his rise to the bench of Borussia Dortmund’s first team roster could not have come at a better time due to their current underwhelming form and injuries to Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Whether he manages to exploit this opportunity still remains to be seen.

There will be growing pains for him as there are for most USMNT prospects. Jurgen Klinsmann demands his players to be playing against top competition but players do not develop as quickly riding the bench, no matter where they are playing. Riding the bench at Borussia Dortmund is not necessarily better than starting every game at Utrecht, and for that reason players such as Joe Gyau are always under the threat of losing their form.

Former US international David Wanger is the current coach of Borussia Dortmund II so he will make sure to get the most out of Joe Gyau when he is playing for Borussia Dortmund II. However, Gyau needs first team experience in order to reach his full potential.

Julian Green went to Hamburg on loan to help himself find playing time and Joe Gyau may have to do the same to insure his talent does not stagnate. If he can remain in form and utilize his opportunity to train under one of the greatest coaches and teams in the world then he can add a new dynamic to the USMNT offense that was so lacking in the 2014 World Cup.

Sean is Co-Founder of The93rdMinute