By Ben Tetelman

Spotlight: NYC Ivory Coast
Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”
Football is the one language that everyone speaks; it is an escape from the bad, it is the light at the end of the tunnel. The power of the beautiful game is, perhaps, best encapsulated in the legend of Les Elephants.
As the legend goes, members of the Ivorian team, who entered their first ever World Cup in 2006, were able to bring peace to a nation at war and political upheaval. It is that same love for the homeland and passion for football that will drive the men wearing the orange and green in the 2014 Cosmos Copa.
Although NYC Ivory Coast have never made it into the knockout rounds of the Copa tournament, team president Vino Lue is confident that his team has the ability to make a historic run in 2014.
“The Ivory Coast is one of the most dominant teams in the Copa with their strong defense… I strongly believe that they are a contender to win it all this year,” said Lue.
Les Elephants will be paired against NYC Holland, along with newcomers Togo and Burkina Faso in Group F.
NYC Holland
Iwan Vandervinne and NYC Holland have been playing with an unparalleled energy in the weeks leading up to the 6th annual Cosmos Copa. Although NYC Holland has never made it past the group stage of the Copa tournament, the team has established a strong friendly schedule to make sure they’re at top form when they arrive at Randall’s Island. The Dutch side defeated NYC Spain and NYC Togo in pre-qualifying friendlies, and has made numerous trips to soccer training facilities in New Jersey to compete against Division One college players. While Vadervinne’s team will feature a lot of new faces in 2014, a lack of quality will be the last of NYC Holland’s problems. They might be the most prepared squad come kick-off.
NYC Togo
Although Togo failed to qualify for the finals of the FIFA World Cup, another tournament presents an opportunity for Les Eperviers to make football history. For the Togolese, the 2014 Cosmso Copa is a chance to showcase their talent, and introduce the city to a heritage that holds football dear to their hearts. This will be NYC Togo’s first Copa tournament, making them proud underdogs in Group F.
NYC Burkina Faso
NYC Burkina Faso will be eager to show New York City who is the strongest of the African nations. But perhaps a bigger challenge for Mahamodou Mickie and Copa newcomer NYC Burkina Faso will be advancing to the Group Stage. The draw did not give Burkina Faso an easy path to the knock-out stages. Paired against an experienced NYC Ivory Coast side and a well-drilled NYC Holland side, will Burkina Faso be able to pull off an upset?