By Ben Tetelman

Spotlight: NYC Afghanistan
In many ways, the Cosmos Copa has brought together the various multiethnic populations that reside in the greatest city in the world. For those participating in the Copa tournament, it is a chance to come together and compete in one of the top adult soccer tournaments in the United States.
For Waheed Khosdal and many first generation Afghan’s playing for NYC Afghanistan, the Cosmos Copa means unity.
“This tournament means a lot to us and our community. It gives us an opportunity for all of us to come together and build something in which we are all equally accepted and dedicated to,” said Khosdal.
2014 will not be NYC Afghanistan’s first Copa appearance. While the team has yet to advance deep into the knockout stages of the tournament, Khosdal is confident that star players Mohammad Yusef Mashriq and Nicholas Pugliese will lead the team to their first playoff berth.
Mashriq, who played four years of college soccer at Long Island University, is currently a member of the Afghanistan National Team.
Pugliese is known throughout the football community for his role in breaking the barriers between the United States and Afghanistan through sport. Pugliese was born in Rochester, N.Y. and took a telecommunications job in Kabul shortly after graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts. While playing amateur football in Afghanistan, Pugliese caught the eye of Afghan Premier League side Ferozi FC. Shortly after his trial with the club, Pugliese was offered a contract, making him the first American to play professional football in Afghanistan.
NYC Afghanistan will join Chile, Ghana, and Uruguay in Group G.
NYC Chile
Who would have thought that in 2014 La Roja would defeat the mighty Spain on the largest of stages in world football? The celebration may continue as another international tournament will give Chile an opportunity to shock the football world again. The Cosmos Copa is just a week away, and while NYC Chile has never made it past the group stage of the tournament, they will look to mimic the success their fellow countrymen have had thus far in São Paulo.
NYC Ghana
Edwin Boney and NYC Ghana are set to return to New York City’s biggest stage this summer. The African side is no stranger to the Copa tournament, competing in the first Cosmos Copa in 2009 and advancing to the quarterfinals. Subsequent appearances, however, have proven to be a challenge for NYC Ghana. The side has failed to appear in the knockout stages of the tournament since the inaugural Copa. So will 2014 be a historic year for the Black Stars, or will Ghana make an early departure?

NYC Uruguay
For years, football fans and experts have wondered how a country so small could accomplish things so big. Uruguay, a country of only three million, is the smallest nation to ever win a World Cup. The little South American nation has also produced some of the biggest talent in world football in players like Luis Suarez and Diego Godin. NYC Uruguay, led by team president Jorge Gonzalez, will look to capture their first ever Cosmos Copa championship this year. A lack of success in past Copa’s will be the driving force behind La Celeste in 2014.