2014 QUARTERFINALS PREVIEW: MATCH FOUR
By Ben Tetelman
The final match of the 2014 Cosmos Copa Quarterfinals could yield one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. Defending champions NYC France will enter the round off a decisive win against NYC Afghanistan, while NYC El Salvador will enter the quarterfinals having squeaked out of Group B.
The defending champions of Cosmos Copa will enter the quarterfinals as the number one seed out of Group D. Topping the so-called “group of death” was no easy feat for NYC France, who found themselves playing catch-up with dark horse contender NYC Afghanistan in the race for first.
France’s struggles started early with a 0-0 draw to NYC Italy. With only one point in the group, NYC France knew they would have to bury every scoring opportunity if they wanted a chance to hoist the cup for a second consecutive year.
But the struggles continued for Les Bleus of NYC as they conceded an uncharacteristic goal to NYC Albania, whose hustle and aggressiveness showed just how much they wanted to beat NYC France.
Just when it seemed like NYC France was deflating and would fail to see a second straight knockout round appearance, something clicked. Passing became smoother, talk became louder, and suddenly France had found their composure once again.
Finishes from Farid Benramdane and Cyril Coisne jolted the French ahead of NYC Albania to complete a 3-2 comeback victory.
NYC France showed the Copa community this past weekend why they believe they can win two tournament championships in a row. Having the ability to fight back in tough games is a key factor, especially in the knockout rounds of the tournament.
The ability to finish clinically is perhaps NYC France’s greatest quality. With a quarterfinals match against a team that only scored once in all group stage competition, NYC France will look to find an early lead and let their strong back four dictate the flow of the game.
NYC El Salvador:
NYC El Salvador is somewhat of a mystery for all who have watched them compete in the 2014 Cosmos Copa. The Central American side possesses perhaps the greatest ability to create scoring opportunities, but has had a severe lack of finishing.
With a three-way tie in Group B, NYC El Salvador’s lone goal against NYC Mexico earned them a spot as the number two seed heading into the quarterfinals. The goal marked the first in all group stage competition for El Salvador.
You could feel a sense of relief following the victory over NYC Mexico. The Salvadorans had been pressing competitors all day but could not find the back of the net on any chances.
If NYC El Salvador wants to compete with defending champions NYC France this weekend, they will have to sharpen their finishing. With nimble speed on the offensive end, NYC El Salvador will hope to disrupt what has been a secure back four for NYC France.
True champions unveil their nature when the game matters most. We will see if NYC El Salvador has what it takes to defeat the mighty France this weekend at Flushing Meadows Park.