2014 QUARTERFINALS PREVIEW: MATCH ONE
By Ben Tetelman
The quarterfinal stage of this year’s Cosmos Copa will feature the eight remaining teams in the tournament fighting for a chance to be crowned champions of New York City.
There will be plenty at stake when play kicks off this weekend at Flushing Meadows Park. Teams that lose will be eliminated from the tournament, and only the winners will have a chance of representing their nation in the Copa Final at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium on August 2.
When NYC USA takes the pitch for the quarterfinals this weekend, it will mark the team's third straight appearance in the knockout stages. Although the Yanks have had great success in the qualifying and group stages of the tournament, they have never reached the semifinals of the Cosmos Copa.
The quarterfinals do not play host to good memories for the red, white and blue. Last year the team suffered a grueling 4-1 defeat to NYC Greece, and a year prior NYC USA lost a tight match to future champions NYC Poland.
NYC USA will hope for a different result in 2014 as they take on NYC Gambia. Gambia, who edged out NYC Ireland for the top seed in Group A, left the group stage with two wins and one tie.
Without a loss in the group stage, NYC USA was able to claim the second seed in their group with one victory and two draws. Perhaps the most important game for the US thus far was their victory over NYC Poland, who wound up winning Group C. NYC Poland, who have been one of the strongest teams in Copa history, were simply outplayed by the Yanks, who were able to net three goals against the two-time Copa champions.
That result proved that NYC USA can compete at a high level, and possesses the ability to fight back from being goals down. Taking on another tough opponent, NYC USA will look to utilize their precise passing and size to overpower NYC Gambia.
NYC Gambia showed competitors why they are a force to be reckoned with this past weekend at Pier 40 and Randall’s Island. “The Scorpions” of NYC allowed just one goal in three games, and were able to emerge as victors of Group A.
With dangerous speed on the flanks, height in the back, and the ability to strike balls from distance, why would any team look forward to playing NYC Gambia?
After losing to NYC Senegal in the knockout rounds last year, NYC Gambia can smell redemption. They may have an opportunity to settle the score against the Senegalese in a rematch of the 2013 semifinals.
Before NYC Senegal can even think about a rematch with their West African neighbors, they will have to beat NYC USA on their home soil. Although the two teams have never met in the knockout rounds, NYC Gambia will look to end the Yanks’ dream of winning the tournament on home turf.