2014 QUARTERFINALS PREVIEW: MATCH THREE
By Ben Tetelman
Each week we inch closer and closer to crowning a champion of NYC, and this weekend there are some exciting quarterfinals matches to be played. The third match of the weekend will feature a battle between NYC Ireland and NYC Poland for a spot in the semifinals.
Out of the 40 teams that entered the tournament this year, NYC Poland has, undeniably, the most illustrious history at Cosmos Copa. With the experience of back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011, a finals appearance in 2012, and a quarterfinals appearance in 2013, NYC Poland knows how to win big games.
Despite beating a strong NYC Haiti 3-0 in the group stage last weekend, NYC Poland played very uncharacteristically against other opponents. Their loss to NYC USA showed competitors that the almighty Poland was in fact of this world.
After leading 1-0 against the Yanks, NYC Poland conceded three straight goals and wound up losing the match 3-1. However, NYC Poland did not let things deflate after the early loss in the group stage. The team went on to win the group with two victories and six points in Group C.
Sometimes it is better to test your nerves in the group stage. For NYC Poland, their next big challenge will come this weekend at Flushing Meadows Park, when they take on NYC Ireland.
NYC Ireland’s run in the Cosmos Copa, in many ways, compares favorably to Poland’s dominance. Like NYC Poland, many throughout the tournament have feared the Irish. Deemed a contender to win it all, their two-win performance in the group stage earned them a number two seed behind NYC Gambia in Group A.
Letting up just two goals in all competition, including the qualifying round, NYC Ireland’s strength has been their back four. President of NYC Ireland and ESPN soccer analyst Tommy Smyth was excited for his team after a strong performance in the Group Stage.
“Well done NYC Ireland who had 2 wins and a draw to advance to the next round out of a very tough group,” Smyth tweeted this past Sunday morning after his team solidified its quarterfinal berth.
A trip to the knockout rounds of the tournament is nothing new for NYC Ireland, who made three straight elimination round appearances between 2009 and 2011.
Both NYC Poland and NYC Ireland have experience in big games. Ireland, who have yet to lose a game in 2014, will face off against NYC Poland at Flushing Meadows Park this Saturday morning for a chance to return to the semifinals, a stage they have not been able to reach since 2011.
With a powerful defense, it will be interesting to see if NYC Poland can penetrate deep into the offensive third. NYC Ireland will look to capitalize on Poland’s vulnerability in the back and mimic NYC USA’s winning template.