GROUP D PREVIEW
Group D is comprised of two teams on the rise in NYC USA and NYC France, a team attempting to solidify its place amongst the Cosmos Copa elite in NYC England, and an NYC Haiti squad looking to reach the quarterfinals for a third year in a row.
In 2009 and 2010, NYC England lost in the quarterfinals of Cosmos Copa; something all too familiar to the senior international team. In 2011, they broke their quarterfinal curse but lost at the semi-final stage in heartbreaking manner, 6-7 in a penalty shootout to eventual champions NYC Poland. It was a talented team last year full of players of real quality and pedigree. This year, they’ll be quietly confident that they can reach, and win, the final. With a tournament history that has seen steady improvement, one would be hard-pressed to bet against the English from advancing to the knockout stages. NYC England’s Cosmos Copa experience, along with their superb tactical understanding of the game, will help them on their quest for success, However this team has seen an unusual high amount of turnover. Will they be able to stay on their upward trojectory even with all of these new players. Nevertheless, England has been the consummate example of sustained success over the course of Cosmos Copa history. Why should we expect anything different this year?
While it is safe to bet that the English will perform well, it’s up in the air as to what NYC Haiti will put on display at this year’s edition of Cosmos Copa. In 2010, they lost 4-1 on penalties to NYC Argentina. In 2011, they squeaked into the quarterfinals only to be defeated in a 7-2 rout at the hands of eventual runners-up, NYC Senegal. So, going into this year's tournament, it’s impossible to guess how the Haitians will perform. In fact, historically the personaliy of this talented Haitian side seems to change from game to game. One game they play with real attacking verve then the next game they can lose their temper and the plot. Will they display the type of organization that saw them last 120 minutes against NYC Argentina two years ago? Or will they allow teams to carve open their back line in the manner which Senegal did?
As NYC Haiti are entering the group stages with question marks over their heads, NYC USA are strolling into a competition with a real swagger. Even before last year’s debacle that saw the Americans fail to qualify for the group stages, it has been expected that the United States should always fair well in Cosmos Copa simply because they have the largest pool of players to choose from. Understanding the latter fact, current team president, Pat White, has put together a talented and experience-laden squad that breezed through qualifying without any major hiccups. The attacking exploits of Chris Bayon, who scored six goals in his team’s four qualifying matches, along with the team’s ability to keep possession of the ball for long spells have the American’s riding high on confidence. At this point, it seems the sky could be the limit for this American side.
Most will be unassuming when discussing NYC France’s chances at advancing out of the group stages and into the quarterfinals. However, with changes in the English squad, uncertainties with Haiti’s defense, and a United States team that conceded the most goals out of all the group winners from the qualifying tournament, the French have a legitimate chance to advance past the group stages for the second time in their Cosmos Copa history. During qualifying, they put on a professional-like display with their patient build-up play, poise in the middle of the field, and swift breaks while on attack. More than any other team in qualifying, NYC France displayed a tactical astuteness that has the ability to see them advance far into the tournament. And with a seasoned veteran in Zohair Ghenania and a young talent in Adam Maabdi, the French have the perfect balance of invaluable experience and fearless youth.