GROUP STAGE: DAY 1 RECAP
CLICK ON A MATCH TO SEE THE FULL MATCH RECAP:
|Group A||Group B|
|NYC Argentina 0-1 NYC Bolivia||NYC Greece 1-0 NYC Ivory Coast|
|NYC Colombia 1-0 NYC Italy||NYC Ireland 1-1 NYC Senegal|
|Group C||Group D|
|NYC Poland 3-1 NYC Afghanistan||NYC France 2-3 NYC USA|
|NYC Jamaica 1-0 NYC Uruguay||NYC England 1-2 NYC Haiti|
Bolivia-Argentina was one of the most physical matches of the tournament, with both sides constantly tackling and aggressively fighting for every ball. Thus, the story of the game was free kicks, with both sides struggling to capitalize on the opportunities awarded to them. In the end, Bolivia prevailed 1-0 to take an early Group A lead.
In the 12th minute a free kick by Bolivian forward Julio Cesar Nosta from 25 yards out snuck nearly untouched all the way through the defense to the right post, but the Argentinian Keeper, Nelson DiBastiano snatched it up.
However, just two minutes later, Bolivia managed to punt a beautiful ball all the way to the left corner, which Bolivian forward Jose Cesar Linares crossed just out of DiBastiano’s grasp, allowing Bolivia's Diego Oña to head it into the top right corner of the net. Oña immediately kept running, jumped onto the bleachers, and climbed a net dramatically to bask in the cheers of his adoring fans.
From there on out, the best opportunities resulted from ste pieces. In the 22nd minute, Argentinean midfielder Diego Gorosito had a free kick from about 20 yards out, but he hit it directly into the Bolivian wall.
Just after halftime, after being the beneficiary of yellow card, Bolivian forward Luis Martinez had a beautiful free kick from about 20 yards out that went to the far post, but DiBastiano was up to the task once again. Only a minute later, Bolivia had another free kick from nearly the exact same spot to try and extend their lead, but it went just over the crossbar.
Argentina, desperate for offense, resorted to some acrobatic play. Forward Maximiliaon Garcia attemted a diving volley, that nearly found the net, but the Bolivian keeper, Marco Ortiz made a fantastic diving save.
In the 40th minute, Bolivian forward Fabian Brizuela had a fantastic shot from about 15 yards that DiBastiano saved.
Things really got nasty in the 43rd minute when Bolivian striker, Kevin Riveros was elbowed in the face and was down for about five minutes as medics attended to him. This resulted in a straight red card for Argentina's Lucas Herrera. Down a man, Argentina weren't able to generate any more offense, and the 1-0 score stood.
Man of the Match: Diego Oña (NYC Bolivia)
The other Group A matchup of the day saw NYC Colombia defeat NYC Italy in an extremely intense and emotional affair.
After a lackluster first 20 minutes, Gianluca Salza created Italy’s first clear-cut scoring chance late into the first half when he slalomed past a couple of defenders and managed a shot on goal that the Colombian defense easily blocked. However, Pietro Sgueglia fired a shot on target after controlling the rebound only for the Colombian keeper, to save comfortably.
Immediately after the restart, Niebles Hemir beat his marker down the left wing and sent a threatening shot towards goal that the Italian keeper, Giovanni Russo, tipped over with his fingertips.
After building up some momentum after their latter chance, Colombia threatened the Italian defense once again when Kevin Mesa crossed to Mauricio Turizo, whose header was narrowly saved.
As the match got chippier due to the physical play of both teams, Colombian recieved a yellow card when Yesid Riascos attempted a studs-up tackle on Mathew Uy. Thankfully, Uy walked away from the challenge without any injuries.
While both teams began to compose themselves after the wild challenge on Uy, Colombia’s Kevin Correa nearly gave his side the lead but his low, fizzing shot missed just wide, sending the Colombian fans into a frustrated frenzy.
However, Niebles Hemir did one better than his teammate when he fired past the Italian keeper from 10 yards out with about five minutes left in the match, all but giving his team a vital victory going into day 2 of group stage play.
As soon as the final whistle blew, the Colombian benched erupted in celebration, clearly signaling to the Italians that the group stages of Cosmos Copa are on a whole different level than the qualifying rounds.
Man of the Match: Kevin Correa (NYC Colombia)
Ivory Coast's match against Greece wasn’t likely to be a very high scoring affair, as neither squad averaged more than a goal per game over the past two years of Copa play, and the 1-0 Greece victory certainly didn’t help any of their offensive stats. This played out on the field as the match was a disjointed affair with neither team able to generate much going forward.
In the 23rd minute, Ivory Coast had one of the best chances of the game when Greek goalkeeper Dimitris Touros grew frustrated when he was ruled to have touched the ball when it had already crossed the back line. He punted it high in the air, getting it momentarily caught in a net before it came down. However, his outburst went unpunished.
After a scoreless first half, Greece finally opened the scoring on a beautiful goal from striker Chris Megaloudis in the 40th minute, courtesy of a nimble pass across the box from forward Christos Zisimatos, who had deftly manouvered throught the Ivory Coast's defense and put the ball on a platter for Megaloudis to tap home.
As the Ivory Coast grew desperate for a goal, things got a bit testy. However, the one goal lead stood, and the Greeks went to the top of Group B.
Man of the Match: Chris Megaloudis (NYC Greece)
NYC Ireland played an inspiring match as they drew 1-1 with last year's runner-up, NYC Senegal.
Just three minutes into the match, Souleymane Kone gifted the Irish the first chance of the game when he cheaply gave the ball away in his own half. However, the Senegalese keeper, Malick Faye beat the onrushing Craig Purcell to the ball before he could poke it home.
Senegal nearly took the lead themselves immediately after their early mishap but a headed chance hit the woodwork.
Mamadou Doudou Diouf threatened to find the opener for Senegal when he raced past three defenders only to see his left-footed shot miss just wide.
As things began to simmer down after a hectic first ten minutes, Senegal started to assert themselves as they controlled the majority of possession. However, despite their prowess at keeping the ball, their hesitant passing in the final third kept them from finding the opening goal and sent them into halftime with nothing to show from their efforts.
Just five minutes into the second half, Senegal finally opened the scoring after executing a lighting quick counter-attack that exposed the Irish’s lack of pace. After receiving a diagonal ball near the halfway line, the explosive Diouf raced passed two Irish defenders and beat the keeper with a composed finish.
However, Ireland, found an equalizer against the run of play late into the second half after a confusing scuffle in the box off of a corner kick. The goal was awarded to Austin Friel even though it could have been scored as an own-goal.
As the final whistle blew, Senegal were ruing their missed chances and had to settle for a single point heading into their next two group stage games but the Irish will be delighted to leave Pier 40 with a point.
Man of the Match: Mamadou Doudou Diouf (NYC Senegal)
NYC Poland, the two-time defending Cosmos Copa champs came into their opening match with an intense swagger and bravado, especially against an unheralded Afghanistan squad new to the tournament. While the Afghanis surprised the Poles and hung tight for most of the first half, the Polish offense was too much, and they prevailed in a 3-1 victory.
Polish forward Marcin Janeczko set the tone early with a 20 yard left footed volley that opened the scoring in the 8th minute that Afghanistan should have done better with.
Afghan forward Mohammad Mashriqi had been making noise for most of the first half, but many of his shots were missing the target. However, his tenacity finally paid off in the 22nd minute, when a beautiful cross from the right sideline from Navid Morad snuck in front of the keeper and found Mashriqi, who politely tapped it in to tie it at 1-1.
Afghanistan bore down the hatches at that point, positioning its midfielders further back in the field. Poland tried some acrobatic bicycle kicks, but nothing really worked against the staunch Afghan defense.
During the first half, things got a bit testy, and Poland's Radoslaw Kucharski punched an Afghanistan player after a firm tackle. This started a major ruckus and Kucharski was then swarmed and shoved by a group of Afghanistan players, but the refs broke up the squabble and bizarrely awarded a free kick to Poland.
After the restart, Poland didn’t take long to retake the lead. In the 30th minute, Janeczko centered a pass for striker Lukasz Hausner, who was unmarked to score simply and powerfully from 5 yards out.
Afghanistan tried its best to rally back, but Polish midfielder and last year's tournament MVP, Teddy Niziolek proved to be a remarkable two-way player who shielded the Polish backline.
In the 43rd minute, Poland put the game away to take a two-goal lead when Zbigniew Puzio dashed down the sideline on a breakaway and found Mateusz Brela from about 20 yards out for an easy put-away.
Man of the Match: Marcin Janeczko (NYC Poland)
NYC Jamaica outlasted NYC Uruguay 1-0 in a match that will be remembered for its controversy rather than its soccer.
After a dull opening 15 minutes, Jamaica opened the scoring midway through the first half after a moment of genius from Zaheer Bell when he struck a half volley from 25 yards that left the Uruguayan keeper helpless. As Jamaican fans screamed for joy, many were left wondering if they just witnessed the goal of the tournament.
Although Uruguay’s work rate increased after going down a goal, the rest of the half saw a midfield stalemate with very few attacking opportunities.
Midway through the second half, Max Navarro of Uruguay nearly scored a wonder goal of his own, but his shot missed by inches.
As the game began to reach its waning moments, tempers began to rise as the Uruguayans became more and more frustrated by their inability to find the back of the net. Things escaladed to a point where a member of the Uruguayan bench, Jorge Gonzalez received a red card for improper conduct towards the referee.
After that unfortunate occurrence, NYC Uruguay kept pushing forward but failed to find an equalizer.
Man of the Match: Zaheer Bell (NYC Jamaica)
France-USA promised to be one of the more enticing matches of the tournament, with both teams averaging at least 2 goals per game over the last two years. It certainly didn’t disappoint. NYC USA seems to make a habit of these games following their thrilling wins over Afghanistan and Japan in qualifying, but the late drama combined with the stakes of group play may have made this USA’s most thrilling game yet, as they prevailed 3-2 in a Bastille day brawl.
Play started off somewhat sluggish, though. France appeared to score from a free kick in the 6th minute, but a header went just wide of a wide open net.
USA drew first blood immediately after, as USA forward Andrew Herman charged down the field, played a 1-2 with a teamate and lasered a shot into the net.
Just minutes later, USA forward Kyle Clancy was on a breakaway, thanks to a deft tackle to steal the ball away from a French midfielder, but his shot missed the net and sailed into the upper deck of the Pier 40 concourse.
France didn’t take long to answer, as French forward and Cosmos Copa legend, Zohair Ghenania scored after a series of beautiful quick passes culminating in a 15-yard strike just outside the box that completely fooled the American keeper.
The score remained at one apiece through halftime and well into the second half, as the counter attacking play of the U.S. was somewhat quelled by the ferocious French midfield and their physical defense.
Finally, Zohair Ghenania struck again in the 31st minute, after a beautiful long ball freed him behind the American's defense. He allowed the ball to take two bounces before pouncing on the defenseless American keeper for a shot to the top left corner.
Just one minute later, though, the Americans immediately answered to tie the game at 2-2 on a shot from about 10 yards out from none other than Andrew Herman again.
Each team seemed somewhat tentative from that point on, as neither wanted to concede the deciding goal. The tiebreaker was nearly put in by Anthony Viglietti off a hooking free kick after the American keeper misplayed the ball and let it slip through his hands.
But following that near disaster, Herman saved the day, as he charged down the field in his typical style and buried a shot from about 10 yards out in the back of the net with just three minutes remaining to take a definitive 3-2 lead and dash the French hopes for a victory on Bastille Day.
Things got ugly near the final whistle, though, as the American Oren Nhaissi and Zohair Ghenania exchanged punches, and a near brawl had to be broken up. Things didn’t get prettier from there, as a hard tackle on France's Gabriel Bagot brought yet another free kick. However, Bagot had a rare poor delivery after 50 minutes of near-perfect distribution, and the 3-2 score stood.
Man of the Match: Andrew Herman (NYC USA)
NYC Haiti defeated NYC England 2-1 after a spirited effort that leaves them tied on top of their group after the first day of group stage play.
Haiti came out the gate with bundles of energy and their pace troubled the English. However, after the first 5 minutes of the game passed, England nearly scored the equalizer only for George Fenwick to hit wide.
As the first half progressed, it became increasingly evident that England were struggling to deal with the speed and quick passing of the Haitians as they consistently had clear shots throughout the half, albeit none of them on target.
Despite the English’s lack of pace, they were effective on the counter-attack because of Haiti’s disorganization in the back as they consistently pushed a lot of men forward.
Haiti nearly went into halftime with a lead but Jean Batiste Fritzson's curling effort just missed the top corner after a neat bit of buildup play in the middle of the field.
Three minutes into the second half, Elysee Vilsaint gave Haiti a 1-0 lead after he tapped home from close range. The Haitian bench erupted in cheers and ran onto the field to congratulate their teammate.
Ten minutes later, England nearly found an equalizer against the run of play after a shot from midfield was puched over the crossbar by the Haitian keeper.
Haiti doubled their lead with fifteen minutes left in the match after a controversial ruling that forced the ref to ask one of the sideline officials if the ball crossed the line after a massive goalmouth scramble. Yvener Guerrier was awarded the goal.
Barely aminute after the goal, England earned a penalty. Matt Negus stepped up to the spot and missed the penalty but scored off of the rebound as the ball deflected directly in front of him leaving him with an easy tap in.
Haiti was able to hold onto their lead, leaving England with a lot of work to do on the second day.
Man of the Match: Elysee Vilsaint (NYC Haiti)