MEET THE COSMOS COPA BEST XI
GK - Marcin Czweinski (NYC Poland): After not having to make many saves in the group stages, Czwerinski came up big for the two-time champions during the knockout round of Cosmos Copa, most notably in the semifinals and the final. He was the main reason the Poles reached their third consecutive final as he recorded two saves in a dramatic penalty shootout versus Senegal. In the final, the goalkeeper made a number of impressive second half saves, including one from the penalty spot, which kept Poland in a match that NYC Haiti was seemingly running away with.
DEF - Lukasz Bielen (NYC Poland): Bielien once again proved that he is a top class defender as his play at right back solidified the rock solid Polish defense. However, Bielien’s worth was truly realized in Poland’s quarterfinal match against the United States. The defender was suspended due to a red card in the last group stage match and the Polish defense sorely missed their right back in the Quarterfinals where they had their worst performance of the tournament, conceding three goals to the Americans.
DEF - Mame Samb (NYC Senegal): NYC Senegal’s captain was one of the most imposing forces at this year’s Cosmos Copa. His physical prowess and impressive ability to read the game helped Senegal concede only two goals throughout the entire tournament, easily the best defensive record of any team.
DEF - Souleymane Kone (NYC Senegal): Kone had a breakout tournament as his performance at left back not only played a significant role in producing Senegal’s impressive defensive statistics, but it also added a new dimension to the Senegalese attack as his ability to attack down the flanks gave his team added numbers in the final third.
MID - Jean Baptiste Fritzon (NYC Haiti): This year’s Golden Ball winner struck fear into the hearts of every defender that was tasked with marking him. His rare mix of strength and finesse saw him garner man of the match honors in both the semifinals and the championship match. After his exploits against Bolivia and Poland, Fritzson ended the tournament with three goals and an assist to his name. Even more telling than his stats, the Haitian’s three goals came from a long distance strike, an unbelievable individual run at the defense, and a header; further proving his remarkable versatility on the pitch.
MID - Harold Junior Charles (NYC Haiti): Charles was the conductor of a Haitian attack that managed to score a whopping 15 goals at Cosmos Copa. The central midfielder notched two of his own in Haiti’s 2-0 quarterfinal victory over NYC Jamaica along and added an assist in his team’s 5-1 thrashing of Bolivia in the semifinals. However, like Niziolek, Charles’ importance does not lay in his stats, his presence on the field, alone, took Haiti to a championship level.
MID - Teddy Niziolek (NYC Poland): Niziolek had yet another awe inspiring tournament as his ability to dominate the midfield saw him positively influence every match he played in. The midfield maestro notched three goals and one assist at this year’s Copa, but his impressive stats still fail to do justice to his importance to NYC Poland.
MID - Chris Bayon (NYC USA): Bayon had an unusually quiet group stage after he managed to net six goals in the qualifying rounds. However, in the quarterfinals, Bayon had a man-of-the-match performance as he scored two of the United States’ three goals and nearly carried a team with a depleted squad to an upset victory over the heavily favored Poles.
FWD - Kevin Riveros (NYC Bolivia): Riveros is the youngest inclusion in the Best XI, but he may very well have the most natural talent. The striker led debutants Bolivia to a semifinal appearance and blew opponents and fans away with his ability to race past defenders with just a drop of the shoulder. However, he’ll likely be remembered for scoring two beautiful goals in as many minutes in Bolivia’s quarterfinal clash with Greece.
FWD - Yvener Guerrier (NYC Haiti): Guerrier’s six goals at Cosmos Copa earned him the coveted Golden Boot Award. Each one of the Haitian front man’s goals came during a group stage display that impressed players and pundits alike. Although he failed to find the back of the net during the knockout rounds, Guerrier’s physical presence deflected defensive pressure away from his teammates, allowing them to carry NYC Haiti to its first Cosmos Copa title.
FWD - Chris Karcz (NYC Poland): The Golden Ball winner from 2010, Karcz entered the 2012 tournament coming off of a serious knee injury. Although his performances this year weren’t as spectacular as the ones he produced two years ago, the forward displayed some high level soccer, including a blistering strike against the United States in the quarterfinals. His three goals at this year’s Copa, including his imaginative play, further proved that he is still one of the classiest players that this tournament has to offer.
MANAGER - Walter Leigue (NYC Bolivia): NYC Bolivia was one of the surprise teams of Cosmos Copa 2012. They were extremely organized throughout the tournament and were able to navigate their way through the Qualification Tournament and all the way to the Semifinals where they lost to eventual champions, NYC Haiti. Their manager, Walter Leigue, was able to get the most out of his slightly limited group of players and claim some big scalps along the way including NYC Greece and NYC Italy.