QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT: DAY 2 RECAP
***CLICK ON A MATCH TO SEE THE FULL MATCH REPORT***
***NYC Argentina, NYC Uruguay, NYC France, NYC Ivory Coast, NYC Italy, NYC Bolivia, NYC Afghanistan and NYC USA advance***
Albania and Argentina settled for a 0-0 draw in a clash of two heavyweights from Group 1.
Albania started off the match on a bad note as they had an early scare during a moment of miscommunication between defender Esmir Vucetovic and his goalkeeper. The keeper screamed for the ball, but Vucetovic proceeded to head the ball back towards his own goal thinking his keeper would catch it. With the Albanian keeper out of position, the ball nearly trickled into the net but Albania survived the scare.
Although the first half did not provide any more clear-cut chances, it was a highly physical and end-to-end first 25 minutes. The beginning of the second half saw Albania miss a crucial chance to take the lead when Vectovic shot over the bar from 8 yards out after his teammate expertly cut the ball across the face of goal to set him up.
Things started to get chippy after that incident as both teams started to exert themselves physically in attempts to gain control of the tight affair. As the half wpre on, it seemed as if both teams were calling for fouls every time they were on the attack. As the game drew to a close, the physicality of both teams kept the match in a midfield deadlock besides the occasional shot from distance.
Man of the Match: Artan Balaj (NYC Albania)
NYC Uruguay easily dispatched NYC St. V&G 4-1 with a brace from Hugo Canavarro in a vital match with qualifying implications on the line.
St. V&G began the game with the intent to attack with pace but their best early chance came from a direct free-kick from 25 yards out with a bending shot at goal that just missed high. Despite St. V&G’s early attacking onslaught, Uruguay took the lead thanks to Hugo Canavarro’s simple finish just outside the 6-yard box.
A vital mistake from the St. V&G keeper allowed Uruguay to double their lead after just 15 minutes. The keeper hesitated while in possession and allowed Canavarro to wrestle it away from him. From there, Canavarro coolly knocked the ball into the net.
To make matters worse for St. V&G, their right full back committed a foul on Oscar Silveria in the box to give Uruguay a penalty and the chance to go into halftime up 3-0. Diego Gonzaleza stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball home, leaving the keeper glued to the turf.
The second half did not start in the manner St. V&G were planning, as they conceded yet another penalty just three minutes into the half. Uruguay's Gonzalo Dapia beat the keeper to put his team 4-0 up. Although Uruguay continued to dominate the match as it began to wind down, St. V&G managed to find a consolation goal after an own goal from Uruguay. After a low, bouncing cross was sent into the box, the Uruguayan defense clumsily knocked the ball into their goal.
Man of the Match: Hugo Canavarro (NYC Uruguay)
NYC Argentina booked their spot in the group stages of Cosmos Copa by finishing top of Group 1 after a 2-1 win against a valiant NYC Guyana.
The spirited Guyanese team came out in the first half with real attacking intent despite not having a single man on their bench. The much more physical Argentineans may have missed a few good scoring opportunities, including a shot that hit the post, but NYC Guyana held their own and even matched the physicality of the Argentines. This physicality paid off when Guyana took a surprise 1-0 lead at the stroke of halftime through forward Kevin Beaton.
The beginning of the second half saw more of the same as Argentina struggled to put away the chances they were creating. Argentina squandered a decent opportunity when Alan Marcos Elquart headed over the bar when under no defensive pressure. Argentina began to gain a little attacking confidence as Patricio Acosta sent a bending shot just over the crossbar a few minutes later.
After stalling the Argentine attack for almost three quarters of the game, NYC Guyana finally succumbed to the pressure by conceding a penalty via a hand ball. Jorge Oropel stepped up to take the ensuing penalty and scored by sending the keeper the wrong way for the equalizer.
Argentina took the lead one minute from time thanks to a goal from Diego Mercado after he beat the offside trap and finished slyly past the keeper.
Guyana nobly attempted to find an equalizing goal but they were unable to solve the riddle that was the Argentine backline.
Man of the Match: Diego Mercado (NYC Argentina)
NYC Uruguay booked their ticket to Cosmos Copa with an intense and passionate 2-0 victory over NYC Albania.
Driven on by the songs and drums of their excellent and loyal fans, NYC Uruguay took a first half lead through Hugo Canavarro. Uruguay doubled their lead in the second half through Oscar Silveria.
After the final whistle the Uruguayan team broke into pandemonium with their songs reverberating loudly under the Triboro Bridge. The Uruguayan team left the Qualification Tournament knowing that they had overcome long odds and years of disappointment to finally make it to Cosmos Copa.
Man of the Match: Mathias Jorge (NYC Uruguay)
NYC St. Vincent & Grenadines defeated NYC Guyana 5-4 in a thrilling, end-to-end match.
St. V&G opened the scoring after just five minutes through a strike that went through the arms of the Guyan keeper Sean Lewis as he attempted to make the save. Both teams played carefree as there was nothing riding on the game with both teams already eliminated. Therefore it was no surprise when Matthew Pollard equalized for Guyana just three minutes after they conceded.
Renrick Alexander quickly retook the lead for St. V&G as he slotted the ball past the keeper after receiving the ball in the box with no member of the Guyanese backline to pressure him. St. V&G added to their lead just before halftime after Alexander rose high and headed it home with consummate ease.
Not to be outdone, Guyana's Kevin Beaton finished superbly to score his team’s second before the interval. The first half was a true offensive affair as both teams seemed content to bypass their defensive duties.
Even though both teams began the half sluggishly, Lenex Anderson restored St. V&G's lead with a simple finish after finding himself 1 on 1 with the keeper. Beaton quickly replied with a chipped finish to keep the score line as interesting as possible. His cheeky shot made it 4-3 St. V&G.
The goals kept flowing after Lenox Anderson fired home from two yards out. Just 30 seconds later, Guyana were granted a penalty, which Beaton easily scored to seal his hat trick and make for the most interesting scorleline in the Qualification Tournament.
Man of the Match: Kevin Beaton (NYC Guyana)
France played one of the more lopsided games of the tournament in its 2-0 victory over Croatia, virtually knocking the Croatians out of qualification.
While the score didn’t reflect it, France dominated nearly every aspect of this game. The ball was almost ubiquitously in Croatia’s half, and the French keeper, Julien Weisbecker, hardly had anything to do the whole game. The French struggled to put away the chances that they were creating off set pieces though, and that was why they were only able to win by two goals.
NYC France's first goal came on a strike from about 15 yards out from one of the Qualification Tournament's breakout stars, Adam Maadbi in the 30th minute. He doubled his tally ten minutes later when the French midfielder, Issa Tall put in a beautiful cross that he easliy put into an empty net.
Man of the Match: Adam Maadbi (NYC France)
After a competitive first half where neither team could generate much of an attacking rythm, NYC Paraguay and NYC Liberia traded goals in the second half to draw 1-1.
Five minutes into the second half, Liberia put in a cross that tantalizingly sat up for Charles Dukuly but he could only kick it right at the Paraguayan keeper Dario Cabañas from point blank range, but the ball deflected right into the path of Richard Arkoi, who followed through into the empty net to give Liberia the surprise 1-0 lead.
Cabañas was not happy with his side's defending and took it out on his defender Alcides Esquivel. The two almost came to blows as they yelled in each other’s faces over perceived differences of tactical opinion.
In the 39th minute, Paraguay channeled their frustration and found the equalizer. Paraguay's Julian Cabañas put in a corner, which was cleared by the Liberian defense. Paraguay regained possession immediately though, and put the ball right back into the box and Alcides volleyed it into the goal.
Paraguay went on the attach for the final 10 minutes, but they were unable to take the lead thanks to some spectacular saves by Liberia keeper.
Man of the Match: Eddie Kingston (Liberia)
In a rematch of both last year's Qualification Tournament and Group Stages, the Ivory Coast defeated Croatia 2-1 to effectively kill Croatia's qualification hopes and to put Ivory Coast in a wonderful position to qualify.
Both teams favored a possesion game and displayed some brilliant attacking play. In the sixth minute, Ivory Coast charged down the left flank on a breakaway, and Kevin Lue recieved a fantastic reverse pass and hit a clean shot to off the right post and in to give Ivory Coast the early lead.
Ten minutes later, after some patient buildup in the Croatian half, Amos Zereoue broke through to the keeper, but he couldn't released his shot in time, and the Croatian goalie Marino Vucenik was able to haul it in.
However, the Ivory Coast soon made up for their earlier miss. On a beautiful corner from the right, Diese Yannick leaned in and headed it just out of the keeper’s grasp for the 2-0 lead at half.
The Croatians didn’t take long to answer, though. Kristopher Bistre hit a high arching cross, which looped into the box and found the head of Marin Filopovic, which he buried in the back of the net. Despite some late pressure, the Croatians couldn't find their equalizer and suffered their second defeat of the day.
Man of the Match: Amos Zereoue (NYC Ivory Coast)
Knowing that a win would see them qualify out of Group 2 and into the Group Stages of Cosmos Copa, NYC France put on a mature performance to dispatch of NYC Liberia 3-1.
After just ten minutes, France opened the scoring after a delightful series of 1-2's led to Fabien Desgroux finishing past the Liberian keeper. France's young star striker, Adam Maadbi doubled their lead five minutes later when he pounced on a deflection and coolly slotted the ball home.
France turned on the style in the first half and Maadbi could have had a hat trick but wasted numerous chances in front of goal.
Early in the second half, Issa Tall blazed over the bar with the goalmouth gaping but he made up for that mistake by going on a mazy run in the French box and finishing strongly. The Liberian keeper was able to get a hand to it but it was not enough. The Liberian keeper made a series of great saves to keep the French lead to 3 and his fine play was somewhat rewarded when Liberia pulled one back in the last minute of regulation.
Man of the Match: Adam Maadbi (NYC France)
Knowing that a draw would be good enough to see them through to the Group Stages of Cosmos Copa, NYC Ivory Coast played out a tense 1-1 with NYC Paraguay.
The Ivory Coast was forced to play back-to-back matches, and the fatigue seemed to show in the final match of the day. However the Paraguay defense played an excellent game and deserves a lot of credit stopping the Ivory Coast attack.
In the 17th minute, Ivory Coast had a free kick just outside the Paraguayan box, but one of the defenders in the wall was able to leap up and head away what would have been a sure goal.
Paraguay’s only defensive lapse came in the 23rd minute. After Ivory Coast played a long ball to the left wing, Paraguay thought the ball had gone out for the goal kick. While the keeper and defense looked away, Ivory Coast pounced and tapped in an easy sitter for their only goal of the game. The goal stood, much to Paraguay’s complaints.
Paraguay answered right after halftime, though. Their forward played the ball in from right, and it rebounded off an Ivory Coast defender, who was unable to clear it. The ball landed right in front of goal, and Paraguay's Emiliano Martinez punched it in from 5 yards for the equalizer.
After Paraguay's goal, the match descended into a scrappy affair as both sides seemed more concerned with arguing with their opponents or in some cases, teammates than going for a winner. This played into Ivory Coast's hands as they held on to seal their qualification to Cosmos Copa.
Man of the Match: Emiliano Martinez (NYC Paraguay)
NYC Italy breezed past NYC Egypt in a dominating 5-0 victory.
The first half was controlled exclusively by NYC Italy as they kept the majority of possession, had numerous chances to score, and snuffed out the few counter-attacks that NYC Egypt managed to put together but they were not able to put the ball into the back of the net.
Italy's first chance saw Matia Damiani miss wide on a free header off of a corner. At the end of the first half, NYC Egypt’s keeper make an impressive save on Gianluca Salza, who was clear through on goal.
Intent on capitalizing on their chances, Italy came out all guns blazing in the second half. Just one minute into the second stanza, Italy scored through Frank Alesci. He got onto the end of a lofted through ball, proceeded to head over the keeper and back to himself tap the ball into the net.
Italy’s next goal came barely sixty seconds later when Jeff Matteo received the ball just inside the 18-yard box and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Matteo scored Italy’s next two goals, completing a hat trick for himself. The first of the pair came when he dribbled through the heart of midfield, without any defensive pressure, and beat the keeper from 20 yards out. The second came via penalty, the second that Egypt conceded on the day. Alessio Giacobbone had missed the first one ten minutes earlier.
Italy’s final goal came through Salza who beat the offside trap, dribbled past the keeper, and tapped the ball into the back of the net.
Man of the Match: Jeff Matteo (NYC Italy)
NYC Bolivia defeated NYC Portugal 1-0 in their first of their two crucial games in the second day of qualifying for Cosmos Copa.
NYC Bolivia had a stranglehold of possession in the first half, but the quality of their final ball in the attacking third prevented them from creating any legitimate scoring opportunities. NYC Portugal, on the other hand, struggled to keep the ball and only managed to threaten the Bolivian goal from a couple of 25-yard strikes from David Neves; neither of them on target.
The most noteworthy event of the first half was, unfortunately, a slight scuffle between both teams, which resulted in a yellow card for the Ricardo Veloso of Portugal.
The second half saw NYC Portugal improve their percentage of possession but, like their opponents, they lacked the cutting-edge needed in the attacking third to score. As for Bolivia, their best form of attack was the precise, long-ranged punts from their keeper. The distance and height he was able to get on his punts caused the Portuguese backline all sorts of problems
One noteworthy punt ended up landing on the right foot of Luis Eduardo Martinez all the way in the 18-yard box, but his lack of close control did not allow him to manage a shot on goal.
Just ten minutes from time, Bolivia finally got their breakthrough thanks to a goal from the aforementioned Martinez. After nearly conceding a goal to the Portuguese, NYC Bolivia set off on a counter attack led by Jose Carlos Linares. After a cross and series of miss-kicks in the box, Martinez received the ball six yards out, composed himself, and passed the ball into the corner of the net. The Bolivian bench exploded in celebration, knowing that they had taken one more step towards qualification.
Man of the Match: Diego Oña
NYC Italy secured passage out qualification and into Cosmos Copa with their narrow 1-0 victory over NYC Spain.
Italy’s first scoring opportunity occurred when Gianluca Salza was set free down the right touchline by a lobbed through ball. After taking the ball into the box, he tried to beat the keeper near post but missed wide.
Both teams tried to play possesion soccer with Antonio Trillo in particularly orchestrating the midfield for the Spanish. With about two minutes left in the half, Salza found himself in the same exact spot as he did during the opening minutes, but this time he missed wide after aiming to beat the keeper at his far post.
As the match’s tempo increased Italy's Mathew Uy and Salza nearly found the back of the net on multiple opportunities, but it was Spain that squandered the match’s greatest scoring chance. After a lightning-quick counter attack, Joseph Mendoza could have easily tapped the ball into the net with the Italian keeper out of position, but he took one too many touches, allowing a defender to block the shot that would have given Spain the lead.
The Spanish were left ruing their missed chance just minutes later when Frank ALesci scored after a neat bit of build-up play at the top of the box.
Diego Moneagudo almost salvaged a draw for the Spaniards at the end, but his well-placed shot was batted away by the fingertips of the Italian keeper.
Man of the Match: Frank Alesci (NYC Italy)
After a series of 1-0 losses, Portugal finally got a win at Day 2 of the Qualification Tournament against an unlucky Egypt side.
Portugal were first on the score sheet after Michael Silva fired home from a tight angle. He received the ball on the right wing, sidestepped a defender, and aimed his shot on target, where it deflected off of the keeper and into the net.
NYC Egypt quickly found a reply via a penalty from John Tanios.
In what was setting up to be a strangely unique game, another penalty was called on the opposite side of the field because of a skeptical handball ruling. Lino Pereira stepped up for Portugal and gave his team a 2-1 lead.
NYC Egypt managed to pull even thanks to Reda Abadalla’s simple finish from 6 yards out just before the half timebreak. The goal came after an even spell of possession in a tightly contested first half.
NYC Portugal came out in the second half a bit lethargic but quickly picked up the tempo and found their third goal of the game through an impressive strike from Pereira.
Pereira scored his third of the game just five minutes later. He sprinted down the wing, used a quick step over to sneak past his defender in a similar manner that a more well-known Portuguese soccer player does, and finished at the far post with a bending shot.
NYC Egypt did their best to try to find a way back into the match but they couldn’t get past the Portuguese backline that kept a decent defensive shape.
Man of the Match: Lino Pereira (NYC Portugal)
NYC Bolivia and NYC Spain played to a 2-2 draw in the most scintillating match thus far at this year’s Cosmos Copa qualifying round.
The first half bared witness to a surprisingly end-to-end match considering the loser of the game would be eliminated. Spain found the opener through their midfield maestro, Antonio Trillo, who rose above every Bolivian defender to head home the ball off of a corner from Diego Monteagudo.
The rest of the first half was an extremely tight affair with tempers on both sides running high
The second half saw the game ratchet up a few notches. Knowing a tie would send them through to the group stage, NYC Bolivia attacked with a venomous rage while Spain were happy to absorb much of the pressure because with their 1-0 lead would be enough to send them through.
However, as Bolivia pressed, Spain were allowed more space to do damage with their counter-attack. With about 15 minutes left in the match, Trillo provided the goal that would break Bolivian hearts. As he was chasing a ball that was headed harmlessly to the Bolivian box, he jumped up with the keeper for a 50/50 ball. He won the challenge and watched, hands raised to the clouds, as the ball trickled in seeming slow-motion into the net, all but sending his team to the group stage.
With five minutes left, just as Spain were beginning to celebrate their victory, Bolivia pulled a goal back after the Spanish goalkeeper mishandled a seemingly harmless 25-yard strike form Luis Eduardo Martinez.
After four nerve-racking minutes for Spain, it seemed as if they had held on to their lead. Bolivia, however, had different ideas. With just seconds left in the match, Joseph Mendoza pounced on a loose ball in the box to score the game-tying goal that would send NYC Bolivia into the group stages of Cosmos Copa.
Mendoza sprinted off to his bench in pure ecstasy as his teammates piled on top of him, while his coach let out yells of glory.
At the final whistle, NYC Bolivia rejoiced as NYC Spain, shocked and dejected, slumped off the pitch.
Man of the Match: Antonio Trillo (NYC Spain)
After dominating play for much of the first day of qualifying, Afghanistan began Day 2 with a sluggish start against Kosova. However, the Afghans managed to pull on the 4-2 win thanks to some late-game heroics.
Afghanistan found themselves in an early deficit, as they gave up an awkward goal in the 12th minute. Kosova striker Roberto Dashi managed to get past the defense and shoot the ball from 10 yards out on a breakaway. The Afghan keeper, Sabir Mashriqi dove, and the ball dribbled slowly past him. It didn’t appear to have enough juice to make it all the way into the net. Dashi's teammate was standing nearby, but he was offsides, so he had to stand there awkwardly and pray the ball made it across the line, which luckily for the Kosova, it just narrowly did.
However, the Afghans struck back thanks to some skilled play in combination with some poor Kosova goal keeping. Afghanistan brought the ball down the left side in the 18th minute and crossed it in front of the net—a ball Kosova keeper Besim Berisha probably should have snagged out of the air. Instead, he let it go past, right into the feet of the Afghan striker for an easy tap-in.
On Afghanistan’s next goal, the fault lay at the feet of Kosova’s defense, which didn’t hustle to get back on a breakaway, allowing six attackers to advance. Although Berisha got to the ball first, he was only able to kick it right at Yusef Mashriqi, who easily put it in the net.
Kosova hit a surprising equalizer after the break through Arben Gegaj but Afghanistan quickly answered on a penalty kick from Djelaludin Sharityar in the 40th minute to take the lead for good.
They added to their lead in the final minute of regulation through Idris Mashriqi. However, while the Afghans pulled out the three points, they were noticably disappointed with their play and sluggish start.
Man of the Match: Idris Mashriqi (NYC Afghanistan)
Japan opened up their first game of the second day of qualifying with a pregame traditional Japanese song between players and fans, but that music was quickly replaced by the sound of goals. After 43 minutes of tense action, the floodgates opened and a flurry of late goals led to a 3-3 tie.
The Americans had their opportunities but struggled to put their set pieces on target, letting the Japanese defense off the hook.
NYC Japan was led by Adam Himeno, who used his incredible one-on-one speed and dexterity to tally all three of Japan’s goals. He opened up scoring in the ninth minute, with a breakaway down the right side of the field, which he nimbly lofted over American keeper’s head.
The Americans countered in the 17th minute with a sharp cross into the box that Andrew Herman was able to tap in for an easy equalizer. Himeno then tried to take a lead into half, but his second breakaway of the game bounced off the post.
After the half, the Japanese gave up a foul deep in their half, setting up a free kick from 20 yards out that the USA's Chris Bayon beautifully wrapped around the right side of the wall and snuck into the right post for a 2-1 lead. It was then that the goals really began to flow.
Adam Himeno, not satisfied with just one goal, wove through traffic and found space in the far post to tie the game at two, and then just a minute later, the Japanese caught the Americans sleeping on defense, and Himeno was able to break away again for a one-on-one with the American keeper, who never had a chance.
After blowing their lead, the Americans sprang one last attack deep into stoppage time when Chris Bayon charged down the field to make it 3-3 and cap off a mad game between two talented sides.
Man of the Match: Adam Himeno (NYC Japan)
An early goal from Holland was enough to see off Kosova and keep the Dutch hopes for qualification alive
Tomas de Mul got the goal for Holland hitting a rocket from 10 yards out.
Staring in the face of a fourth straight defeat, tempers flared for NYC Kosova and Zef Kabashi earned a yellow card for pushing a Dutch player.
Holland had opportunities to extend their lead in the second half, but they were unable to get their shots on target. Kosova's defense held on admirably but they were never able to get anything going forward and never really threatened the Dutch goal.
Man of the Match: Hans Igram (NYC Holland)
In one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the Cosmos Copa Qualification Tournament, NYC USA overcame a resilient Afghanistan side to exert their control over Group 4.
The United States opened the scoring after just three minutes when the ball bounced over the top of the Afghanistan defender, Rafi Mashriqi's head and Andrew Herman collected it and beat the keeper from 10 yards out.
USA doubled their lead after Herman was tripped up from behind in the box winning his side a penalty. Herman picked himself up and took his own penalty and slotted it down low to the keeper’s right to make it 2-0.
The game slowed down after the two early goals as both teams seem to wilt a little in the oppressive heat and they seemed to struggle to put a string of passes together.
After twenty minutes, Mujibullah Mashriqi pulled one back for Afghanistan when he beat the keeper at his near post from a tight angle.
However, the USA restored their two-goal cushion when midfielder Bryan Kuritzky beat the offside trap with a gorgeous through ball to the feet of Herman who beat the keeper with a powerful finish.
Unfortunately, Herman had to be subbed off in the second half when he hurt his ankle after a crunching 50/50 tackle with an Afghan defender.
Day 1's star player, Chris Bayon, played a little deeper in a playmaker role behind Herman on Day 2, and he was a constant thorn in side of the usually stout Afghan defense.
The USA put the icing on the cake when the aforementioned Bayon scored on a tap-in five minutes from time.
Japan and their star man Adam Himeno ran out of luck in their scoreless draw with Holland. The disappointing result cost both teams a chance to qualify.
Japan tried feeding it to Himeno early and often, constantly trying to find him with crosses and through balls. However the Dutch defense was up to the task and a series of last ditch tackles and saves kept him off the score sheet.
The match did feature a lot of strong tackles as both teams went looking for a winner.
While the mood remained rather light for such a fiercely battled match, that aggression finally boiled over when Chris Creger yelled at two of the Japanese strikers for hitting him when he jumped for a ball. The frantic late-game search for a winning goal resulted in three yellow cards in the final 10 minutes.
Man of the Match: Adam Himeno (NYC Japan)
With qualification virtually sewn up for the Americans, they played a low-tempo and good spirited match with NYC Holland in the last game of Group 4.
After breaking from midfield, USA's Jordan Chirico opened the scoring after collecting a feed from Mike Konicoff. Chirico was only on the pitch after Andrew Herman was unable to shake off the knock he picked up in the previous match against Afghanistan and had to be subbed off.
The United States doubled their lead a little later when their midfielder broke from midfield and finished with a powerful drive. Holland would have their say in this match when Hans Ingram headed in a glorious deep cross from Grijns Adriaan.
The tempo of the match dropped significantly in the second half but both teams did generate some chances. Bryan Kuritzky had a few decent chances, but the Dutch keeper Chris Creger was up to the task. Ingram had a chance to equalize in the last minute but his shot went over the bar.