Game 1 (10:00 AM) - NYC England v. NYC Jamaica
NYC Jamaica cruised through the group stages with an unbeaten record by relying on their depth as well as versatility of play. New York City’s Reggae Boyz opened up play in Group A with a controlled 1-0 victory over Ecuador with the lone goal coming from Eurica Trowers. In their second fixture, Jamaica rolled over Trinidad & Tobago thanks to slick passing and superior fitness, highlighted by goals from Robert Palmer, Kenardo Forbes and Leon Powell. Their final group match pitted them up against Senegal, the only team remaining in this Cosmos Copa since the qualifying round. The sides drew 1-1 in a hotly contested match, with Jamaica’s goal coming from Leon Powell in the10th minute of play.
NYC England reached the knockout stage on the strength of their organization and goal scoring exploits. New York City’s Three Lions, made up of many English ex-pats based in the financial world, lit up the scoreboards unlike any other team in this year’s Cosmos Copa Group Stage. A brace from striker George Fenwick spurred England to a 4-3 victory over Haiti in their first match of the tournament. England then utilized their unrelenting high pressure to methodically dismantle El Salvador 3-0 in their second group match. In their final match of the weekend England found themselves down 2-0 to Kosovo in the early going, only to show their composure and lion heart with 3 unanswered goals on the way to topping the group.
England v. Jamaica is guaranteed to be an incredibly hard fought match with neither team likely to give in if presented with the adversity conceding an early goal. Both teams will try to use ball possession and high defensive pressure to break down the opponent. Jamaica was the runner up in 2010 and are looking for redemption while NYC England resemble their national team in that they have never made it past the quarterfinals of the tournament. This matchup has the makings of a soccer slugfest and will absolutely not be decided until the final whistle blows.
Game 2 (12:00 PM) - NYC Mexico vs. NYC Ireland
Ireland have had their eyes on winning Cosmos Copa NYC 2011 for a whole year since being knocked out in the in the 2010 semifinals. However, the opponent standing in their way, Mexico, will have revenge on their minds when the clock strikes twelve on Sunday. Last year in the quarterfinals, these two sides met, but it was Ireland who showed up in full force, absolutely humiliating Mexico with a 6-1 thrashing.
This time around, things are different. Ireland are still be the powerhouse we’ve seen in previous years, but they only finished second to Greece in Group D. Ireland had to battle through adversity throughout the Group, drawing 1-1 against both Greece and Colombia and defeating Italy 2-1. Mexico, on the other hand, were in scintillating form throughout the Group Stage, topping the Ivory Coast 2-1, defeating Croatia 3-0, and drawing defending champions Poland to win Group C.
Mexico plays a calm, collected game focused around possession and short, quick passing in tight areas. One second, the ball will be fifty yards from goal, but after a string of five or six passes it will be tucked into the back of the net. Jusiel Vazquez and Miguel Martinez are the two men Mexico will rely on to score goals as they did during the Group Stage. Ireland is a squad centered around team discipline, pace down the wings, winning the battles in the midfield, and high defensive pressure. With 90 minutes to play at noon, Ireland may have to sit back when defending to conserve energy, but when they gain possession they will be smashing crosses into the box. Brian King has been in clinical form during the Group Stage and has been the leader in the team’s attack.
Ireland has history on their side while Mexico is looking like one of the
most dangerous sides in the tournament. It’s fair to say that between
the Mexicans and the Irish there is no underdog.
Game 3 (2:00PM) - NYC Haiti vs. NYC Senegal
NYC Senegal will face NYC Haiti in a very intriguing Cosmos Copa quarterfinal matchup.
Senegal are the only team from the Qualifying Round to also make it through the Group Stage and have a reputation as one of this tournament's most dangerous teams. They have played some of the best soccer at Cosmos Copa 2011 thus far and have at times looked unbeatable. Mame Samb has been a force for the team in the central midfield position. A great all-around player, his size and technical ability have allowed him to dictate the play of every match. Goalkeeper Malick Faye could prove to be Senegal's most important player though. Due to the excellent defense playing in front of him, Faye does not see much action at his end but he has made some miraculous saves when he is called upon.
Haiti are a team with huge potential, but it remains to be seen whether or not they can consistently play at their best. They are led by some class players, including striker Peterson Barreau and holding midfielder Jean-Lively Joseph. Haiti is a very silky team with tremendous technical ability all over the pitch. They also have the size and physicality to challenge any team they come across. Some people have questioned Haiti's discipline, noting that they can play some of the best and worst soccer in the same game. But this is a team that can change a match in a New York minute, so they can’t be taken lightly.
Senegal have not truly been tested in Cosmos Copa so far, as they cruised through qualifying and the group stage. They did face powerhouse Jamaica, but both teams had already qualified for the quarterfinals and that encounter was basically a dead rubber. Haiti play with a lot of emotion and pride and will definitely give Senegal their toughest test to date. Senegal will need to be prepared for a battle on Sunday. Regardless of who wins, this match is destined to become a Cosmos Copa classic!
Game 4 (4:00PM) - NYC Greece v. NYC Poland
As 2010 champions, Poland went into Cosmos Copa NYC 2011 with the burden of being the favorites to win the whole thing. But this is a different Poland side than the one that lifted the Cosmos Cup in front of Pelé a year ago. In May, they lost 2010 Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner, Chris Karcz to a knee injury and had to reshape their whole attack. Into the void stepped, eighteen year-old, Damian Bziukiwicz, who during the Group Stages displayed, in flashes, all the skill required to be a truly top class player. Poland had a slow start to their 2011 campaign as Mexico took an early lead two quick goals in their opening group game. However Poland displayed the fight and grit of a champion to come back and draw the match 2-2. Poland coasted through their other two group matches, dispatching of Ivory Coast and Croatia in the process.
NYC Greece was one of the surprise teams of the 2011 Group Stages. They topped the “group of Death,” group D, ahead of the likes of NYC Ireland, NYC Colombia and NYC Italy. They were well organized and lethal on the counter attack and had the ability to finish teams off. Peter Antoniades was the player that stirred the drink for Greece. His ability to play the killer pass led to game winning goals in their matches against both Colombia and Italy. Christian Zisimatos and Frank Spanos were the top scorers for Greece with each player grabbing two goals in the first three games.
This quarterfinal matchup, between two of the most impressive sides from the Group Stages, will be a tactical battle between two teams that feature some of the best players in all of New York City. Both teams are very disciplined, well drilled and effective on the counter attack. Many of the players on both Greece and Poland play together in the New York City Cosmopolitan League and that familiarity is the key to their success. Whatever team comes out of this battle will have truly earned their spot in the semi-finals and will be favorite to go on and lift the Cosmos Cup.