Weekend of April 26-28
New York Cosmos B VS New York Athletic Club
NPSL’s Northeast Region, North Atlantic Conference opens regular season fixtures this weekend with the world-famous New York Cosmos hosting conference foe New York Athletic Club, 7:00 pm kickoff at the Mitchel Athletic Complex. While we’ve already provided a season preview of the entire conference (https://www.protagonistsoccer.com/east-region/north-atlantic) it’s always exciting to dig in to one of the most well-known soccer teams of all time. Long gone are the heady days of Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer and the NASL of the 1970s & 80s. Even the revival period of the club in the new NASL, having won Soccerbowl in 2013, 15 and 16, is in the past after the league failed and Cosmos B was all that remained. However, that pedigree and winning spirit still exist today, as the club thrives in the NPSL and looks to the near future, where it will be one of 11 initial members of the Founder’s Cup and top-tier division of the league.
Last year, head coach Carlos Mendes oversaw his club’s massive success, tearing off 11 straight wins to start the 2018 campaign—according to the league site, they drew 1-1 vs the Brooklyn Italians on July 14th, however, the table shows them as having gone 10-0. Either way, it was a fantastic season, with 12 different goal scorers who contributed to a +32 goal differential; led by Bljedi Bardic with 12. Bljedi, as well as Darwin Espinal (7) and Danny Szetela (6) are all listed on the club’s website as returning for duty in 2019. Wojciech Wojcik (8) has made the move to USL Championship side Hartford Athletic. Both Zaire Bartley and Ivan Berterame earned themselves braces in the playoffs last year, before Cosmos were dumped out in round two by eventual runner-up FC Motown.
The Cosmos will be playing through an entire schedule before getting stuck into the Founder’s Cup and first up will be New York Athletic Club. NYAC finished outside of the playoffs in 2018, in 6th place on 14 points. Despite boasting three clean sheets to start the season, and having started the campaign looking fairly strong, Athletic Club was blown out 4-1 on June 9th by none other than New York Cosmos B. To be fair, they played the very next day against Seacoast United Mariners and had a resounding win of their own 4-0 but after that weekend they never looked the same. With just six players combining for 14 goals, they ended with a -5 goal differential and according to their club site, sacked head coach Barclay Mackinnon—replacing him with Ridi Dauti.
With the North Atlantic Conference having lost Elm City Express, TSF FC and Seacoast United Mariners in the offseason, the schedule looks more balanced—offering a home and away scenario for both Cosmos and Athletic. If NYAC can go to Mitchel Athletic Complex this weekend and get a result, it will really set them up well for their homestand over next three weeks. They will host Rhode Island Reds, Boston FC and Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds, none of which were playoff teams in 2018. Cosmos, on the other hand, need to pick up the win at home before heading off to Kingston Stockade next weekend—just days after that away match, Cosmos will host a US Open Cup Round One match at home vs Black Rock FC of the USL League Two on May 8th. They alternate home and way with Boston FC, Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds and Hartford FC over the successive weeks. But if they win in USOC Round One, then there will be another match thrown into the mix. Not to mention their upcoming international friendly with a visiting FC St. Pauli of the 2. Bundesliga on May 23rd. It seems that success breeds a very busy fixtures list—and I’m looking forward to seeing how they pull it all off.
Hartford City FC vs. Boston City FC
While my insight into this match isn’t what Joshua Duder’s is into his pick for the weekend, I’m pumped to see these east coast matches starting to fire up in the NPSL. The West has been up and running for over a month now, but now its time for the East to get going. Hartford City should have a strong defense, with several key components returning from last year, including the East Region’s Keeper of the Year, Hami Kara. Across the field, Boston City FC is a club that has massively revamped their roster and club leadership and is a big unknown for this season. That’s good considering their disappointing results last season, time to kick start a new season. I’m curious to see these two clubs clash this weekend and can’t wait to see what direction they are headed in 2019