WHO: New York Cosmos v FC Motown
WHAT: NPSL Northeast Region Final
WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 7:30PM EDT:
WHERE: Live: Rocco B. Commisso Stadium, 533 W 218th St, New York, NY / Stream: NYCosmos.com
The fallout from the de-sanctioning of the North American Soccer League has impacted pro soccer players in the United States below the level of MLS. After the USSF refused to grant NASL provision D2 status, three of the highest paying pro soccer clubs below Major League Soccer went away for 2018. The knock on effect of that can be seen in the NPSL Northeast Region final, where both the New York Cosmos B and FC Motown field teams filled with players that ought to be on professional full season team rosters.
New York Cosmos B (10 wins, no losses) stumbled out of the gate with a loss to the Brooklyn Italians in the US Open Cup play-in round. However since then, the Cosmos rolled over most of the competition until needing penalties to beat the Italians in the North Atlantic Conference final. The only thing slowing the Cosmos down have been injuries, with first choice goalkeeper Macklin Robinson and prolific striker Bledi Bardic missing critical time.
The Cosmos are deep in players with recent NASL and USL experience. Injured goalkeeper Robinson was with North Carolina FC last year. Defenders Jonathan Borrajo (Miami FC), Ryan Adeleye (Pittsburgh), Garrett Halfhill (Cincinnati) and Alexis Velela (Cosmos); Midfielders Danny Szetela (Cosmos), Rafa Garcia (LA Galaxy II); and Forwards Bardic (Cosmos), Wojciech Wojcik (OKC), Darwin Espinal (Reno) and Zaire Bartley (NYRBII) all plied their trade at the second division level last year.
Just as the Cosmos were dominant in the North Atlantic, Morristown, New Jersey-based FC Motown (9 wins, 1 loss) nearly ran the table in the Keystone Conference. FC Motown, which plays its home matches at Drew University in Madison NJ, features talent with impressive resumes, including several connections to the New York Red Bulls organization. Former Red Bull and Cosmos star Hunter Freeman is on the team, having joined from Miami FC. Dilly Duka comes to Motown straight out of MLS. Defender Julius James played for the Columbus Crew, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Antonio Scorpions, and has 16 caps for the Trinidad & Tobago national team. Daryl Kavanagh is a former League of Ireland player, which is about the same level as USL in quality. Motown’s head coach Sacir Hot was an early NYRB homegrown player.
In addition to the shared links to the Red Bull organization among players and staff, there is also a family connection on the teams, with Jonathan Borrajo’s younger brother Joey on the Motown squad. The familiarity will only add to the fact that the two clubs will represent the biggest test of the season for each other for so far.
New York Cosmos Players to Watch: The Cosmos have not been scoring goals at quite the same rate since Bledi Bardic went down with a hamstring strain. It is unclear whether the forward will be back in time for the regional final. In Bardic’s absence, Zaire Bartley has stepped up and provided the club with goals.
FC Motown Players To Watch: Dilly Duka – the former Red Bull man has been prolific for Motown, and will need to be contained in the Cosmos defensive plan. The Cosmos will also do well to keep an eye on former Lansdowne Bhoys stars Daryl Kavanagh and Matt Nigro. Kavanagh scored two goals to lift Motown over Baltimore.
New York Cosmos B starting XI versus FC Frederick:
FC Motown recent starting XI versus West Chester United:
As with all Cosmos B home matches this season, all ticket proceeds will go to Street Soccer USA.