2011 US Open Cup First Round: Pancyprian Freedoms edge rival Brooklyn Italians in battle of former champions
It was a battle between two long-time New York rivals in the most highly-decorated First Round matchup in the Professional Era (1995-present), with five US Open Cup titles between them. In the end, the New York Pancyprian Freedoms got the best of the Brooklyn Italians, 2-1, to earn their first Open Cup victory since 2002.
Stefan Dimitrov scored both goals for the Freedoms, including the game-winner which came less than a minute after Brooklyn’s Kordel Samuel had equalized in the 80th minute.
The victory sets up another Big Apple match in the Second Round between the Freedoms and FC New York of USL Pro at Belson Stadium next Tuesday. The site of the game is interesting, not because it was where tonight’s game was played, but because FC New York and the Pancyprian Freedoms both call the stadium on the campus of St. John’s University their home field in their respective leagues.
| Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)
NY Pancyprian Freedoms (USASA – East NY)
Belson Stadium, St. Johns Univ. – Queens, N.Y.
|RECAP: New York Post
While nothing has been confirmed, the winner of next Tuesday’s game could be in line to face the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer in Round 3. The United States Soccer Federation will make an announcement about the potential Third Round pairings in the coming days.
The two clubs canceled each other out in the opening half and it wasn’t until the 65th minute when Julio Cesar Dos Santos helped create the first goal. The former USL great sent a cross into the box and Dimitrov, a former Chicago Fire player, was there to put the Freedoms up 1-0.
After Kordel Samuel hit the post for Brooklyn in the 75th minute, he got it right the next time, putting the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer in the 80th minute. However, before Brooklyn fans were settled back in their seats, New York took the kickoff and Stelios Andreou’s cross would find Dimitrov in front of goal once again to re-claim the lead for good.
New York owes their berth in the Open Cup to Dimitrov who helped create or produce all four goals in their USASA Region I semifinal win over Mass Premier Soccer. He scored two goals and also assisted on both of Dos Santos’ tallies.
The last time the Freedoms were victorious in the tournament was in the opening round of the 2002 competition when the three-time champs were a member of the D3 Pro League (3rd Division) and they defeated fellow 2011 qualifier AAC Eagles (Chicago) 1-0 on a 119th minute golden goal by a young midfielder by the name of Shalrie Joseph.