For the first time in the professional era, the New York Pancyprian Freedoms were able to keep a professional club off the board in a shutout, but the final result against FC New York was not what they were hoping for. Scoreless after regulation, a shot off the post in the seventh round of penalties sent the first-year USL Pro side through 6-5 in the tiebreaker to a Third Round US Open Cup contest against the New York Red Bulls of MLS.
The penalty shootout was perhaps the most surprising event of the night as the two star players for the Freedoms failed to convert.
Stefan Dimitrov, who scored both goals in last week’s 2-1 win along with two goals (one a penalty) and two assists in qualifying, saw his attempt stuffed on the opening shot of the tiebreaker. The Freedoms were saved, literally, a round later courtesy of their netminder.
The two sides would finish out the next three rounds with perfection and find themselves in the seventh round when former two-time USL Pro MVP and Scoring Champion Julio Cesar Dos Santos fired his shot off the left post, sending FC New York through.
The USL Pro club will travel to nearby Harrison, NJ for a Big Apple showdown with the New York Red Bulls next Tuesday evening at 8:00 pm ET.
The professional side found themselves on their heels early as the Freedoms took it to them in the early going, forcing a one-on-one save against Anastasios Polydefkis from Steven Diaz just nine minutes in. Four minutes later Diaz made another fine save on a volley one-timed by Stefan Dimitrov from 25 yards out.
FC New York then found themselves further rationale for playing on the ledge, falling down a man when Sam Stockley was sent off in the 24th minute for catching Dimitrov from behind as he split through the two center backs on a dangerous run.
With three minutes before the break, the Freedoms had another excellent chance only to see the cross headed wide of goal.
Four minutes into the second half FC New York showed a little life with Tadeu Terra springing David Reed to a one-on-one with the keeper only to see the shot parried away by Chad Calderone.
A minute later, last week’s hat-trick hero for FC New York, Jhonny Arteaga put another shot on target to force another stop.
The game settled in with the host USL club, adorned in warm-up shirts and numbered pinnies, minimizing the opportunities it was giving the amateur side comprised of numerous former veteran professionals while looking for the right chance to strike themselves.
A free kick just outside the box in the 81st minute looked to be that opportunity, but Arteaga’s attempt flew through the area and wide of goal, allowing the stalemate to slip into overtime.
Moments into the extra frame Arteaga again had an opportunity, nutmegging a defender in the corner and sending the ball into the box to Gary Boughton, whose shot was denied by the keeper.
The Freedoms would get their first chance for glory in the 96th minute on a free kick 30 yards out only to be left in disappointment. Another Dimitrov attempt on a rocket in the 114th opened eyes wide as it sailed just a foot over the crossbar, dooming the match to the penalty spot to break the tie.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Steven Diaz
FCNY: Troy Cole – goal, Jhonny Arteaga – goal, Josiah Snelgrove – saved, John Morrison – goal, Tadeu Terra – goal,
Mike Aquino – goal, Karsten Smith – goal
NYPF: Stefan Dimitrov – saved, John Koutsounadis – goal, Jon Simos – goal, Christos Zisimatos – goal, Panagiotis Halkidis – goal, Matia Damiani – goal, Julio Cesar Dos Santos – miss (left post)
FCNY: Steven Diaz; Kyle Hoffer, Karsten Smith, Sam Stockley, Josiah Snelgrove; Gary Boughton (John Morrison 109), Stephen Roche (Don Smart 58), Troy Cole, Mike Aquino; Tadeu Terra (Joseph Tavernese 89), Jhonny Arteaga
NYPF: Chad Calderone; Stelios Andreou, Nickos Katsanos, Stefan Dimitrov, Christos Zisimatos; Jeff Matteo (Panagiotis Halkidis 96), Matia Damiani, John Koutsounadis, Mahamadou Simpara (Athanasios Vlahos 81); Anastasios Polydefkis, Julio Cesar Dos Santos – unknown sub exit (Jon Simos 1)
NYPF: Zisimatos 45
FCNY: Roche 56
FCNY: Smith 66
NYPF: Matteo 91
FCNY: Aquino 95
FCNY: Stockley 22