In the first of two qualification matches for the National Premier Soccer League’s berth into the US Open Cup from the league’s Northeast Conference, the two-time US Open Cup champion Brooklyn Italians (1979, 91) narrowly defeated visiting FC Buffalo 1-0 Saturday. Brooklyn advances to face FC Sonic Lehigh Valley in the final May 27 in Bethlehem, PA for a spot in the tournament.
Strengthened by some recent collegiate additions, but with little preparation, FC Buffalo took it to the hosts in the early going with Stephen Baker and Mike Reidy challenging up the flanks. The second portion of the first half saw the two clubs go back and forth with Brooklyn attempting to find striker Jorge Joseph over the top.
The plan of attack would pay off for the Italians when they countered with a quick ball up the right side that found Joseph all alone behind the defense in the 25th minute. He drove in toward goal and slipped the ball from 14 yards past goalkeeper Pat Regna as he came sliding out to challenge the breakaway, finding the far back corner (2:19 on video).
As Buffalo searched for the equalizer, the visitors hopes were dashed by a controversial call and saw their keeper leave the game after a bloody clash.
On one of Buffalo’s best chances of the game a ball from Reidy found Stedman, who beat his defender into the box and was all alone with the keeper. The keeper dove at Stedman to break up the opportunity, taking out his feet in the process, eliciting calls from the sidelines for a penalty which was not given.
Regna turned away numerous Brooklyn opportunities to double the advantage in the second half before being knocked out of the game with injury. On a counter from Mustafa Haridi, the pair collided awkwardly with force. Haridi left the match and needed dental surgery after suffering a bloody mouth injury while Regna was forced out with a significant cut beneath the knee.
Craig Yanni did well in Regna’s place, making several saves to keep the visitors in the match for the final 10 minutes, but the club was unable to find the equalizer.