The Premier Development League (PDL) got off to a good start against National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) competition early on in the First Round of the 2016 US Open Cup and Jersey Express did their part to contribute with a 2-1 win over Clarkstown SC Eagles.
Jersey Express were led by Romario Pinto Goulart, who earned not one, but two penalty kicks; one in either half. However, Romario did not convert either of the penalties he had earned. That honor went to Juan Correa, who scored twice instead. Almost unfairly, Romario not only didn’t get a chance to finish either penalty, but he was also substituted in the 65th minute.
But Express head coach Julian Richens felt his team’s victory was about more than just earning a couple PKs.
“We created chances throughout the 90 minutes,” said Richens, who also coaches at Saint Peters University. “Three of our back four were playing out of position so credit them for limiting any threat.
That makeshift defense had to work hard to secure the win though, because the Eagles did not go quietly. They managed to get one back in stoppage time, courtesy of Bljedi Bardic, but could not get the equalizer as they became one of six NPSL teams to be eliminated in the first six games of the First Round (Note: The league would later advance in seven of the next eight).
In the Modern Era, there have been 13 New York vs. New Jersey matchups, and with the Express winning, the state of New Jersey has won seven of them.
Jersey Express will once again travel north to New York on Wednesday, May 18 to take on three-time Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms, who erased a 1-0 deficit to defeat the new York Red Bulls U-23 squad, 2-1. Richens likes his team’s chances to carry momentum into the next round and get another win; potentially starting deep run into the tournament.
“It’s very early in the season and we will be better than we were today. The performance levels will only increase, giving us a good chance to win the game.”