Two of the titans of the famed Cosmopolitan Soccer League in New York City battled for 120 minutes and neither could find a goal. The match had to be decided in penalty kicks with the reigning Amatuer Cup champion Lansdowne Bhoys edging three-time US Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms, 4-3.
The Bhoys and the Freedoms have both qualified for the US Open Cup in recent years.
The Bhoys from the New York metropolitan area qualified for the 2016 edition of the tournament after defeating Newtown Pride FC and Worcester FC during qualification. That year Lansdowne Bhoys defeated PDL side Long Island Rough Riders 2-1 before traveling to Pennsylvania to stun the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 2-0. The cup-run ended with a 2-0 loss in Rochester at the hands of the Rhinos in the Third Round.
The team fell to FC Motown during qualification for 2017 tournament but returned to try to earn a spot for 2018. Lansdowne Bhoys FC defeated Jackson Lions FC of New Jersey’s Garden State Soccer League in the opening round on September 24.
The Pancyprian Freedoms defeated Newtown Pride of Connecticut 2-1 in the first round of qualifying last month.
The club has a storied history that includes both the amateur side in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League dating back to 1979 and the professional team founded in 1999 as the New York Freedom. The Freedoms pushed eventual champion Rochester Raging Rhinos to the brink in extra time during the second round of the 1999 Open Cup.
More recently, the amateur side qualified for the 2016 Open Cup and showed well. The Freedoms defeated PDL-side New York Red Bulls U-23s 2-1 in the first round and narrowly lost to another PDL team, Jersey Express 1-0.
These two sides know each other well both from league play in the CSL and in amateur cup competitions, including 2017 Open Cup qualifying last autumn. In that contest, Lansdowne Bhoys prevailed 3-2 over New York Pancyprian Freedoms after extra time in Yonkers on September 10, 2016.
The teams also met just two weeks prior to Sunday’s cup showdown, a CSL match on Oct. 10 that ended 1-1 in Yonkers. Within CSL, NY leads the league in scoring with 2.4 goals per game average and Lansdowne has the stingiest defense in the division allowing just 0.75 goals per contest.
Both the familiarity between the teams and the prize at stake added venom to Sunday night’s match. The first half was chippy, with five bookings, but produced saves from both goalkeepers. New York’s forward Andreas Chronis forced a clearance off the line in the 27th minute and struck the woodwork in the 65th.
Lansdowne Bhoys defenders had their backs against the wall late in regulation when Craig Purcell got his body in front of a header from Luis Esteves in the 90th minute.
In extra time, Lansdowne goalkeeper Abdoukarim Danso, who played during the team’s previous cup run and won TheCup.us Player of the Round, came off his line to close down New York’s Adam Himeno. The best chance of the second period of extra time came off the foot of Lansdowne Bhoys’ Joseph Lopez but his long-distance effort missed the target.
After 120 scoreless minutes of soccer could not separate the Bhoys and Freedoms, the teams lined up for a shootout. Sunday night’s opponents proved evenly matched even from the spot as the Bhoys finally prevailed.
Perhaps energized from his extra time heroics, Danso stole the show with three saves from the line as his side now advances to the third qualifying round to be played in November against the Junior Lone Star Under-23s from Philadelphia.
Lansdowne Bhoys head coach Austin Friel is now one game away from taking his team back to the Open Cup while the Pancyprian Freedoms cast attention back to their undefeated start to the league