After notching two pivotal second-half goals to lift the Brooklyn Italians over New York Cosmos B over the weekend, Danish attacker Rasmus Hansen has earned TheCup.us Player of the Round honors for the 2018 Preliminary Round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Hansen is the first Brooklyn Italians player, and the first Danish player to be named Player of the Round. The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters.
Hansen’s first goal in the 58th minute gave the Italians a 2-1 lead only for the Cosmos to equalize just a minute later. The Italians, though, persisted and eventually found the winner through a fantastic left-footed strike from Hansen in the 88th minute to seal the win at the home field of Long Island University, where Hansen is also a student.
Both of Hansen’s goals were counter attacks executed to perfection. Brooklyn’s strategy of utilizing the speed of players like Hansen and Giuseppe Barone against the Cosmos’ experienced, but slower, back line paid off well.
“In games like this, you get one, maybe two chances. Today I was lucky to get two and I was fortunate to score on both of them,” Hansen said. “We’d been looking at video all week and we wanted to target the space behind their backs because, they’re very offensive but we saw there was opportunities to get in behind them. I just tried my best to get in these pockets and it worked for us today.”
Hansen noted after the match that he wanted the ball in those crucial late stages, which led to midfielder Collyns Laokandi picking him out with a long ball after he slipped away from the Cosmos’ back line on the right wing.
“I felt great today. I felt fit. I felt I could run with them, so I wanted the ball over the top,” he said. “I tried to stay as composed as possible and get the shot off as quickly as possible so the goalie wouldn’t expect it. It went through a couple legs and in the goal. It was beautiful. It was a good moment.”
The Dane is also a standout with Long Island University’s men’s soccer team. He led the program in scoring during his freshman season in 2015 has so far bagged 28 goals and 15 goals in three seasons with the Blackbirds. His ambitions extend off the field also, as he’s pursuing a triple major in Finance, Management, and Marketing.
“I love staying over here in the summer and playing for the Italians and getting better. The guys are great. There’s a great group of guys. Most of them are coming back every year, so we have a lot of fun. I feel like I’m a better player because of it.”
Now entering his third year with the Italians, Hansen is well aware of the National Premier Soccer League’s proud history as winner of the 1979 and 1991 US Open Cups. Having missed out on the last two Open Cups, Hansen is eager to help the Italians make a strong run in the competition this year.
“Obviously I’m foreign, but I feel like I’m a part of the club,” Hansen said. “I give all I have for the club and they give everything back to us players. I know it’s a proud club. If you go to the clubhouse there’s no space for a new trophy, so that shows how rich a club it is and the culture. We’re such a diverse team, but we come together and we really play for the Italians spirit I think.”
The Italians host Lansdowne Bhoys FC in Round 1 of the Open Cup at LIU Brooklyn on Wednesday, May 9 at 8 p.m.