Graphic by Harrison Huntley | @hhuntley17
The players from both Brockton FC United and the New York Pancyprian Freedoms not only had to deal with the opposing team, but the increasingly deteriorating weather moving across New England. An early goal by Charlie Ledula was all the visitors needed as heavy rain and flooding forced the game to be called off in the 58th minute with the Freedoms declared the winner.
The Pancyprian Freedoms will be returning to the US Open Cup for the first time since 2016. Since its founding in 1974, the club has qualified or attempted to qualify for every Open Cup since then and won the competition three times (1980, 1982, 1983). The team competes in the historic Cosmopolitan Soccer League and is the third most successful club in league history with eight championships, with the most recent coming earlier this year.
Despite the win, Freedoms technical director Panayiotis Onisiforou expressed disappointed that the weather prevented a more competitive showing from both teams.
“The game was played in terrible conditions, we were against 20 mph winds and heavy rain,” Onisiforou said in an email. “We got a lucky break in the [3rd] minute, ball dropped to Charlie Ledula and he slotted the ball one touch, bottom right corner. After that there was not much soccer played due to conditions and it’s a shame because both sides had quality.”
A Brockton FC United player strikes the ball in the heavy rain in the club’s 2020 US Open Cup qualifier against the New York Pancyprian Freedoms. Photo: Liz McQuilkin – Mass Soccer
Ledula is no stranger to Open Cup goals. The LIU Post alumni and 2017 NCAA Division II All-American previously played for the Long Island Rough Riders in USL League Two (then known as the Premier Development League). With his former team, he scored two extra-time goals against Kingston Stockade (NPSL) in the First Round of the 2018 tournament to secure advancement and was later voted the team’s player of the year.
Following that goal, the game pace became erratic. Both teams exchanged chances inconsistently as the weather worsened the field became wetter. A Brockton free kick from the right side of the field found a player’s head but sailed wide for their best chance of the half, while Ledula nearly scored a second goal in the 20th minute.
The former USL player raced up the middle of the field to try and connect on a cross, but made contact with the keeper as he slid to make the safe and was subsequently shown a yellow card.
Players from the New York Pancyprian Freedoms stand in the pouring rain during their 2020 US Open Cup qualifying match against Brockton FC United. Photo: Liz McQuilkin – Mass Soccer
Brockton’s leading scorer, and 2019 MLS SuperDraft pick, Leandro Alves, had scored in both previous games for his team but was left blanked on the day. The former University of Vermont soccer player was a key player during his team’s qualification run, and in UPSL play but both the weather and stubborn Freedoms defense kept him in check for the short amount of time he had.
As the teams entered halftime, United’s Leonardo Teixeira picked up a caution in the 43rd minute, and then the rain began to pick up. The puddles on the field began to be larger and larger and both the players and ball slid across the pitch. By the 58th minute, officials realized both teams would risk injury if play continued and the game was called off.
Heavy rain and flooding forced the 2020 US Open Cup qualifier between the New York Pancyprian Freedoms and Brockton FC United to end in the 58th minute. The Freedoms were leading 1-0 and advanced. Photo: Liz McQuilkin – Mass Soccer
This marks the fourth time a game has ended early since the qualifying tournament began for the 2016 US Open Cup. In 2017, a first round match between Red Force FC and Miami National SC ended in 60th minute after lighting stuck near the field – giving Red Force the win and eventual tournament berth. The same year, Nevada side Anahuac SC got past MF 10 after the latter could not field a team of over seven players due to injuries and red cards. Then in 2018, Red Force once again advanced through a stopped game after its second round opponent, once again the Miami Nationals, walked off the field while trailed 4-0.
Just last year, a third round match between Cal FC and California United FC II, tied at 2-2, was abruptly stopped after field lights went out with minutes left in regulation. That game, however, was replayed in its entirety nearly two months later with Cal FC picking up the win in a PK shootout.
Brockton exit their first US Open Cup qualification tournament with three low scoring, competitive contests under their belts. The game also marks the second time this year that the team was knocked out of national competition by a Cosmopolitan Soccer League side. In May, Lansdowne Yonkers FC defeated the team, 3-0, in the USASA Region I semifinals for the Werner Fricker Amateur Open Cup.
The win for the Freedoms is also the farthest they’ve ever had to travel for an Open Cup qualification game since the new qualification process started in 2016. Despite the 226-mile trip from Jamaica, Queens, the team said the club’s board all came together for it and he’s glad the team was able to replay them with a win.
“As far as the travel, we and the players didn’t get affected by it and it was all down to the president and the board,” Onisiforou explained. “They got us hotels, food – they went above and beyond. Without their support none of this was possible. We are happy to get the win and repay their faith they have put in us.”
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