Eight teams are fighting for their chance to reach the COSMOS COPA’s semi final on July 23rd. As the tournament is enjoying growing popularity, the quality of soccer has improved as the group stages clearly displayed. Tommy Smyth, ESPN’s Irish soccer expert supports this view, “compared to last year, the quality of the games has tremendously improved”.
The tournament is only played for the third time and has an incredible potential to become the major cultural event in New York City. 30 community based “national teams” went into the qualifying rounds and 16 qualified for the group stages. Surprisingly, some of the major soccer countries and World Cup winners didn’t qualify for the group stages. Some, like Germany, didn’t even manage to get a team into the qualifying rounds.
Under the burning sun, the fight in the group stages was fierce and some that believed to make it through without the necessary seriousness and stamina are now finding themselves in the stands, watching the quarterfinals from there. The teams that fought and played their way into the round of eight are: Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Senegal, England, Poland, Mexico and Haiti. The quarterfinals start on Sunday, July 17th at 10:00am.
10:00am England – Jamaica
12:00pm Mexico – Ireland
02:00pm Senegal – Haiti
04:00pm Greece – Poland
Based on the displayed performances in the group stages, everything is possible. Based on the writer’s observations, Ireland and Greece seem to be strong contenders and might have a good chance to advance. George Halkidis, the manager of the Greek team, believes his team can go all the way through. Indeed, his team displayed quality soccer, technically as well as tactically. On whether it is enough for the “Cup” has to be seen. The Irish displayed a solid performance as well. Their coach, and team, put a lot of effort and professionalism into the task and that might just pay off. Senegal and Jamaica have opportunities as well. As stated before, the overall quality is on a very high level, and surprises cannot be ruled out.
The tournament gives an indication on what the New York Cosmos are able to bring to U.S. soccer. In a city, that is basically representing the world, a club like the Cosmos can give U.S. soccer a push and bring together all soccer cultures under one roof. Events like the Cosmos COPA, the club’s international flair and the Cosmos legacy, including Pele, Eric Cantona and all the other soccer heroes involved in the organization, will create a U.S. powerhouse in soccer. A survey to test the support of the New York Cosmos went around the world within less than ten days and the support for a Cosmos comeback in the MLS is overwhelming. As an example, a post on an European top club’s web site created incredible positive participation in readers, votes and comments within two days. The recognition of the club is globally. There is not much doubt that with New York Cosmos in the MLS the league and all it’s clubs would have an advantage. Think of the incredible rivalries this would create, not only in and around New York City.
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