Numbers once again weren’t the issue for the Legends as they gathered a sizeable contingent of 16 for the game against the perennial champions Cozmos. Some of the Legends were eager to gain a semblance of respect after the 8-0 crushing that happened in the Fall. Back then Cozmos took full advantage against 8 men while the core of the Legends were watching the US men’s national team embarrass themselves in Trinidad. With double that number CPR were still facing a tall order, especially with the team leaning towards the elderly contingent and missing key players like MVP Belizan. Playing on the vast expanse of Field #75 certainly didn’t help but the Legends tried to set up tactically compact to do what they could.
Early on Cozmos showed why they are so hard to play with constant movement always finding players open between the lines. It’s one thing to tell players to play narrow and compact, but another to keep track with the athletically superior opponents, especially with the ball sometimes travelling all over the field. The opening goal arrived in such a manner, a Cozmos player strategically kept outside at an angle in the penalty box but nevertheless able to take a step wide and having the precision and power to smash the ball past a helpless Carducci. Far from beginning a rout it roused the Legends who started to impose themselves on the proceedings. New boy Rainares came close with a shot pushed wide by ex Legend Telly Vamvouris, who had left last season for greener pastures. A few corners were scrambled wide and a couple of shots were saved by Vamvouris but didn’t find an onrushing striker. Eventually the Legends gained their reward. Rainares was fouled in a defensive sandwich just outside the box. With Vamvouris very keen on the danger presented by D’andrea, he cleverly dummied over the ball so that Frazier could finally open his account with an accurate shot into the side netting.
At half time the Legends weren’t just sure they could hold their own, they knew they could actually win the game. Cozmos had only a pair of substitutes but most of them were in good enough shape to play the full 90. The Legends had plenty of substitutes but positionally they were more of the attacking kind, putting stress on the old legs at the back. CPR were certainly holding their own at both ends of the field and came dangerously close a few times, just missing opportunities bouncing around in the box. It was Comzos speed up top that finally broke the deadlock, a long run and calm finish beating the curiously high line being played by the Legends.
The Legends tried but were not quite able to get the equalizer, finally getting the ultimate respect as Cozmos played for corner kicks to cower in the corners to waste as much time as possible. There are no league points for moral victories but the Legends certainly cashed in their moral points at the bar later on.
Competition: Cozmos, League Opposition
Location: Randall’s Island #75, Randall’s Island
Conditions: Chilly early morning
Result: 1:2 HT: 1-1
Goals: 1-1: Frazier Assist Rainares
Yellow Cards: Harrison’s physicality is the type that will more often than not lend itself to bookings in this league, and after a few robust tackles he went into the book. Steve Robert’s booking for dissent was excessive given that by his standards his discussion with the referee was only about a 5 out of 10 on the Frazier scale. Speaking of which, the record non pareil continues as Frazier added to his consecutive game booking record with yet another.
Red Cards: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Fortunately none, with El Presidente making it clear he was there primarily in his photojournalist capacity.
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: None.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: None, although the rock hard sand caused many a bloody scrape.
Old Man of the Match: A strong performance throughout, with players running hard to cover the constantly moving Cozmos on the large field. Although the Legends were able to substitute frequently to give players a rest, both Centerbacks and Harrison had to play 90 given their positions and importance. Given his roving all over the field and the beating he took, Harrison earned his spurs with his first OMoM award. Honorary mentions go to the center back pairing of Roberts and Roberts, even though the choice to play a high line in the second half against the speedy Cozmos front line seemed questionable.
Old Man of the Bar: N/A
El Presidente (Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None.
Statistic of the week: Frazier finally added a debut goal to his interminable booking streak, now at 11 bookings in 10 consecutive games to start a career.
Team Bar Showing: 5 out of 16 (31%)
Team Bar Night: 4.5 out of 5. An early post game visit to the new sponsor pub Blooms yielded an unexpectedly long session for an 8am game. It certainly helped that members of several other teams arrived and left throughout the day to keep Tier 1 company.
Team (No new profiles this week): Mike Carducci (GK), Willian D’Andrea, Steve Roberts (DF), Manohar Venkataraman, Simon Mckeown, Simon Harrison, Tom Pattinson, Tim Frazier, Drew Faherty (DF), Marc Walby (DF), Oliver Roberts (DF), Eduardo Mazzi (DF), Eduardo Rainares, Franco Denari, Mark Resnik (DF), Santigo Morales