A game-picture of NY Pancyprian Freedoms' game versus NY Shamrock SC last season. NY Shamrock SC Images
Sept. 23rd, 2017
34 years after winning their third Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup title, NY Pancyprian Freedoms will look to qualify for the competition alongside a record breaking of 108 amateur teams.
The Freedoms' first opponent will be Newtown Pride F.C from the Connecticut Soccer League, who they will host on Sunday at St. John's University Belson Stadium at noon.
NY Pancyprian outside midfielder Luis Esteves reminisced on the low-division teams that excelled in the Open Cup last season, F.C Cincinnati and Christos F.C, and is delighted of the opportunity his team has to qualify for the cup.
"That's the great thing about cup football, anything can happen," the former Seattle Sounders U-23 player said. "Lower league teams have a chance because anything can happen on that day, which makes this competition so great. It gives smaller teams a chance to play against MLS and other professional teams."
NY Pancyprian midfielder Jeff Matteo. Picture by Devaughn Clasp
Esteves is assured that his side will come out victorious over Newtown this Sunday to move a step closer to the Open Cup.
“Personally I am focused, just like the rest of the team we are definitely ready for the game this Sunday and I think we are confident going into the game that we can get a positive result,” he said.
Last time the Freedoms qualified for the Open Cup was two years ago. They edged New York Red Bulls U-23 2-1 at home in the first round before getting eliminated by Jersey Express 1-0 in the second round in another home-game.
The Astoria-based club missed out on the opportunity to qualify for the cup the following season as they lost to Lansdowne Bhoys 3-2 in extra-time in the first round of the qualifiers.
“Of course we do remember being knocked out last year,” Esteves said. “But this is a new year and a new season and the great thing about cup football is that anything can happen on [game] day.”
Prior to that, he said: “The boys are extremely excited about this match.”
NY Pancyprian tied their first two league-games of the season, to Zum Schneider FC, 3-3, on opening day and to Cedar Stars Academy, 2-2, last week.
“The season is still very young, it was not the most ideal start to the season but the season is long, we look at it as a marathon not a sprint,” the 25-year-old noted.
Esteves netted the opener of his side’s 2-2 draw with Cedar Stars last week. He’s hoping to transfer his form in the league into the Open Cup.
“I always try to bring a positive mindset to my game regardless of whether I score not, of course I'm confident coming into the game and hopefully I can build on the goal I scored last game,” the former St. John’s University player said.
Esteves competed in the Open Cup with Seattle Sounders U-23 team in 2014.
As for Newtown, unlike Pancyprians, they won their first three league-matches of the season, outscoring their opponents 11-1.
The Connecticut-based team was knocked out of the qualifier last season in the second round by Global Premier Soccer Omens 3-1. The previous season they were eliminated by Lansdowne 3-0 in the first round.