The Brooklyn Italians celebrate one of their three goals Sunday night. (Matthew Levine/Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Brooklyn Italians will barely have time to catch their breath after booking a spot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Only three days after dispatching Cosmos B, 3-2, in a play-in match Sunday night, the National Premier Soccer League side will host the Lansdowne Bhoys in a first-round game at the LIU Brooklyn Athletic Complex Wednesday at 8 p.m.
“It’s going to be another very competitive game,” Italians coach Dominic Casciato said Sunday night. “It’s going to be another difficult game for us. It’s important that we don’t let tonight be the highlight of our season. We have to build on this now and that was my message to the players in the locker room. Tonight has been great, but we move on and play again on Wednesday.”
Lansdowne is one of the best, if not the best amateur team in the United States. A powerhouse in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, Lansdowne captured not one, but two national championships in 2017. During a two-week span last summer, the Bhoys secured the National Amateur Cup and the Werner Fricker Cup.
No mean feat, at all.
“When we play against Lansdowne, we’ll get as much information on them as we can,” Casciato said. “We’ll come up with a game plan and we’ll hope it works.”
Midfielder-forward Rasmus Hansen, who tallied twice in the match (including the 11th-hour game-winner), just shrugged it off.
“That’s how the summer is, but you get used to it,” he said. “College is like that as well. We’ll be ready, we’ll be ready.”
It certainly won’t hurt the Italians playing back at LIU.
“This is my home,” said Hansen, who plays his college soccer with the Blackbirds. “I know the field. I have a little advantage.”
The Italians are made up of college players from the metropolitan area — LIU Brooklyn, St. Francis Brooklyn College, St. John’s University and New Jersey schools.
So, defeating Cosmos B, which has several Major League Soccer veterans, was one big win for Brooklyn.
“It’s huge, it’s huge,” Casciato said. “You can see it the pay it’s built as the Cosmos, what they’re paying their guys every month, compared to what we pay our guys, which is zero. We’re a team full of college kids. Our motto is to try to recruit the best local college players, work with them over the summer, help them get better and help push them into the MLS or USL or NASL or overseas, when they’re done with us and ready to leave school. It’s a massive win for the club. It’s another chapter in the club’s rich history. Hopefully tonight, there will be people who take notice of this result because we have some very very good players who should be going into MLS.”
Casciato was the Italians director of coaching until last year before he had an offer to return to Spain — he lives there will his girlfriend is finishing her master’s degree there — to work with Espanyol’s Academy. He came back to the U.S. about two weeks ago.
He was asked to be head coach. “I said, ‘Why not?’ ” Casciato said. “I would love to get the guys together again. We have the Open Cup to look forward to.”
It Brooklyn wins, the National Premier Soccer League side will travel to Cary, N.C. to meet North Carolina FC (United Soccer League) at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park May 16 at 7 p.m.
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