NPSL Match Day #1
Boston City FC v New York Cosmos B
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Malden Catholic High School, Malden, MA
Kick Off: 6:00PM
This chilly and slightly wet evening, I witnessed the first ever football match of Boston City Football Club. Before I move to the football, there are a few things which need to be said. First of all, what an achievement by a huge community of people. To build something from nothing is fantastic. To channel that feeling of community into a football match, a football club and a football stadium is something to be truly proud of. From the ticket office, to the staff at the gates, the gentleman selling drinks and the delightful ladies selling merchandise it was a pleasure to be a part of it all.
Walking through the gates, ticket in hand, there was that feeling of community instantly. A lot of people working for very little, to support this venture and to enjoy some league football. The replica shirts and badged t shirts were nice, and after purchasing mine I threw it over my shoulder and headed to the bleachers. One of the most difficult things to create in a small sporting stadium, with a small capacity, is an atmosphere. This was done in a simple, and entertaining way tonight, with good loud music, people mingling around the pitch and the nicely sung national anthem before kick off. When the game got underway a few simple but effective chants got the noise levels rising in the small stand. The referee added to this noise with a few badly made decisions and it gave people speaking different languages the ability to communicate as one. Knowing nods, rolled eyes and shaken heads, all in a tight and compact area.
The players who were vocally supported by friends, family and strangers like myself seemed very up for the game against New York Cosmos – a side who won the championship last season having lost only one game. Some quick passing coupled with aggression in important parts of the pitch meant that Boston were on top early and threatened the goal a fair few times. The pace of #18 and #9 up front really posing problems, as did the the strength of 18 in particular. Following a few half chances the away keeper made a strong save following a whipped in free kick. The set plays were an issue for the Cosmos defense with the crossbar having been rattled early on after a great free kick from distance. The chances were stacking up, and following a quick break down the left hand side, a cross found its way to the central midfielder who smashed a shot goalwards only for it to be blocked by an onrushing defender.
A first goal ever for Boston seemed odds on and it arrived from a corner from Yaw Addow. A header smashed under the keeper. His wild celebrations told a story of a man who cares deeply about this new venture, however this wildness also controversially gave way to his downfall. Following some robust challenges he was booked early in the game, but a needless foul on the half way line approaching the break led to a second yellow, and an early shower. Could be argued to have been harsh, but equally fair.
With the Bostonians 1-0 up at half time, but down to 10 men, discussions around me moved to what could be done to hold on for 3 points, or even one. A disallowed goal in the first half for the Cosmos seemed to ring alarm bells as to their biggest threat which was pace. As a consequence of this, City sat deep as the second period began and seemed to nullify that threat. The Cosmos however started to switch play out wide and this caused the Boston boys a problem. Two own goals in succession seemed to kill hope of a fairytale first time win. The first from a cross from the left where the helpless keeper was left stranded by a poor swipe from the centre half which looped into the back of the net.
After holding firm and threatening on the break, City gave away a free kick which would prove to be their undoing. A ball whipped in skipped over one attacker, whilst the following defender crashed the ball into his own net. An unfortunate way to give away a goal, despite much early promise.
The legs seemed to become weary as the game wore on and whilst a few long balls threatened to cause problems on the break, coupled with a few well taken free kicks and corners, the game was ended as a contest by a killer third goal. Some slightly questionable defending by Boston meant three players jumped for the same ball and neither got a decent contact on it. As a consequence an unmarked Cosmos man arrived at the back post and scored the third goal.
As the rain came down, a revival never looked likely but I don’t think spirits were dampened in the City camp despite the result. There was positivity everywhere and the crowd kept singing throughout the game. A few questionable refereeing decisions changed what could have been a perfect start to life for Boston City. Yaw may come to regret his aggressive approach which allowed the momentum to shift and gift the Cosmos a route back in to the game – a game City were controlling. Boston look like a team who are hard to beat with a powerful midfield, quick attackers and a solid defense. 4 particularly at the back looking effective in clearing long balls, and equally comfortable with the ball at his feet. The goalkeeper also had a good game, although he may be disappointed with his concession of the third goal where some slightly better footwork could have helped him.
Whilst the result may not have been the one home players and fans alike wanted, the performance showcased players with ability, desire and guile who can certainly contend against sides like the Cosmos. The result doesn’t reflect their potential but the performance promises a lot.
As we walked out to the car in the worsening rain, there was a large smile on my face. Not because of the result, but because I have finally found a football team I enjoy supporting in Boston. Well done to everyone involved. Let’s make sure it’s the result we all want next Saturday.
Follow Dai Rees on twitter @dairees1984, and his personal blog at shearersennaandseve.tumblr.