Without a single playable field in Western New York between the end of the NCAA eligibility freeze and Saturday’s US Open Cup qualifier, the 2011 edition of FC Buffalo took a seven-hour bus trip to Brooklyn to contest a match without any training.
All that said, the guys did great despite exiting the tournament with a 1-0 road loss.
The available Blitzers had a number of mainstays and roster members still finishing college finals and unable to attend when they boarded the bus for NYC. When the team met the Brooklyn Italians for their 5 p.m. EST kickoff, they lined up this way:
——————————-GK- Pat Regna——————————
Jeremy Watson—-Corey Phillips—-Brian Leonard—-Andrew Larracuente
Mike Reidy———————Jacob Reisdorf——————–Stephen Baker
————–Matt Stedman—————-Victor Gonzalez—————–
The start of the game was tenuous at best but the talent of the squad Coach Dan Krzyzanowicz assembled began to pay off in spades with numerous chances spurred by Baker and Reidy on the wings for a solid 20 minute span in the first half. The teams traded chances the rest of the way with the Italians attempting to find tall, speedy forward Jorge Joseph with long ball after long ball. After a solid Blitzers possession ended without a cross, Brooklyn hit a long cross that Joseph latched onto yards beyond midfield. Joseph slipped it past a sliding Regna to put the Italians on top heading into the break. One card was shown in the first half, with Stedman picking up a yellow for dissent after consecutive offsides calls.
FC Buffalo responded with tremendous heart and continued to knock at the door in the second frame. Stedman collected a tremendous through ball from Reidy and moved into the box a step ahead of his defender. Helpless, the Brooklyn keeper dove at Stedman, missing the ball but grabbing a hold of the forward’s boot. Down went Stedman and the couple dozen Blitzer supporters at the ground applauded at the suspected penalty kick. The official decided instead to grant a goal kick for Brooklyn.
Regna was brilliant between the sticks, turning away several brilliant Brooklyn counter attacks until one sent the keeper to the emergency room. Mostafa Haridi met Regna in the box and both players required medical attention; Haridi for emergency dental surgery after a grotesque mouth injury and Regna for a sizable laceration below the knee.
The Blitzers used two subs in the match. Eighteen-year-old Frankie Valente entered in the 64′ and provided a much-needed spark, nearly equalizing in the process. Goalkeeper Craig Yanni played the final 10 minutes for Regna and turned away several shots.
Brooklyn advance to play FC Sonic on May 27 in the final qualifier for the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The Blitzers now turn their attention to their NPSL campaign, opening at home May 22 versus FC Reading Revolution at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium on Main Street in Buffalo. Season tickets remain available.