OPEN DOOR SHUTS G-A Atlas eliminated from U.S. Open Cup
By Dylan Butler
BigAppleSoccer.com Associate Editor
JAMAICA, N.Y. — Once again Greek-American Atlas, an amateur side of close friends, found themselves in the U.S. Open Cup first round. Once again they hosted a Premier Development League powerhouse at big Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University.
And once again the result was the same. A year after falling to the Cape Cod Crusaders by three goals, the Greek-Americans dropped a 3-0 decision to the Ocean City Barons Wednesday night.
Ocean City advances to the second round where they’ll host the Long Island Rough Riders June 29 at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, N.J.
“We said all along our aim was to get to the third round where the MLS teams come in,” Ocean City coach Neil Holloway said. “We’ll be looking to knock off Long Island and move on. One gone and another one to come.”
The final result was seemingly inevitable. It was more a matter of when the younger, fitter side would finally break through.
That answer came in the 62nd minute, when the ball was pushed from Joe Brocker to Ryan Heins and finally to Byron Carmichael, who tapped the ball past Greek-American keeper Mike Mellis.
After knocking on the door for the first half, Ocean City finally had the lead they deserved.
And they added onto the lead, scoring twice in the final two minutes of the game despite being reduced to 10 men after Joe Brocker was sent off for a retaliatory head butt on Frank Alesci in the 84th minute. Alesci, who initially threw an elbow, was given a yellow card by referee Steve Karaduzovic. It was one of eight bookings in the chippy game.
First it was Hofstra’s Michael Todd, who made the most of a mistake by Greek-American defender Mirsad Huseinovic, whose miskick put Todd free towards goal in the 88th minute.
Almost immediately off the ensuing kickoff, Tony Donatelli won the ball and ran right through the heart of the Greek-American defense to put Ocean City ahead, 3-0 in the 89th minute.
“We have guys who are in the their mid to late 30s and they have 20-year-olds and it took its toll towards the end of the game,” Huseinovic said. “I’m probably twice the age of some of the guys on the other team.”
Ocean City had several chances in the first half, including headers over the crossbar by Matt Maher and Carmichael two minutes apart, and its best opportunity came 10 minutes into the second half. But Ruben Mingo was robbed by Mellis, who made a stunning kick save to keep the game scoreless and keep the Barons frustrated.
“These amateur teams have a lot of experience, a lot of know how, they know how to wind young kids up,” Holloway said. “We’ve got kids 19, 20, 21 years old on our team and sometimes it’s easy to let the frustrations boil over. I think we did a good job, apart from one incident at the end there. Our strikers were getting kicked about all over the field all night long but we done well to keep our composure and in the end the best team won.”
The Greek-Americans, playing without stars Giovanni Savarese (who is on the verge of signing with the Rough Riders), Hemir Niebles (who signed an MLS contract and plays with the Chicago Fire Reserves) and Christos Zizimatos (who is in Greece for a tryout) never truly tested Ocean City keeper Ryan Carr.
“Amateurs, mentally, are not prepared for these types of games. They give up a goal and it’s over. It’s not over,” Greek-American Atlas coach Lucio Russo. “At the amateur level it’s, ‘we tried and now let’s go and have a drink.”
Ocean City Barons
Ryan Carr; John Thompson, Andy Tait, Joe Brocker, Adam Sternberger; Ryan Heins, Tony Donatelli, Steve Wacker (Jamie Franks-69), Ruben Mingo (Michael Todd-69); Matt Maher, Byron Carmichael (Ryan Overdevest-89).
Mike Mellis; Mirsad Huseinovic, Jack Gaeta, Daniel Barci, Jaime Arias; Frank Alesci, Sekou Cox, Chris Megaloudis, Mike Megaloudis (Ilya Zlater-72); Paul Grafas, Chris Torigio.
Ocean City — Byron Carmichael (Ryan Heins) 62
Ocean City — Michael Todd 88
Ocean City — Tony Donatelli 89
G.A. Atlas — Mirsad Huseinovic (yellow card) 10
G.A. Atlas — Sekou Cox (yellow card) 24
G.A. Atlas — Daniel Barci (yellow card) 38
G.A. Atlas — Jaime Arias (yellow card) 73
G.A. Atlas — Jack Gaeta (yellow card) 77
Ocean City — Byron Carmichael (yellow card) 77
G.A. Atlas — Frank Alesci (yellow card) 84
Ocean City — Joe Brocker (red card) 84