It was dubbed a friendly but yesterday’s match between Bermuda Select and the New York Cosmos was anything but as the North American Soccer League champions saved face with an injury-time equaliser at the National Stadium
The match had at least three flare-ups in the second half as frustration began to show in the Cosmos team after Tre Ming’s bizarre opener gave Bermuda a shock lead. For the next half hour the young Bermuda side held out the Cosmos with a professional display of their own as the tackles started to fly in.
“They’re the ones who started it, we just stood up for ourselves,” said Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, who was involved in a late scuffle himself with a member of the Cosmos bench.
“Justin [Corday] made a clear foul but their player was going after him so I stopped him from going after my player. It only got physical because they were losing.”
To their credit, the Bermuda players, some playing together for the first time, were not intimidated by their opponents, who the Dominican Republic 5-1 in a friendly this month.
“They weren’t afraid to dig in, these are the guys we have to work with,” Lightbourne said of the Bermuda players. “We just have to build a pool of players we can pick from.
“We picked a lot of youngsters, I thought the goalkeeper Stefan [Dill] did well. Tactically they [Cosmos] are a good team and from a coaching standpoint there are a few things you can pick up off what they did.”
Lightbourne admits it would have been a memorable win had Bermuda been able to hold on.
“Psychologically, it was pros playing against amateurs and they didn’t want to lose,” said Lightbourne, who played for Stoke City and Coventry City.
“I thought Justin should have taken the ball down into the corner and not try to go for the goal. They scored right off it but hopefully we’ll learn from that.
“I was very impressed with Robert [Rawlings] up front, he put in a good shift. He’s aggressive and I like that he has that about him. He put their defenders under a lot of pressure today.
“The Cosmos are preparing for their season and I hope they are in game mode now.”
Giovanni Savarase, the Cosmos coach, appreciated the test they received ahead of their season opener away to Puerto Rico FC next weekend.
“It was good for us, a very competitive match and we liked it a lot because they put us in some trouble,” Savarase said. “This was what we needed, to have a difficult match and credit to the guys from Bermuda, they gave us a tough match.
“In the second half they became more aggressive and found that goal because of the wind and then they started delaying the game which is something we have to deal with. They did everything possible to try to get the result.
“It’s all part of the game and we need to manage it because some teams are going to do that to us. If we become physical then the other team needs to understand because it is a give and take. It is always good to get a fair result, we don’t like to lose, even in a friendly match.”