NY Greek American Faces Toluca & Cruz Azul During '68 & '70 Champions' Cup

By Sean McCaffery, April 4, 2018

Contributed by Steven Torres

With the New York Red Bulls visiting CD Guadalajara (Chivas) in the semifinals of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League this week, we take a historical look back at the second-ever club from the "Big Apple" to represent the United States at the annual confederation club tournament.

New York Greek American AA (Atlas Astoria) Soccer Club followed in the footsteps of fellow Cosmopolitan Soccer League member -NY Hungaria SC- as it qualified for two CONCACAF Champions' Cups (1968, 1970).

Founded in 1941, NY Greek American secured its' berth into the 1968 confederation event after capturing the National Challenge Cup (now U.S. Open Cup) the year before.

Under the direction of Alketas Panagoulias, who went on to coach his native Greece Men's National Team as well as the U.S. squad in the 1980's, NY Greek American opened the 1968 tournament in Hamilton, Bermuda with a 2:1 loss to host Somerset Cricket Club on May 26.

Rudolph Smith and Roger Russell scored for the Bermudian side, while George Andreov had the only goal for the U.S. Club at the Hamilton Stadium.

A week later (June 2), D. Tzimas' goal gave the Greek American side a 1:0 victory over Somerset with the second-leg held at Randall's Island Downing Stadium to force a playoff match at the same venue the following month.

John Kosmidis and Peter Tsalouhidis provided the tallies for the hosts in the 2:1 triumph against the two-time Bermudian champions during the playoff encounter on July 7.

Palagoulias' squad progressed to the North American Zone Second Round of the Champions' Cup  and took on the two-time defending Mexican League Champion CD Toluca, who had former national coach Ignacio Trelles at the helm.

Photo source, Cosmopolitan Soccer League.

A crowd of 12,000 witnessed Amaury Epaminondas scored twice, while Francisco Linares and Felipe Ruvalcaba each added a tally for host Toluca in the 4:1 win over Greek American side in the first-leg at Nemesio Diez Stadium on September 29.

In the second-leg a month later (October 6) the Diablos Rojos completed the sweep with a hard-fought 3:2 road victory against NY Greek American at Downing Stadium in front of 2,000 spectators. Epaminondas, Ruvalcaba and Juan Dosal scored for Toluca, while Victor Jurisenvic and John Kosmides had the only tallies for the Greek American side in the loss.

Two years later, and after capturing its third consecutive U.S. Open Cup,  the Greek American squad made its' return the CONCACAF tournament (1970) and took on the defending champions CD SC Cruz Azul of Mexico.

The two-time Mexican League champions needed a goal from national team striker Octavio Mucino with six minutes remaining to defeat host NY Greek American, 1:0 in the first-leg held at Gaelic Park in the Bronx before 1,300 fans on June 30, 1970.

The return-leg, two weeks later (July 12) had a crowd of 15,000 witnessing La Maquina blank the visiting Greek American side, 5:0, at Jasso's 10 de Diciembre Stadium. After an own goal, Cruz Azul added a pair of tallies from Mucino and Jose Luis Guerrero in the win. La Maquina were coached by three-time World Cup Mexican Legend Raul Cardenas.

Authored by Steven Torres