Contributed by Steven Torres
Photo Credit Francisco Rivas
With the New York Red Bulls hosting CD Guadalajara (Chivas) in the second-leg of the 2018 CONCACAF Champion League Semifinals on Tuesday, we take a historical look back at another club from the "Big Apple" that represented the United States at the annual confederation club tournament.
The New York Pancyprian-Freedoms, founded in 1974, competed in consecutive CONCACAF Champions' Cups (1983, 1984)
The Cosmopolitan Soccer League (CSL) member followed in the footsteps of NY Hungaria SC, NY Greek-American AA, NY Inter-Guiliana SC, Elizabeth SC and Brooklyn Dodgers SC (now Brooklyn Italians) as participants in the confederation event.
The Pancyprian-Freedoms quickly achieved club success when it captured both the CSL Championship as well as the National Challenge Cup (U.S. Open Cup) on three occasions in the same years, (1979, 1980, 1982).
After withdrawing its qualifications berth to the Champions' Cup the year before, the Pancyprian-Freedoms, under player-coach and Greek international Dimitris "Mimis" Papaioannou, took part in the 1983 CONCACAF tournament and became the first U.S. Club to visit the Central American Region since 1972 when it dropped a 2:1 decision to CD Motagua of Honduras in the opening round on April 10.
The first-leg encounter took place at Tegucigalpa's Tiburcio Carias Andino Stadium and Motagua had a 2:0 advantage in the first ten minutes of the match with goals from forwards Antonio Obando (8th) and Luis Reyes (10th). The Pancyprian-Freedoms answered in the second half with a tally from forward Evagoras Christofi in the 53rd minute, but the Honduran side held on for the victory.
The return leg took place on Apr. 26, at Queens' Metropolitan Oval and Papaioannou's squad posted a 3:1 win over visiting Motagua to advance to the next round against Atlante FC of Mexico.
The two clubs had agreed to have the Pancyprian-Freedoms host both second-round matches.
The first encounter was played at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island on June 12, and the crowd of 1,500 witnessed a 1:1 draw between the two teams. Foward Mario Hernandez's goal gave Atlante the lead in the 38th minute, but Papiaoannou tied it for his club with 25 minutes remaining.
Two days later, Atlante posted a 3:2 overtime victory in the second match at Hofstra Stadium in Hempstead, Long Island. The crowd of 5,000 saw the Pancyprian-Freedoms jump to a 1:0 first-half lead, however midfielder Jose Luis Gonzalez tied it for the Potros de Hierro four minutes into the second stanza.
Polish World Cup midfielder Grzegorz Lato gave Atlante a 2:1 advantage with a tally in the 60th minute, but Papiaoannou's team leveled it with 17 minutes remaining to force extra time.
Defender Alejandro Ramirez scored the game-winner for Atlante with two minutes remaining in overtime and eliminated the Pancyprian-Freedoms from the 1983 Champions' Cup.
After capturing its third U.S. Open Cup the year before, the Pancyprian-Freedoms qualified for the 1984 CONCACAF tournament and earned an opening round bye when their opponents' Hotels International FC of Bermuda withdrew from the competition.
The New York club once again hosted both games (Hofstra Stadium) of the second round as it took on defending Mexican League Champion Puebla FC.
After the first match ended scoreless on June 17, the Pancyprian-Freedoms earned a 4:2 victory on penalty kicks in the second match, three days later following a 2:2 draw.
With the score tied at 1:1, after regulation time, Christofi gave the hosts a 2:1 lead five minutes into the overtime period. However, Puebla sent the game into the shootout after forward Enrique Lopez Zarza tied the match in the 110th minute-mark.
After Lopez Zarza and defender Arturo Alvarez missed Puebla's last two penalty kicks, midfielder George Touros scored the Pancyprian-Freedoms' fourth goal to clinch a spot into the next round.
The CSL Club hosted both encounters (Metropolitan Oval) of the tournament's third round against two-time Honduran League Champion CD Vida with each one ending in a 1:1 tie on September 29 and October 2, respectivley.
With a spot into the final round on the line, the New York side once again prevailed on penalty kicks, after the second match, 5:3.
The Pancyprian-Freedoms were scheduled to meet Chivas with the winner to face Violette AC of Haiti for the confederation title.
However after the postponements of two rescheduled matches, both the U.S. and Mexican sides were disqualified by CONCACAF as they failed to agree on dates for the encounters, therefore awarding the title to the Haitian club.
Written by Steven Torres