Cosmos Lend Puerto Rico FC a Helping Hand

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PRFC logoSoccer teams typically arrive a day or two before a scheduled road match. The current situation in Puerto Rico after the recent devastation of Hurricane Maria, though, means Puerto Rico FC is unable to follow the usual protocol.

In an interview with Neil Morris on the Inverted Triangle Podcast, PRFC president Tom Payne provided an update on the team’s status after the storm and the work that’s been done to ensure the team is ready to kick off against the New York Cosmos at MCU Park in Brooklyn on Sunday.

Payne wanted to have the team in New York early in the week to take a breath and collect itself, but securing flights off the island has been tough. Ten players who were in the United States while Maria battered the island were able to land in New York on Tuesday, while the rest of the squad has been arriving sporadically throughout the week.

To take a little of the burden off PRFC, the Cosmos stepped in to organize hotel rooms and reserve Mitchel Field on Long Island so their opponent had a place to train and prepare as best they can for Sunday.

“Most of the guys’ cleats are back in Puerto Rico, really they are,” Payne told Morris. “We couldn’t reach our team administrator at all, our team trainer. Really it’s been myself and our assistant coach who stayed in the United States, Jack Stefanowski who’s been doing everything, from flight itineraries to hotels. The Cosmos have been a really big help. They helped us sort out the hotel, helped us get the training field, got us balls, pinnies and cones thankfully. And they were willing to switch the games, which will now supposedly be an Oct. 28 home game, but that’s really up in the air as well.”

The Cosmos have also offered assistance by contributing to relief efforts on the island, as well as PRFC staff specifically. The team donated more than $500 to a gofundme set up to aid PRFC staff that has raised $10,000 so far. Additionally, half of all $10 tickets bought for this Sunday’s match using the code PUERTORICO will go toward hurricane relief on the island.

Before the storm hit, the Cosmos were scheduled to travel to PRFC this weekend. With power knocked out on the entire island that became impossible, so they swapped home matches with PRFC. Damage to PRFC’s Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, however, and uncertainty on when electricity may be restored to the island likely mean the team’s remaining five matches will need to be played elsewhere.

Payne is holding out hope that his team can play at least one more match on the island as a celebration of the people, but there’s no telling if it will be possible at this point.

“There’s major damage [to the stadium], certainly the lights got blasted. The goals got snapped in half. We’ve got photos of all that,” he said. “In all likelihood, you’re probably looking at every game off the island. That’s not a formal statement. A few days ago the city actually felt a little bit better about maybe putting the rest of the home games on. At the end of the day, even I understand it’s really not that important, soccer in the big scheme of things. It’s much more important that this city of Bayamón is handing out food and water and helping people with shelter, power, and all those things. I really don’t too many expectations for them to be worried about our stadium at this point in time.”

This weekend Payne will just be content to have his team in one place safe and sound.

“We’re gonna go out on the field and play as hard as we can, but I can’t have many expectations right now to be frank. I’m just gonna be really happy to give all the guys a hug and see them.”