Cosmos to Go From Reading to Riyadh

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By JACK BELL

imgres-1The New York Cosmos face a daunting week of travel for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match next week, then a long trip to the Middle East for an exhibition game.

After Saturday’s North American Soccer League match against Puerto Rico FC at MCU Park in Brooklyn, the defending league champions will dive into the Open Cup. The Cosmos will face Reading United at Gene L. Shirk Stadium on the campus of Albright College in Pennsylvania in a second-round game of the Open Cup on Wednesday, May 19. That’s a drive of more than three hours from the club’s training center in Uniondale, N.Y.

After that game, the Cosmos will depart for Saudi Arabia to play an exhibition match against Al-Hilal on Saturday, May 20. The flight is generally more than 12 hours — each way — but we all know how punctual and accommodating plane travel is these days! As an added attraction, President Donald J. Trump will be in Saudi Arabia at the same time as the Cosmos, on the first-leg of his first trip outside the United States since his election last November. The president will also visit Israel and the Vatican, before a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and the Group of Seven summit in Sicily on May 26.

The game in Saudi Arabia forced the NASL to reschedule the Cosmos’ match against FC Edmonton from May 20 to June 7, a Wednesday night. New York will end up playing three games in seven days that week (away then home against North Carolina on June 4 and June 10).

On Wednesday night, Reading United defeated Clarkstown Eagles, 1-0, on a goal by the Haitian center forward, Frantzdy Pierrot. Pierrot drew a penalty kick late in the first half, but saw his shot from the spot saved. He recovered and headed home the rebound for the game’s only goal. The winner of the Cosmos-Reading match will advance to the third round and face a team from Major League Soccer.

If the Cosmos should defeat Reading United, New York would again advance to the third round, with a game on May 31. The Cosmos would play either the Ocean City Nor’easters in Ocean City, N.J., or host the Harrisburg City Islanders at Columbia University in Manhattan.