Five-time Open Cup winner Riley ponders on the opportunity to qualify for the tournament with the Freedoms

By Ralph 'Onz'Chery

NY Pancyprian Freedoms defender James Riley in his days with Seattle Sounders. 

 

Sept. 25th, 2017

 

Ex-MLS player and five-time U.S Open Cup champion James Riley won his first Open Cup qualifier with NY Pancyprian Freedoms on Sunday as his side downed Newtown Pride F.C 2-1 home at St. John’s University Belson Stadium.

Riley reflected on the opportunity he has to enter the Open Cup as an amateur player after going one step closer with the win over Newtown.  

“It would be great, it would be funny to do so,” the defender said. “Obviously it’s a dream for amateur clubs to qualify [for the Open Cup] and that’s the beauty of the tournament. So if you get a group of guys who have some belief and get a few lucky bounces you can do it for sure.”

Riley lost in the first round of the qualification last year with NY Pancyprians against Lansdowne Bhoys 3-2 in extra-time.

The fullback was delighted that his side bounced back with a win this season.

“It’s fantastic, listen, it’s a historic club, an historic tournament and it always feels great to win,” Riley said after the game. “I never take that for granted.”

The Colorado native noted that the competition has improved over the years.

“It’s funny I watched the final recently this week and it’s just amazing how far the tournament has come. It’s exciting, obviously it means a lot to the people that play it so it’s good to be a part of it. This club [NY Pancyprian Freedoms] has a great history so I’m excited to contribute in any way that I can—stay fit, stay healthy, enjoy the game.”

The second of the three rounds of the qualifiers is on Oct. 21st and on Oct. 22nd. The Queens-based club’s next opponent is CSL rivals and amateur champions Lansdowne Bhoys.

The Freedoms won the Open Cup three times in the pre-MLS era in 1980, 1982 and 1983.

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