May 31, 2016
LEARNING ON THE RUN
Revamped Jersey Express prepares for another shot at the Cosmos in Open Cup
By Jean Pierre Guzhnay
With the team undergoing a major overhaul during the off-season, there are not many members of the Jersey Express who remember playing the Cosmos in last year's Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup.
So Express head coach Julian Richens is giving his Premier Development League team a crash course on the Cosmos, who recorded a 3-0 third-round win in 2015.
The teams meet in yet another third-round encounter at Belson Stadium at St. John's University at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“It was 12 months ago, that game has been forgotten very quickly,” Richens told BigAppleSoccer.com.
“We only have three starters from last year’s team, so we are [adapting very quickly] in order to carry out what exactly we want to do this season.”
The Express booked its ticket to the third round of the cup competition after defeating New York Pancyprian Freedoms in regulation, 1-0, through an 80th-minute goal by Ansger Otto.
With last week`s 4-2 victory over Ocean City FC in a PDL Mid-Atlantic Division contest, the Express enter the match with a great level of confidence.
“My No. 1 priority is the PDL games," Richens said. "We got two very important wins in the U.S. Open Cup so far and we will be looking forward to the Cosmos game.”
The Cosmos also look to secure a potential spring season title clinching victory at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers Saturday night.
“They`ve had an NASL match [right before our] game and they have another NASL match this week," Richens said. “It will be interesting to see how they will set up.
“After [the Ocean City win] our confidence is up, but it's still very early in our season. We`ll take one game at a time and do our best to win it and go to the next game.”
While the Express is a new team for the most part, there are still some players who are in the current squad that faced the Cosmos last year.
Veteran midfielder Christopher Karcz was excited of having another shot at the Cosmos but also has reveled a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity that his teammates have in playing such a big side.
“It`s really exciting for myself," the 33-year-old midfielder. "I’m on the older side, so I’m not sure how many chances I will get to play teams like these.
“But for the other guys in the team, hopefully they’ll show themselves to the coaches or whoever is watching, and hopefully one day they can play teams like [the Cosmos]. It’s exciting to play, and it’s exciting for the younger guys to hopefully get to the next level.”
While the Express face a tough battle ahead, Karcz was confident this time around the team can do much better against the Cosmos.
“We competed; I think we could have done a little better, and now, here we have our chance," he said. "Maybe with a little luck, this time we can do a little better.”
Perhaps Karcz's air power will be the difference.
In last year's second-round Open Cup win over the Red Bulls II, he tallied the lone goal of the match off a 58th-minute header.
Last weekend, Karcz scored twice off of corner kicks in the Express`s win over Ocean City.