Rovers Metro crisply demolished a feisty Albanian o30 side at McCarran Park today as they warmed up for the Cosmo League restart with a Saunders Cup win that wasn't quite as one-sided as the result indicates.
With blue skies, not much wind, and a field almost entirely cleared of snow (!) the conditions were perfect at kickoff - and the Rovers free-scoring strike pairing of Jorge Espanol and Brandon Rowley quickly re-established their fine fall form with two goals in the opening quarter-hour.
Partizani didn't crumble and neither did they resort to dirty tactics (though there was the usual level of ref-whinging from both sides). They kept pushing up the wings and though they didn't create many clear-cut chances, Rovers had to defend smartly. Counter-attacks exposed a weak Partizani defence, but over-elaboration in front of goal meant Rovers ended the half with a comfortable lead. But the result was by no means settled.
Playing with the wind behind them, Partizani came out strongly in the second half and pushed Rovers back. Though they didn't particularly challenge James in goal, they did press more on the defence, preventing the easy passing Rovers had enjoyed in the first half.
Rovers continued to be dangerous on the counter-attack and despite the best efforts of the Partizani keeper - who made half-a-dozen excellent saves - Rowley and Espanol each bagged another goal midway through the half to kill the game as a contest.
Jorge would have sealed his hat-trick in the last seconds but he was cynically clipped from behind as he was bearing down on goal. The defender was sent off, and Jorge was pissed off, but Aldo Morales was on target with the free kick - right into the top corner, making it 5-0 with the last kick of the game.
Rovers in Williamsburg enjoying soccer action: James, Colin, Wino, Villy, Mike, Aldo, Tommy, Mackers, Tim, Sal, Remo, Jorge, Brandon. [Props to Mike, Tim, and Sal from the o30s for helping out.]
Rovers in a hot tub somewhere in the Catskills, quite possibly enjoying some Anglo-Latino man-on-man action but definitely not helping beat Balkans in Brooklyn: Sergio, Nelson, Gustavo, Brown, Jay, Bruce.