BROOKLYN, NY – The mood at the newly renovated Monitor Park swung more wildly than a pendulum on this overcast Sunday night. The crowd, the first ever sell-out in the club’s history, filed in early due to the excitement, and there was not an empty seat to be found by kick-off. The club’s first ever match outside of the bottom tier of U.S. football was about to get underway to start this, the club’s second season.
Greenpoint started with a bang, with fullback Philip Zhu, with the club since its inception, fired the Growlers ahead with a 25 yard bullet just five minutes in. From there, the opponent, Bluesters United, settled in, quieting the crowd in the 18th minute before going ahead in the 38th.
The despair in the crowd turned to hope by the hour mark and elation again on 66 minutes when Greenpoint leveled the score at 2-2. Eager for a winner, the crowd was in full voice until the dying minutes, when goal scorer Joffre Silver was crunched by an opponent and had to be stretchered off the pitch. Stunned at this turn of events, the crowd fell silent until the final whistle closed out a gut-wrenching 2-2 draw.
“If the rest of this season goes like that, it’s going to take years off our lives,” said manager Zorro Cat joking after the match. “The ups and the downs of just those 90 minutes were more than I was expecting.”
While he was in a reasonably good mood regarding the result, the manager did have bad news to confirm regarding the health of Joffre Silver.
“It looks bad,” he said. “There could be some minor ligament damage in Joffre’s knee. We’re all very disappointed, because he has scored some huge goals for us in the past month; he had the winner that got us to this point, he had a brace midweek, and he had the equalizer today. We’re all gutted for him, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be back until mid-July at the earliest.”
Greenpoint started the match with a bang. Philip Zhu’s first career goal came from a thunderous strike from 25 yards out that sent the Monitor Park crowd into a frenzy and shocked the visiting Bluesters, who might have expected a bit less from the newly promoted Greenpoint side.
But Bluesters would not stay down for long, as the road side found holes in Greenpoint’s central defense twice during the first half to take a 2-1 lead. In the 18th minute, it was homegrown midfielder Kurt Porter who found the hole between Trevor Marzullo and Imre Medvegy. In the 38th minute, it was Portuguese striker Henrique Fernandes Domingos. Bluesters had the 2-1 advantage after an even first half in terms of possession time.
Still down at the hour mark, Greenpoint made a tactical shift that saw holding midfielder Slawomir Niemczak take more of an offensive role in the game. Six minutes later, the home side were level at 2-2. It was Joffre Silver, again from a set piece, just like the goal he scored against St. Louis to earn his team promotion.
With two dozen minutes to play, the match was in the balance once again, and Greenpoint tried to make some more tactical substitutions to find a winner. Orn Saemundsson came on the front line in place of Jack Baumgardt-Wellander. Anatoly Khoroshaylov replaced Jacobo Esperon on the back line. Neither move was enough to find a third goal.
In the 87th minute, the crowd fell silent when Joffre Silver caught his leg awkwardly in the pitch when colliding with a Bluesters player. The eerie silence turned to a standing ovation when Silver was carried off, the crowd recognizing his achievements over the past month. Pierre Scheuzger replaced him.
“We’re going to need someone to step up and take Joffre’s place,” said the manager. “We have a few wingers who were out of form, so hopefully they can find their boots and play at his level while he’s out.”
Greenpoint, now unbeaten in 12 competitive fixtures, are next in action on Wednesday at Monitor Park when they host Spartan Curbstomp F.C. in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. Kick-off is at 7:00 p.m.