Its been one of Dan Fishers biggest weapons this season, but when injuries depleted his teams midfield, the Brooklyn Knights head coach was forced to start super-subs Rinaldo Chambers and Chris Lefferts Sunday at the Metropolitan Oval.
Chambers and Lefferts, who usually come off the bench for an injection of speed in the second half, were solid for the entire 90 minutes, leading the Knights to a 4-1 win over the Worcester Kings.
Chambers, a speedy forward from St. Peters, scored two goals and Lefferts, a standout at Kentucky, added an assist for the red-hot Knights, who won their sixth straight game and are in second place in the Premier Development Leagues Northeast Division.
The kids that usually come off the bench, they stepped up today, Fisher said. They grasped the opportunity to be in the starting 11. Id say probably 90 percent of the players on our team can be starters on a lot of other teams.
Brooklyn (8-2-1) is one point behind Vermont, which has played two more games than the Knights. The two teams meet Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Vermont.
Im ready to play whenever Im in the game, said Chambers, who is second on the Knights in scoring with five goals. Regardless if its off the bench or starting, Im ready to give whatever I got. It doesnt matter to me, Im ready to perform.
Despite missing starting midfielders Chris Aloisi, Alessandro Acquista and Chris Corcoran as well as Chris Wingert and Andre Schmid, the Knights came out strong, taking a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Craig Smart, who was named to the PDLs Team of the Week last week, flicked Joe Affuls free kick from just outside the six-yard box past Worcester keeper Mike Doherty for his fourth goal in as many games.
Smart, a recent Columbia graduate, chipped the ball over the Worcester defense in the 56th minute and Chambers ran onto it and tapped it into the net to put the Knights in front, 2-0.
It was a great ball and I just finished the run, said Chambers, who will join starting defender Rob Fucci to train in Brazil at the start of July. The defense was slow and I took advantage of it.
Worcester (1-10) cut its deficit in half a minute later when defender Brendan Burke headed in Brett Plumleys corner kick, and the Kings appeared to have an advantage in the 77th minute when Afful was sent off for his second yellow card of the game. But two minutes later Worcester was reduced to 10 men when Boston College starter Neil Krause was red-carded by referee Kenny Heller for an elbow behind the play.
The Knights, undefeated in seven home games, put the game away late, scoring two goals in a two-minute span at the end of the second half. Lefferts crossed the ball to Andre Borges and the Knights leading scorer netted his ninth goal of the year in the 89th minute. One minute into stoppage time, Chambers scored his second of the game when he easily tapped in Dohertys flubbed kick.
Rinaldos great off the bench because when other teams are a little tired he comes in and is a great spark, Fisher said. Rinaldo can be a starter for a majority of the teams, and hes a real key player in our system right now.
Brooklyn Knights 3, Jersey Shore Boca 0. Smart, Borges and Chambers scored for the Knights Friday at Ocean County College in Toms River, N.J.
New York Freedoms 2, Westchester Flames 0. Julio Cesar scored a pair of second-half goals, including a penalty kick in the 87th minute to lift the Freedoms (5-5-2 Pro-Select League) over Westchester June 18 at St. Johns University.
Westchester (6-6) had a golden opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute, but former Red Storm standout Danny Parkins penalty kick was saved by Nate Tickner.
Cesar then scored the first of his two goals in the 71st minute on an assist from recent St. Johns graduate Alberto Duenas before scoring his team-leading eighth goal of the year from the penalty spot.
The Freedoms host the Western Mass Pioneers (5-3-1) Sunday at DaSilva Field at 8 p.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2003 Community News Group