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Cosmos crash in Coney Island debut

April 3, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cosmos midfielder Walter Restrepo attempts to win the ball from Miami FC player Robert Kcira. Photos courtesy of the New York Cosmos
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The Cyclone and Coney Island amusement parks may have been closed for the season, but there was no shortage of entertainment at the New York Cosmos’ Brooklyn debut at MCU Park on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Reggaeton singer Farruko’s halftime performance, coupled with the festive atmosphere of opening day, provided far more excitement than the Cosmos’ performance, as the “New York Originals” were thoroughly outplayed in a 3-0 loss to Miami FC.

The ebullient crowd of 6,274 remained energized, despite the scoreline and frigid conditions as green smoke and chants cascaded from the supporters section throughout the match.

Former NYCFC player Kwadwo Poku who became a fan favorite during his brief one-year stint at Yankee Stadium — led Miami FC, creating fits for the Cosmos’ backline and orchestrating the second goal.  

The scoreboard read 3-0, but it easily could have been 4-0 or 5-0 were it not for a series of brilliant saves from goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, who earned Man of the Match honors for his heroics between the pipes.

Additionally, Miami FC midfielder Richie Ryan failed to convert a penalty in the 34th minute as his left-footed shot sailed over the goal.

The miss revitalized the crowd as chants of “New York Cosmos” rang out throughout the stadium and onto Surf Avenue.

The first goal came in the 51st minute, courtesy of an unmarked Dylan Mares who turned home a tantalizing cross from former Cosmos player Michael Lahoud with a first-time finish to the far post.

The second goal arrived in the 67th minute in the form of an own goal after Miami FC winger Vincenzo Rennella deflected his shot off Cosmos defender Ryan Richter and into the back of the net as Maurer dove the wrong way.

The final goal came as a result of another Cosmos mistake as defender David Ochieng slipped on a ball over the top, leaving Miami FC forward Stéfano Pinho one-on-one with the goalie. Pinho coolly took a touch around Maurer to cement the result for the visitors.

“The mistakes that we made allowed them to get on top,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese, who is entering his fifth season at the helm of the Cosmos. “If you look at the three goals, they were mistakes from our part, but I saw a lot of improvement from last week.

“We need time to continue to work. We need time to be able to keep on building. Today I saw a lot of good things, and unfortunately, those mistakes paralyzed us.”

The result left the Cosmos in seventh place out of eight teams in the North American Soccer League standings with only 1 point to show after two games. Miami FC moved up to first with the victory.  

“We must keep our head up and continue growing,” said Savarese. “It’s early in the season and there is still a lot of work to do. We will start preparing for our next match right away.”

Cosmos saw new signees Dejan Jaković and Javi Márquez earn their first starts for the club while Walter Restrepo earned his debut start of the 2017 season.

Ayoze was named captain in place of Carlos Mendes, who suffered a groin injury in training on Thursday.

For the second game in a row, the Cosmos failed to record a shot on target, an area of concern that Savarese will surely address in training this week.

Miami outshot the Cosmos 12-9 and out-possessed them 55 to 45 percent.

It was a physical game that saw a total of 27 fouls, five yellow cards and a bench-clearing brawl as tempers flared.

Cosmos defender Jimmy Mulligan lost his cool in the dying seconds on a hard tackle that saw him receive his second yellow card of the game and a one-match ban.

It was the first time that the Cosmos lost at home since September 2015 and it was the first-ever win for Miami FC against New York.

After the match, Maurer and Savarese preached patience as the team has only had a few weeks of training together and will need time to form rhythm, chemistry and connections.

“We just need more time,” said Maurer. “We had some fresh faces in there, only had a couple days of training and it’s not easy for anybody. That being said, we just have to be more focused every single one of us and hopefully, results will come.”

“We know the point that we are at right now and where we need to be and we just need to continue to work,” said Savarese. “Some players need to push themselves a little bit more, but the guys will react very well because we know that we need to give more and keep improving, and I saw a lot of improvement today.”

Savarese added, “We have to take the fact that we were able to do some good things with the ball. We need to make sure we’re a little bit more solid tactically; things that we saw today that could have been better. I feel that if we hadn’t of made those mistakes, it would have been a different game.”

The Cosmos will have a chance for revenge this weekend as they play Miami FC again, only this time under the palm trees of South Florida instead of the Coney Island Parachute Jump.

Kick-off is slated for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at FIU Stadium. MSG Networks and ESPN3 will broadcast the match.

The Cosmos, unaccustomed to losing, will be hoping for a better result when they return to MCU Park on April 22 against Jacksonville Armada FC.

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