Ledesma’s cheeky chip keeps Cosmos unbeaten on the road
Cosmos Keeper Maurer Becomes All-Time NASL Win Leader
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola — praised by soccer pundits as the best manager in the world — would have been elated with the New York Cosmos’ game-winning goal on Saturday.
Making his first North America Soccer League (NASL) start, the 28-year-old Argentine Emmanuel Ledesma scored on a chip in the 69th minute that will likely go down as one of the best of the season.
Starting with a goal kick, Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer played a short ball to Darrius Barnes, who transitioned the ball up the field through the feet of Andres Flores and Daniel Szetela, before finding Javi Marquez at half field.
Marquez turned and switched the ball to Ledesma, who took the ball in stride. Slowing down at the top of the 18-yard box, Ledesma lifted his head ever so slightly to find San Francisco goalkeeper Romuald Peiser — who proposed to his girlfriend before the game — off his line.
Ledesma then showed wonderful poise and skill to send a floated ball across the goal that kissed the far post and trickled in.
Guardiola, who instills a possession-based style of play in his teams and who demands his team to play out of the back, surely would have approved, as did Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese.
“Ledesma showed a lot of quality and composure. He saw the open space behind the keeper and scored,” said Savarese.
With the 1-0 win, the Cosmos ended San Francisco’s unbeaten streak, remained undefeated on the road and Maurer became the NASL all-time wins leader.
Despite those accolades, Savarese acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“It was a very difficult match,” he said. “We can still do better. We’re on the right track. What prevailed today was the [team’s] unity.”
Maurer wasn’t tested much, but he showed good positional goalkeeping throughout the game and did his best to minimize several dangerous crosses to earn his fifth shutout of the season.
It was a chippy game that saw six yellow cards issued. The Cosmos committed 14 fouls to San Francisco’s five.
The Cosmos now have more road wins than any NASL team since 2016, having won eight out of 19 away games.
The victory moved the Cosmos into a three-way tie for second place, but the team is listed fourth on goal differential. The Deltas dropped to fifth place.
It was a tall task for Savarese and his team as several key starters were out and San Francisco entered the game in first place, tied with Jacksonville for conceding the fewest goals this season.
The coach, however, showed good tactics to pick up the win by effectively utilizing his players available and changing to a more traditional 4-1-4-1 formation with defenders Carlos Mendes and Ayoze out.
Other notable absentees included Eugene Starikov and Amauri.
The Cosmos are now 2-0-1 in their last three games.
New York travels to first-place Jacksonville next Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Cosmos return to MCU Park on May 13 against Puerto Rico FC, a team owned by Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony.
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