Cosmos earn first home win of season at MCU Park
For a Mother’s Day matinee, the Cosmos displayed a spirited and gutsy performance to come back from two goals down to earn their first home win of the season against Puerto Rico FC 4-3.
It was a day of firsts for New York as four different players scored their first goals of the year, including Andres Flores, Juan Guerra, Ryan Richter and Walter Restrepo.
But it was Emmanuel Ledesma who earned Man of the Match honors for assisting on two goals.
“We played a hard match,” Ledesma said. “We know today is a tough game and we fought to the last second. We get the three points. We win at home and we are so happy for this. It’s really, really important because we are close to the top of the league so we keep working hard.”
He added, “It’s really important for today, to do this on Mother’s Day. It’s a very important day in America. This victory is for all the mothers of the players and also for my mother and for my wife.”
The game, which was originally slated for Saturday, was moved to Sunday due to inclement weather.
Puerto Rico FC dominated the first quarter of the game due to two early goals in the 15th and 16th minutes, but a red card issued in the 36th minute to Puerto Rico FC midfielder Yuma changed the momentum of the match.
The visitors were forced to play the majority of the game with 10 men after the Spanish defender was sent off for smacking Guerra in the back of the head.
The Cosmos’ first breakthrough came in the 42nd minute courtesy of Flores.
Javi Márquez played a through ball behind a defender for Ledesma to run onto. As Ledesma picked up his head, Flores made a darting run into the six-yard box and pointed to where he wanted the ball. Ledesma delivered a ball on a platter for an easy tap-in for Flores.
Five minutes later, the Cosmos played a short corner to Ledesma, who lofted a left-footed ball into the box. As Puerto Rico FC goalie Trevor Spangenberg came out, Guerra headed the ball home to send the teams into the locker room tied.
The Cosmos continued where they left off to start the second half.
In the 50th minute, Ledesma crossed the ball off a corner and Dejan Jakovic brilliantly flicked the first ball onto Richter, who delicately placed the ball into the back of the net with his head.
In the span of nine minutes, the Cosmos had turned a two-goal deficit into a one-goal advantage.
The Cosmos’ final goal and eventual game winner came in the 58th minute courtesy of a Puerto Rico FC giveaway.
Restrepo collected a stray ball at the center circle, brought the ball down the field and tucked home his first of the year to the near post.
The Cosmos conceded a penalty in the 64th minute that Cristiano Dias converted, but New York was able to hold on until the final whistle to leave MCU Park with three points.
“We are very happy because we won today’s match, got three points and are now in second place in the standings,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese. “Today, we showed great character as a team and we will continue working hard to grow and develop as the season progresses.”
With the win, the Cosmos are now unbeaten in their last five games. New York moved to second in the North American Soccer League (NASL) standings, but the team is listed third on goal differential.
Puerto Rico FC — a team owned by Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony — remained at the bottom of the table with only three points to show after seven matches.
Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer made two saves in his 100th Cosmos appearance, and captain Carlos Mendes was slotted back in the starting lineup after missing several games with a groin injury.
New York will travel to Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania to face Reading United AC in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The U.S. Open Cup is a competition similar to England’s FA Cup, where teams from all tiers of American soccer go head-to-head. The tournament provides an opportunity for lower-tier squads and semi-professional clubs to play against Major League Soccer (MLS) sides.
Last year, the Cosmos beat MLS’s New York City FC 1-0 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.
New York will return to MCU Park for NASL play on Saturday, May 27 when they host the San Francisco Deltas.
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