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Cosmos continue 7-game unbeaten streak, rise to second place

June 5, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thanks to a 52nd-minute goal from Juan Guerra (right), the Cosmos extended their unbeaten streak to seven games and moved into second place in their chase for first place and an automatic birth into the playoffs. Photos courtesy of North Carolina FC
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The New York Cosmos extended their terrific run of form on Sunday afternoon, defeating North Carolina FC 1-0 on the road.

The Cosmos, who are chasing Miami FC for first place and an automatic birth into the playoffs, maintained possession and dictated the pace of the game, earning an impressive and mature three points.

With the win, the Cosmos moved into second place as they shut out a North Carolina team that is second in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in goals scored and who had not been held scoreless all year.

“It was a good game for people to come and watch,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “I thought that most of the game, we had the ball. We were able to find space and created a lot of chances, so I feel that we deserved this victory.

“The guys were able to battle and get a very important win,” he added.

The Cosmos, who have not surrendered the first goal on the road all season, dominated the first half, creating several half-chances, but they were unable to find the back of the net.

After going into the break scoreless, the Cosmos entered the second half hungry as North Carolina Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre was forced to make three saves in two minutes.

New York finally broke through in the 52nd minute thanks to a wonderful strike from Juan Guerra.

After Sylvestre made a diving save on a shot by Andres Flores, Ayoze retrieved the rebound and floated the ball into the box.

Walter Restrepo collected it on the right side of the box and provided a soft cross to Guerra, who cushioned the ball off his chest and hit a side-footed volley into the lower left corner past a diving Sylvestre.

Guerra showed excellent composure to tuck the ball home for his second goal of the season.

The Cosmos have exhibited a rare dominance against a North Carolina organization — formerly known as the Carolina Railhawks, now under the moniker of North Carolina FC — winning six of their last six games against them.

The Cosmos entered the game averaging roughly three shots on target per match, an area of concern, but the team recorded six shots on goal on Sunday.

New York has dominated on the road this season. The team is now on a nine-game-away-unbeaten run and they lead NASL with five shutouts in nine games.

Going into the match, Sylvestre was first in NASL with 40 saves, a statistic most teams would prefer not to lead. Sylvestre was forced to make eight stops on Sunday, pushing his league-leading total to 45 saves. Jimmy Maurer is in second with 27.

Brian Holt, in for starting goalkeeper Maurer, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury, did not make his first stop of the game until the 62nd minute.

New York, commonly known as the “Cardiac Cosmos” for their gut-wrenching performances and tendency to grind out games, won the match thanks to Guerra’s individual brilliance and the team’s sturdy defense, which was led by captain Carlos Mendes and Dejan Jakovic.

The Cosmos out-possessed North Carolina 53 to 47 percent and outshot them 6 to 1.

New York, which has three games in seven days, will look to maximize points. The team’s biggest worry may be an upcoming string of international friendlies that could pluck as many as five players away from the team.

Injuries are also a concern for Savarese, as Javi Marquez was forced to leave the game in the 28th minute. Emmanuel Ledesma, who earned Man of the Match honors last week, was also out.

If the team can win its next three home matches, then it has a good chance of being crowned Spring Champions.

The winners of the spring and fall campaigns get automatic qualification into the four-team playoffs. The next two teams with the best records over the course of the two seasons get the final two spots.

The Cosmos will return to MCU Park on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., as they host last-place FC Edmonton.

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