Coney Island

Cosmos salvage point in 4-goal thriller

New York drops to 4th place

June 12, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York Cosmos grinded out a 2-2 tie against North Carolina FC on Saturday afternoon in Coney Island. With the draw, the team dropped to fourth place. Photos courtesy of the New York Cosmos
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New York Cosmos side missing several key players due to suspension, injury and international duty grinded out a gripping 2-2 tie against North Carolina FC (NCFC) on Saturday afternoon in Coney Island. 

It took a moment of individual brilliance from Kalif Alhassan in the 84th minute for the “Cardiac Cosmos” to escape with a draw, extending the team’s unbeaten run to eight games against NCFC.   

After Cosmos midfielder Andres Flores drew a cluster of defenders at the top of the box with several short touches, he found Alhassan, who curled a right-footed shot to the far post under the crossbar for a late equalizer.

“I got the ball. I already knew what I was going to do,” Alhassan told the Brooklyn Eagle. “The guys already knew it was going in and I wasn’t surprised it went in because I’ve done it tons of times in training.”

“We know Alhassan can bring some magic into the game,” added Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “He’s that player that has flair, that creativity. He came into the match to try and bring that into it and he found a fantastic goal, a beautiful goal.” 

With the team missing three defenders, including David Ochieng and Dejan Jakovic for international duty and Darrius Barnes to suspension, Savarese was forced to insert Javi Marquez into backline.

Fatigue also played a factor in the Cosmos’ third game in seven days. 

Despite several key absences, Savarese managed his bench brilliantly, and it was only fitting that a reserve player tied the game.

After Alhassan came on as a sub in the 60th minute, Savarese moved him from the right wing to striker to put him in a more attacking role.

The positional switch would pay dividends as Alhassan scored the game-tying goal moments later.

Irvin Herrera scored his second goal in two games putting the Cosmos on the board in the seventh minute. After initially missing the ball, he showed good composure not to panic in front of goal, hitting his second attempt under the goalkeeper’s legs.

Eugene Starikov, making his first start for the Cosmos, looked dangerous, creating several good chances, including an assist on an apparent goal that was incorrectly ruled offside.

“Referees can make mistakes,” said Savarese. “That was a goal, but it happens in the games. It’s part of the game. I thought we did a lot of good things. Today, especially in the first half we created good chances. We had chances in the second half. 

“But today towards the second half we just became too tired, we started giving too much space. We became too open. On their counters, they were dangerous. Nevertheless, we had tons of opportunities to be able to also win the game.” 

Irvin Herrera and Andres Flores were both called up for international duty with El Salvador, but they played for the Cosmos on Saturday, likely due to the fact that El Salvador plays at Red Bull Arena in N.J. on Tuesday.

A pair of world-class goals from North Carolina’s Billy Schuler and Lance Laing in the 11th and 45th minutes respectively solidified the tie for the visitors.

Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer was inserted back into the starting lineup after a three-game absence with a hamstring injury, and he did brilliantly to bail the team out on several occasions.

Savarese’s team, who came into their three-game homestand looking to maximize points, showed mental strength and character to claw back a point after going down early.

Brian Sylvestre, who leads the North American Soccer League in saves, was tested often as the Cosmos knocked on his doorstep all match.

Sylvestre was forced to make five stops, pushing his league-leading total to 50 saves. Maurer is in second with 32.

Despite a pair of disappointing results that dropped the Cosmos to fourth place, Savarese was pleased with his team’s style of play.   

“We have to look at the three games and the way we played, not in the results,” he said. “In these three games we were the dominant team. We were the team that had the ball. We were the team that was able to do many good things on the field.

“We had a solid match against North Carolina the last weekend. We played a great 69 minutes against Edmonton and then we lost composure … I have to look at the positives and the fact that we are playing good soccer. We’re playing like the kind of Cosmos we want to be.” 

The Cosmos will conclude their three-game homestand against Carmelo Anthony’s Puerto Rico FC on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

 


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