Cosmos battle to win 4-2 against Puerto Rico FC
When the New York Cosmos and Puerto Rico FC meet at MCU Park, there always seems to be an endless supply of drama and goals.
After a seven-goal thriller earlier in the season, the two teams battled Friday night with the Cosmos triumphing 4-2.
With the win, the Cosmos extended their unbeaten streak against Puerto Rico FC to five games.
“They were very physical. The first half, it looked like they wanted the game a little bit more,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese, who earned his 60th career win on Father’s Day weekend.
“The second half, we changed. We battled. We were able to confront them physically and I think that was an important step for us to be able to get the result we did.”
Similar to their last meeting, Puerto Rico FC went ahead early on in the match, but the Cosmos displayed a mature and gutsy performance to come from behind and earn a crucial three points in their quest to be crowned Spring Season champions.
New York got on the scoreboard first with a 13th-minute brace from Ayoze, who hit a free kick over the wall and into the back of the net, leaving Puerto Rico FC goalkeeper Austin Pack flat-footed.
Jairo Puerto would even the score for the visitors in the 17th minute with his third goal in three games.
Just seven minutes later, an unmarked Conor Doyle would put Puerto Rico FC ahead 2-1.
Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes, who has missed several games this season due to injury, was substituted in the 29th minute.
Fans at MCU Park would have to wait until the 69th minute for the next score, but it was one to remember.
After Andres Flores hit an out-swinging corner kick across the box, Emmanuel Ledesma struck the ball on a bounce for a screamer. Similar to the first goal, Pack could only watch as the ball went into the back of his net.
In the 74th minute, Irvin Herrera drove down the left side of the field, picked up his head and squared a ball for Walter Restrepo, who tapped in the eventual game winner.
Similar to the teams’ first meeting, a red card was shown to a Puerto Rico FC player when Rudy Dawson was sent off in the 81st minute for a reckless challenge on Ledesma.
The Cosmos received production from four different players, including their newest signee Pablo Vranjican.
Prior to the match, Savarese lauded Vranjican for his scoring mentality.
“He’s a true striker, which we didn’t have that many true strikers,” said Savarese. “He’s going to bring some experience. Everywhere he’s been, he’s scored goals. He adds something more to our team as well.”
And scoring a goal is exactly what the 31-year-old Argentine did after he was brought on as a substitute in the 88th minute. After a tussle with a Puerto Rico FC defender, Vranjican turned in the box and hit a right-footed shot to the far post for his first goal in a Cosmos uniform.
Ledesma, who earned man of the match honors for his wonder strike, spoke about the team’s inspired second-half performance.
“It’s Gio’s pick with the players,” Ledesma said. “He talked about character and confidence and that’s what we did. In the second half, we were a completely different team, different character and that’s what we showed by winning.”
Offensively, the team has seen a lot of recent production from Irvin Herrera. He scored twice in the previous two games and he chipped in with an assist on Friday
“[Herrera is] doing much better,” said Savarese. “He’s getting more comfortable. He’s scoring goals now … He’s showing more his talent, that he is getting confident. If he continues to grow this way, it will be very important for us.”
Following results from the weekend, New York moved up to second place in the North American Soccer League standings, but the team is listed third on goal differential. They are seven points behind Miami FC
The Cosmos will look to gain ground on Miami FC on Saturday in South Florida. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and the match will be broadcast on MSG Networks and BeIN Sports.