Cosmos jump-start fall season with 3-1 win over Miami FC
Eric Calvillo Emerges as a Star, Named NASL Player of the Week
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pelé are arguably the best soccer players of all time, not only for their superb tactical skills, but also for their ability to change games.
They are considered the sport’s elite because they are difference makers. They have the capacity to take a match by the scruff of the neck and cement a result for their team by any means possible.
These types of players are rare, but the New York Cosmos may have found their own game changer in the form of 19-year-old midfielder Eric Calvillo.
The California native has tallied four goals and one assist in his last four games, including two goals in the Cosmos’ 3-1 win against Miami FC on Saturday in the team’s fall season opener.
The two-time defending North American Soccer League (NASL) champions put in an inspiring performance, recovering from an early red card to defeat the Spring Season champion in front of an announced attendance of 5,416 fans at MCU Park.
When asked about his recent run of form, Calvillo praised his teammates and coaches.
“It’s honestly hard work and dedication,” Calvillo said. “My teammates push me everyday. My coaches push me everyday. They give me all the trust and confidence that I need.
“I just come out every game hopefully to put [in] that effort [so] that they believe in me, that they trust in me and show everyone that I’m here for a reason and that I can hopefully have a great future in this game.”
Having played in only three games last season, it was not all too long ago that Calvillo’s role on the team was uncertain.
With the game winner against Edmonton in the Spring Season finale, Calvillo secured a third place finish for the Cosmos. Were they to have tied that game, the Cosmos would have finished in fourth, which would have significantly hurt their chances of making the playoffs.
Calvillo then scored a goal against legendary Spanish side Valencia in a preseason friendly.
He followed up that performance with a pair of goals on Saturday, including the game winner. More impressive, however, was the nature by which Calvillo scored his two goals.
The first brace of the game came in the 63rd minute after Ayoze sent a penalty off the crossbar. Calvillo showed maturity, determination and knowledge of the game to time his run perfectly to be the first to get to the rebound.
He locked his ankles, drove through the ball and scored on a vicious volley, leaving Miami FC goalkeeper Daniel Vega no chance.
“I turned around because I heard Coach Gio scream at me telling me to run in,” Calvillo said. “So I give credit all to him. It was just unfortunate that [the penalty] missed, but thank God it came to my spot and I just buried it.
“I knew I had to take my first chance, first time shot and it was great contact that it went in.”
The second goal for the Cosmos was a result of individual brilliance from Calvillo.
He dribbled the ball from the center circle, did a change of pace away from the defender and drilled home an inspiring left-footed shot to the far post from 23 yards out.
“I don’t know what to say,” Calvillo admitted. “I had [Richie] Ryan defending me. I tried to do a little something to get by him and hopefully get a nice hit, and it was my left foot. I’m more dominant with my right; I’m pretty good with my left.
“I can’t believe that it went in. It was a great goal.”
The two goals not only earned Calvillo Man of the Match honors, but he was also named NASL Player of the Week for his heroics.
After fouling Ryan Richter on the Cosmos’ penalty, Miami FC midfielder Kwadwo Poku made up for his error when he slotted home his team’s only goal in the 69th minute on Saturday.
In the return for Israeli midfielder Kobi Moyal, he picked up an assist on Calvillo’s second goal and scored in the 90th minute, just 16 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
After winning the ball off a giveaway, Moyal exploded past a defender and took a touch around Vega to slot home the third and final goal for New York.
The Cosmos will be on the road against the San Francisco Deltas on Saturday at 8 p.m. New York will then visit FC Edmonton on Aug. 11 at 9 p.m.
The team returns to MCU Park to face Indy Eleven on Saturday, Aug. 19. Each of those games will be broadcast on either MSG Networks or BeIn Sports.
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