Late equalizer gives Cardiac Cosmos a point in 6-goal thriller
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on South Florida, the “Cardiac Cosmos” came from behind twice on Wednesday night to tie first-place Miami FC 3-3.
Despite going down in the 90th minute, New York was able to weather the storm thanks to a wonder strike from Javi Marquez in stoppage time.
The Cardiac Cosmos — a nickname given to the team for their gut-wrenching performances and tendency to grind out games — have scored eight goals in the final 15 minutes this season.
Whether that is considered a positive is up for debate, but it is a testament to the fight and character that head coach Giovanni Savarese has instilled in his team.
Entering the match with a five-game winless streak, Savarese was forced to make numerous changes.
Tactically, he implemented an unconventional three-defender backline.
Personnel-wise, the Venezuelan gaffer inserted third-string goalkeeper Kyle Zoebeck into the starting lineup, his first appearance of the season. In addition, Eugene Starikov was scratched at the last minute in favor of recently promoted Cosmos B team forward Bledi Bardic.
Savarese’s gamble would pay dividends, as both Bardic and Zoebeck were instrumental in New York securing a point: Bardic scored a goal, and Zoebeck made several big saves to keep the Cosmos in the game.
Bardic’s brace came in the 10th minute. After Jimmy Mulligan provided a 30-yard cross into the box, Dejan Jakovic headed the ball down to Bardic, who tapped in his first goal of the season to put the Cosmos on the board first.
The Montenegrin forward’s day, however, would come to an abrupt end as he was forced to leave the pitch in the 27th minute with an injury.
Miami’s Jaime Chavez tied the game just before half time on a free kick, the third consecutive goal conceded by the Cosmos on a set piece.
In the 63rd minute, Marquez attempted to clear the ball in the Cosmos’ box, but he missed entirely. The ball fortuitously fell to the feet of Chavez, who placed the ball into the back of the net.
In the 81st minute, Pablo Vranjican redirected a laser cross from Marquez that flew under the crossbar and into the goal.
It looked as though the game was headed for a draw until Chavez scored a goal to the far post in the 90th minute, securing himself a hat trick and ruining the Cosmos’ comeback.
Or so it seemed.
The referee granted four minutes of stoppage time, and that was all the Cosmos needed to showcase their final trick.
In the 92nd minute, Marquez received the ball at the top of Miami’s box. The hosts overcompensated, expecting Marquez to use his dominant left foot, but he instead switched the ball to his weaker right foot and sent a curling shot into the far side netting to tie the game 3-3.
With Riccardo Silva Stadium resembling a ghost town due to a mandatory evacuation in some parts of Miami-Dade County, very few fans were on hand to enjoy such a riveting match.
Several other games across the league, including the Cosmos’ match against Puerto Rico FC on Saturday, were postponed due to the impending storm. Jacksonville’s game versus Indy on Saturday was suspended, and San Francisco’s match this weekend against Miami was also shelved.
The draw ended Miami’s five-game winning streak.
The Cosmos remained in fourth place in the North American Soccer League Combined Standings, two points above North Carolina FC for the last playoff spot.
New York will now have 11 days to prepare for their next game against Jacksonville at MCU Park. That match is slated for Sunday, Sept. 17 at 5 p.m.
Extra Time: Miami has only conceded 10 goals in the Fall Season, but six of them have been scored by the Cosmos.