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Cosmos fall to Deltas 2-0 in NASL Championship

November 13, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York Cosmos were defeated 2-0 in the North American Soccer League Championship game on Sunday in front of 9,691 fans at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Photos courtesy of San Francisco Deltas
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The New York Cosmos overcame many obstacles this season, but Sunday’s North American Soccer League (NASL) Championship game was not one of them.

Playing on a battered field, the boys in green and white fell 2-0 to the Deltas in front of 9,691 fans at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

“I’m very proud of our guys and the effort they put into this match,” Cosmos head coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese said. “It was a difficult field to play on, and we couldn’t find the goal tonight.”

New York is known for its aesthetically pleasing style of soccer under Savarese. On a wet pitch, however, it was difficult for the Cosmos to play their game.

The field conditions favored the Deltas, who prefer to play more direct, sending long balls over the top to their forward Tommy Heinemann.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Cosmos’ season, let alone existence, was in jeopardy.

With no stadium to play in, no jersey sponsor and no tickets sold, Pele’s former team looked destined for an early grave.

But Rocco Commisso, CEO of Mediacom, saved the struggling franchise.

With little time for preparation, the off-season insecurity left Savarese scrambling at the last minute. He was tasked with preparing his players — many of them new — on short notice, while also trying to instill his system of play. On top of that, his team needed time to gel and build chemistry.

Given those circumstances, New York did admirably this campaign, making the playoffs, defeating the number one seeded Miami FC in the semifinals and advancing to the team’s third straight NASL Championship game.

It was a scrappy match with five yellow cards issued and numerous altercations between the two teams.

In the 18th minute, an attempted clearance fortuitously fell to the feet of San Francisco’s Jackson in New York’s penalty area. Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer was forced to come off his line and inadvertently took out Jackson.

The referee deemed the tackle a foul, and the Deltas were awarded a penalty.

Stepping up to the spot, Heinemann coolly slotted the ball up the middle past a diving Maurer.

With the Deltas milking the clock for the rest of the game and with frequent stoppages in play, the game lacked rhythm.

In the 88th minute, Savarese substituted off Emmanuel Ledesma for Pablo Vranjican. It was a questionable decision, given that Ledesma was one of the more dangerous players on the pitch.

The Argentinian was visibly frustrated by the decision as he reluctantly left the field.

Despite San Francisco goalkeeper Romuald Peiser battling an injury for the majority of the match, the Cosmos did not test him often and only managed four shots on target.

Pushing for a late goal, the Cosmos were caught on the counter in stoppage time. Substitute Devon Sandoval evaded Maurer and easily tapped the ball into the open net to secure the win for the hosts.  

“We want to congratulate the Deltas on their win,” Savarese said. “They are a great team and played well tonight.”

The Cosmos and Deltas were, perhaps, the two most improbable title-challengers this season given New York’s turbulent preseason and San Francisco being an expansion franchise.

Although Carlos Mendes’ final game as a professional ended in defeat, the 36-year-old captain and stalwart defender ended his career with three NASL Championships.  


An Uncertain Future

Brooklynites will be hoping that the Cosmos and NASL will be around next year. The league is in jeopardy after the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) stripped the group of its Division II status.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently called on USSF to reconsider its decision, arguing that soccer in America and Brooklyn’s economy will suffer by the Cosmos dropping to Division III.

“From the profitable sponsorship deals to the steady job creation that the New York Cosmos have brought to Coney Island and Brooklyn at large, it’s clear that a division two status is a win-win for the region,” Schumer said.

“I’m urging the U.S. Soccer Federation to reconsider its decision and support a Division II status for the North American Soccer League so that teams like the New York Cosmos can continue to thrive,” he said.  

A Division III status would hurt the Cosmos, as it would lead to a decline in sponsorships and television broadcast partners, loss of ceding position in the U.S. Open Cup and a more difficult time attracting quality players.


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