*Preface- I received a lot of help from my good friend John Popovic in writing this article. I must give him credit as my soccer analyst.*
UNIONDALE, NY- The New York Cosmos played a game that was a tale of two halves.
Weather in Uniondale was 71 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10% chance of precipitation and 46% humidity. In other words- today was great weather for a soccer match. Humidity had gone down to 36% with 10 minutes to go before kickoff.
The Cosmos are coming into the game with a record of 4-1-3 and are in first place in their division. The Rowdies come in with a record of 3-0-5 and trail by one point. This game will be extremely important to the final standings since this is the last meeting between the two teams.
Sebastian Guenzatti will not be participating in the game today as he picked up two yellow cards, the latter of which took place in the 90th minute. He’s scored one goal this season and played in every game he was eligible to do so in, starting in 5 of them. He’s notched 468 total minutes for the season to this point.
Tampa Bay’s goal differential is much better than New York’s, at +6 vs. +2, so we’ll see if the high powered offense that the Rowdies throw at New York will be enough to come out on top.
The Rowdies began the game very aggressively, attacking the ball at every opportunity. They forced a lot of turnovers which then made the Cosmos begin to play very direct, as did the Rowdies. This caused the pace of play to be extremely fast until the Rowdies scored in the 20th minute. The goal was scored by Luke Mulholland. Lucky Mkosana played the ball back to Mulholland for a great goal to open the scoring. Peri Marosevic answered back 3 minutes later with a strong effort to get the ball into the net. This would be the end of the scoring for the Cosmos for this half, however, as Georgi Hristov makes the score 2-1 in favor of Tampa Bay in the 31'. The goal was assisted by number 20 Evans Frimpog. Frimpog made a beautiful thru-ball pass to hit Hristov for the goal. Lucky Mkosana scored a goal in added time to cap the scoring at 3-1 at the end of the first.
However, not all hope was lost. As other members of the press sitting near me were saying "they'll win the next one", John and I had not yet given up hope. The Cosmos came out of the locker room with a lot of intensity and you could see that they were hungry to win this game still. They had a lot of good chances for a long while in this one, but no scoring to show for it until Paulo Mendes scored 63' in. He passed to Diomar Diaz, who then returned the favor and Mendes put the ball in the back of the net. After the goal the Cosmos are still keeping up the pressure but Tampa Bay has picked up the pace as well. Mendes has another good chance but the play was broken up by goaltender Restrepo. 67’. There was a big collision between Jordan Gafa and Marcos Senna at 69’. Senna was able to get up and walk away but Gafa stayed down while the trainer treated the injury on the sideline. There was a good chance for Mendes but once again the ball sails high. Finally, the Cosmos were able to tie up the game with a great breakaway goal that went upper 90. Diaz would receive a yellow card for removing his jersey in celebration. Only 2 minutes later did Marco Senna score what would be the game winning goal on a free kick in the 82'. The Rowdies didn't show any poise towards the end as they received several yellow cards. There were four added minutes but Tampa Bay wasn't able to do anything with them as the Cosmos took the game 4-3. This was the first loss for Tampa Bay this season.
Both teams really needed this game as the Cosmos were only leading the Rowdies by 1 in the standings before the game, so this puts some space between the two. The Cosmos were getting run over in the first half but good coaching was able to turn it all around.
The Cosmos' next game is on October 5th against Minnesota United in Minnesota. You can catch the game on SNY. How surprised are you by the Cosmos' success this year? Let me know in the comments section below.