After a deluge of rain in the Tri-State area forced a postponement of their Saturday evening match, the New York Cosmos took on Puerto Rico FC in a Mother’s Day matinee on what began as a sun-splashed day at MCU Park.
The weekend mirrored the Cosmos’ play vs. Puerto Rico FC. A rough start was overcome emphatically, with New York rallying from a two-goal deficit in the first half and holding on for a wild 4-3 victory Sunday.
While the day was picturesque, the Cosmos’ start was not. Whether it was due to the early start, or the fact that the game was rescheduled, the hosts had trouble getting out of the blocks.
Just like their owner Carmelo Anthony has done in so many NBA games, Puerto Rico FC struck quickly and with devastating effect in the first half. Giuseppe Gentile slammed home the game-opening goal in the 15th minute past Cosmos goalie Jimmy Maurer after a terrific cross from Emery Welshman. It didn’t take long for the visitors to pad their lead, with Welshman converting in the box just a minute after.
“When [Puerto Rico] scored the first goal, we got disorganized,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We couldn’t find space and that’s why we struggled through the first part of the first half.”
The match took a turn in the Cosmos’ favor in the 36th minute when Puerto Rico FC midfielder Yuma was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Juan Guerra. It was the impetus New York desperately needed.
In the 42nd minute, the Cosmos exploited their numerical advantage, as Andres Flores tapped in Emmanuel Ledesma‘s low cross to pull New York within one.
Ledesma would add another assist just before the stroke of halftime after setting up Guerra for the equalizer with a beautiful lofted cross that Guerra dispatched past a helpless Trevor Spangenberg.
“[After the red card], we started to find spaces we were not finding before,” Savarese said. “We started moving the ball better and we started to gain confidence.”
The Cosmos continued to push the initiative in the second half and took a deserving lead in the 50th minute. Off a corner kick, Ryan Richter deposited goal number three with timely near-post run and a good headed finish.
Walter Restrepo added another for the Cosmos in the 58th minute after a turnover in midfield and being put clean through one-on-one with Spangenberg and finishing past the Puerto Rico goalkeeper with a venomous right-footed strike.
But Puerto Rico wouldn’t go away quietly. They pulled within a goal after Cristiano Dias converted a penalty kick in the 68th minute. The away side could have easily gotten level were it not for a fabulous save from Maurer. Maurer was able to get a hand to Hector Diaz’s thunderous free kick in the 80th minute, which would mark the final time the visiting side would threaten.
Richter credited the Cosmos’ revival to their commitment to a suffocating style of play.
“After the two goals, we started to press them higher,” he said. “We started to be more direct with our passes and we didn’t let them out of their half. When they got the red card, they couldn’t breathe after that until four goals were already in. That’s the style we want to play and that’s the style we’re capable of.”
The Cosmos next NASL match is May 27 at 7 PM on MSG Network against the San Francisco Deltas.