Saturday’s Cosmos-Deltas match might as well have taken place in an octagon instead of a soccer pitch.
New York returned to league action after a week break with a cagey, physical and ill-tempered affair against San Francisco. Despite having the majority of the better chances, New York had to settle for a 0-0 draw in a contest that featured a combined seven yellow cards.
“When you have two teams that are good teams, and good teams that are really wanting to win, you’re going to see this type of match,” coach Giovanni Savarese said in his post-match press conference. “It was a battle [Saturday]. You’re going to see yellow cards because it was a very physical game.”
In a first half devoid of any real clear-cut chances, it would take until the 40th minute for a threatening opportunity. The Deltas had put the ball into the back of the net off a set piece, but Deltas forward Reiner Ferreira was ruled offside. The Cosmos did dominate possession throughout the first half – 58.9 percent to 41.1 percent – but lacked the final end product to make their dominance count. The Cosmos were held to just two shots in the first half and both didn’t register on goal.
“We dominated the game in the first half, but we needed to be a little more aggressive,” Cosmos midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma said.
New York nearly found an early breakthrough on two occasions in the second half. Ledesma – who scored the lone goal between the teams the last time they played on April 29 – was at the center of the Cosmos’ good play, crossing the ball for a Javi Marquez header that clipped the crossbar in the 50th minute and hitting the side-netting with a shot after a terrific pull back pass from Andres Flores a minute after.
The match became a war of attrition with challenges flying everywhere and yellow cards being dished out to both teams for excessive physical play. Ledesma would have to be substituted due to injury in the 77th minute after taking a kick from behind to the ankle.
“[The injury] hurts,” he said. “I’m a lucky man because I could have broken my ankle. I hope everything is OK, but these things happen in [soccer]. You’re trying to play the ball, but someone is trying to kill you.”
The hosts had one final chance to claim all three points, with substitute Irvin Herrera running in through on goal late in the final minutes, but only managed to get away a weak shot on goal which Deltas goalie Romuald Peiser easily claimed. San Francisco nearly stole the points late into stoppage time, but a dangerous shot from the Deltas’ Kenny Teijsse in the 97th minute sailed harmlessly over the bar and onto the Coney Island boardwalk.
While somewhat disappointed with the result, Savarese took heart from his team’s performance and is expecting the Cosmos to hit top form in their upcoming matches.
“Overall, I think [Saturday] was our best performance this year,” he said. “I was very content seeing the way we approached this match – the mentality, the rhythm, how we had the ball. I think we’re getting closer and closer to our true identity.”
The Cosmos had to call on reserve goalkeeper Brian Holt against the Deltas due to a hamstring injury suffered by starter Jimmy Maurer.
Holt, who was informed of being in the lineup before kickoff, was up for his chance to start.
“It’s one of those things at this position you always have to make sure your training properly and being ready at any moment,” he said. “I was called upon [Saturday] and tried to make the most of my opportunity, play my game and be secure at the back.”