Things were going so swimmingly for the Cosmos Wednesday night.
Coming off the heels of a 1-0 victory against North Carolina FC and two consecutive matches without conceding a goal, the hosts put on a clinic against FC Edmonton in the first half. Dominating play, New York took a deserved 1-0 lead against the worst team in the NASL just before the stroke of halftime, appearing well on their way to three points.
Unfortunately, the second half had to be played. In the second 45 minutes, everything unraveled.
With things seemingly under control, the Cosmos came apart in a 10-minute span in the second half, as they gave away the game by giving up two goals while having two players sent off in a disappointing 4-2 loss.
“We had the game in hand,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said in his post-match press conference. “We just needed another goal to close the game down and then we gave it away. I thought we started to lose attention and not everyone on the field was able to do what was needed.”
It was nearly unthinkable for anyone to think the Cosmos would drop points, let alone lose a match they clearly were in control of. Irvin Herrera capitalized on the Cosmos’ first-half dominance, tallying his first official goal as a Cosmos player. Herrera’s goal came off a sensational cross from Ryan Richter in the first minute of first-half stoppage time.
New York owned the stat charts with over 70-percent possession, holding FC Edmonton to just one shot on goal.
But things fell apart in the second half. FC Edmonton notched a controversial equalizing goal in the 69th minute off of a headed goal from Sainey Nyassi. The Cosmos believed that Nyassi had strayed offside, but referee Geoff Gamble allowed the goal to stand.
“Everybody saw from the first replay [on the scoreboard] that [Nyassi] was offsides,” Herrera said. “The ref made some pretty bad calls, but that’s the game.”
Reeling from the equalizer, New York was unable to rediscover its balance. Three minutes later, Tomi Ameobi headed Edmonton in front of a shellshocked Cosmos side.
It was at this point that discipline left the hosts. First, Cosmos defender Darrius Barnes was sent off in the 74th minute after kicking out against FC Edmonton defender Abdoulaye Diakite. Then, Javi Guerra was ejected by in the 79th minute for a headbutt aimed at Mauro Eustaquio.
“We lost our heads and that’s something we really have to work on,” Herrera said. “The big thing is that if we didn’t have those two red cards, we probably could have come back.”
With the numerical advantage, the “Eddies” pushed numbers forward and quickly put the game away. Forward Jake Keegan tapped home a low cross past Cosmos goalie Brian Holt in the 85th minute and Ameobi tallied his second of the night just four minutes later. Ayoze netted a consolation penalty goal in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late for the Cosmos.
- Without the injured Emmanuel Ledesma, Herrera has been given an opportunity by Savarese to stake his claim on a place in the starting lineup. In his third start of the season, the El Salvadorian international netted his first goal for the Cosmos and was a nuisance to the FC Edmonton defense.
- Herrera: “I was looking for my first goal since the beginning of the season,” he said. “I was being patient and working hard at practice. I had a couple chances before [the goal] and I didn’t get it in. I knew my chance was going to come.”
- The game could have turned upside down in the 37th minute when Cosmos winger Walter Restrepo was initially judged to have been fouled inside the penalty box. Gamble consulted with his assistant referees before changing the call to a free kick outside the penalty area.
- New York is back in action Saturday at MCU Park against North Carolina FC. Live coverage gets under way at 4 PM.