Three Observations After the Cosmos’ 4-2 win vs. Puerto Rico FC:
1. Ledesma Makes an Impactful Return
What is it about the Cosmos playing Puerto Rico FC this season?
Their first match back on May 14 featured seven goals, two red cards and a stunning Cosmos comeback that led to their first home win.
While Friday’s match didn’t follow the exact same script, it certainly had similar elements – lots of goals, another red card and yet another inspiring comeback.
After being sidelined since May 27 with an ankle injury, Emmanuel Ledesma came off the bench to lead the Cosmos to a huge win, scoring the game-tying goal with an absolute left-footed piledriver of a volley in the 69th minute.
“When I saw the ball going into the corner, I said to myself, I can’t believe it,” Ledesma said.
He was the catalyst for Walter Restrepo‘s game-winning goal, playing the perfect reverse pivot pass to Irvin Hererra, who centered for a streaking Restrepo in the 74th minute.
The Cosmos have sorely missed Ledesma as an attacking threat since the Argentine midfielder was shelved because of the injury. Comfortable on the ball and creative, the 29-year-old gives the Cosmos’ attack a dimension other teams in NASL must fear.
“I thought he brought the right spirit into the match,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said in his post-match press conference. “He brought quality and scored a tremendous goal. His spirit lifted the whole team up. Ledesma was important.”
Ledesma says he still isn’t feeling at his best but was glad to be contributing on the pitch.
“I still feel a little bit hurt,” he said. “The ankle isn’t 100 percent, but the important thing is that the mind is 100 percent. The important thing is apart from the goal, is that we won.”
2. Cosmos Can’t Build on Early Goal
For the third consecutive match at MCU Park, the Cosmos scored the first goal of the match. For the third consecutive match, the home side found themselves behind despite taking the lead.
Ayoze’s venomous kick in the 13th minute gave New York the advantage early on, but Puerto Rico FC would strike back quickly.
Jairo Puerto leveled the scored in the 17th minute after outmuscling Ryan Richter to convert a Giuseppe Gentile cross past Jimmy Maurer. Seven minutes later, the away side took the lead off a lethal counter attack. An unmarked Conor Doyle turned home a cross from Puerto past Maurer.
While the Cosmos will happily take the three points, Savarese is hoping stability in the lineup will eventually remedy the defensive hiccups.
“We’re still maturing,” he said. “We’re still changing players game to game because of different situations – injuries, call up for national teams – and that affects the fluidity of the team.”
3. A Physical Game
Puerto Rico FC showed a penchant for dangerous counterattacking, but they also showed an uglier side.
The away side did their best to leave a mark on the Cosmos with physical challenges in the midfield and was more than happy to be heavy handed when the situation called for it. The visitors picked up five yellow cards and defender Rudy Dawson was ejected after appearing to deliver a forearm smash to the face of Ledesma.
“I thought [Puerto Rico] came here to battle us out,” Savarese said. “It was very clear. In the first 30 seconds [of the match] there were two tough tackles. Right away, we realized they came here to be aggressive, strong and make a point.”
After taking punishment in the first 45 minutes, Savarese was pleased to see his players start to dish out in the second stanza.
“Once we stepped it up physically and demanded more, I thought at that moment we took control of the game.”
- Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes was forced to leave the game with an apparent hamstring injury in the 29yj minute.
“It’s unfortunate that our captain had to come out of the match,” Savarese said. “Right now, hopefully, he can recover as soon as possible.”
- The Cosmos’ next match is Saturday, June 24 against Miami FC. Live coverage gets under way at 7:30 PM on MSG.