Three Observations After the Cosmos’ 1-1 Draw vs. Indy Eleven:
1. Depleted Cosmos Get a Deserved Point
Already ravaged by various injuries, the Cosmos‘ squad came into Tuesday’s night rematch of the 2016 NASL Championship without striker Irvin Herrera and midfielder Andres Flores, as the duo joined the El Salvadorian national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Despite having the lion’s share of possession, New York failed to find any fluency in the first half and was mostly limited to crosses towards the towering Vranjican and long-range shots from distance. The lack of cutting edge forced Savarese to adjust tactics.
“I think, in the first half, we were playing in a way that we thought we could utilize the spaces and be dangerous,” Savarese said during his post-match press conference. “But when we realized it wasn’t working, we changed to a 4-4-2 [formation] in the second half.”
Savarese altered the team’s formation – and the outcome of the game – with second-half substitution, bringing on Eugene Starikov for Walter Restrepo. It allowed Ledesma to move back to his favored left midfielder role, as Starikov provided much-needed energy and pace along the forward line.
Still, it would take until the 86th minute for the equalizer when Emmanuel Ledesma was fouled in the penalty box. The Argentine emphatically smashed his penalty past Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch into the bottom corner and the hosts would go on to salvage a point.
Savarese took solace from his team fighting back for the point, but refused to let missing personnel be used as a reason for the dropped points at home.
“The fact that we’re missing a lot of players, it cannot be an excuse,” he said. “Yes, it is a lot of players [missing] because of injuries and call-ups, but we have never been a club that looks at the guys that we don’t have. We have a roster with the players that were here [Tuesday] that can contribute and could have gotten a result. At least we were able to fight back and get a tie, but I think we could have been much better.”
2. Maurer to the Rescue
The Cosmos may not have been in a position to get a point without the efforts of Jimmy Maurer.
The 28-year-old goalkeeper played one of his strongest matches to date, aggressively snuffing out Indy Eleven’s counterattacks by coming way off his line to bail out his defense. He also made three big saves and earned Man of the Match honors.
“Jimmy was one of our better players,” Savarese said.” “I think he was crucial for us to be able to get the tie.”
3. A Costly Result?
The NASL season is broken up into sections: Spring Season and Fall Season. The winners of the two seasons, plus two other teams with the combined best records from both the Spring and Fall, end up vying for the NASL Championship.
Sitting nine points adrift from leaders Miami FC, the Cosmos are mathematically eliminated from winning the Spring Season with just two games left. But Tuesday’s result could also play a factor should they fail to win the Fall Season. As of Tuesday, New York is in fourth place behind Miami FC, the San Francisco Deltas and Jacksonville Armada in the standings.
– A unique quirk to the Cosmos’ league campaign so far – in the three matches they’ve trailed at halftime (June 10 vs. North Carolina, June 16 vs. Puerto Rico & Tuesday vs. Indy Eleven) the Cosmos are undefeated with a record of 1-0-2.
– It’s a unique situation for both the Cosmos and Indy Eleven, as they face off in rare back-to-back matches. New York heads to Indy Saturday in the green-and-whites penultimate game of the season. Live coverage gets under way at 7:30 PM on MSG.