A Familiar Matchup for the NASL Final

IMAGE, STEVE KINGSMAN/OTTAWA FURY FC

champ-logo-no-yearThe North American Soccer League‘s Championship final will be played on the West Coast for the first time in the Modern Era, with the two-time defending champion New York Cosmos set to face off with the first-year San Francisco Deltas at Kezar Stadium.

The match is scheduled to be played on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern  and will be carried live by beIN Sports and stream online via beIN Sports Connect.

The Cosmos clinched their third straight trip to the league’s final on the back of keeper Jimmy Maurer, who blanked Miami’s league-leading attackwith five saves and two pivotal penalty stops after 120 scoreless minutes.

San Francisco’s keeper Romuald Peiser had considerably less to do as his defense kept North Carolina from registering a single shot on goal in Sunday’s other semifinal matchup. Tyler Gibson‘s sensational long-range strike was all the Deltas needed to earn their spot in the final with a 1-0 result.

A pairing of the Cosmos and Deltas brings together two of the league’s best coaches. It will be the second time the longtime Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese and San Francisco’s Marc Dos Santos have met in the final. The 2015 final saw Savarese’s Cosmos knock off Dos Santos’ Ottawa Fury, 3-2, at Hofstra Stadium. Ottawa narrowly lost out on hosting rights for the final that year with a disappointing draw on the final day of an otherwise historic Fall Season. This time around Dos Santos will have home field advantage. Miami was the only team with a better home record than the Deltas (7-5-4) this season.

Savarese and Dos Santos have taken different paths, though both have cemented their reputations as two of the best coaches in North American lower-division soccer over the past few years. Sunday’s clash will be the third straight postseason final for both coaches. While Savarese stayed put with the Cosmos, winning a third NASL , Dos Santos was busy taking the Swope Park Rangers to the USL Cup final. Swope Park fell to New York Red Bulls II, but Dos Santos now has a shot at avenging those losses with his third team in as many years.

The Deltas and the current Cosmos have a few holdovers from the 2015 final. Dos Santos recruited two of his most important pieces in Ottawa, keeper Peiser and forward Tommy Heinemann, to join him in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Savarese salvaged the Cosmos from an off-season of financial uncertainty to hold on to a group of core players. Five of the players that appeared in New York’s victory over Ottawa in the final two years ago made it onto the field for the team’s semifinal win against Miami this past weekend.

There wasn’t much separating the Cosmos and the Deltas in the regular season. They split the regular season series with two draws and a win and a loss for each side. Their last meeting, on Sept. 20, ended 2-2 after a 10-man San Francisco rallied for two goals in the final 15 minutes at MCU Park.