Back-to-Back Champs: Cosmos beat Indy, take home NASL title

cosmos champs

by JAKE NUTTING

It was only fitting that an NASL final between the New York Cosmos and Indy Eleven would end in penalties.

While every regular season meeting between the two sides this year ended with a winner, all six encounters prior to that finished in stalemates.

Scoreless after 120 minutes of play, the Cosmos were the ones to prevail, going four of four in penalties to take their third Soccer Bowl in four years.

The message was clear from the outset on Sunday night at Belson Stadium — Indy came to play — and neither team was going to give an inch in the high stakes match.

Indy earned the first challenge on net of the night in the 11th minute when Don Smart slipped a pass into the penalty area for the target man Eamon Zayed. Cosmos defenders howled for a handball, but no whistle came and Zayed rifled a left-footed shot on target that Jimmy Maurer had to knock away.

Smart looked to bury the ball into the net himself four minutes later, connecting with a lofted cross to the right edge of the box with a powerful volley that rattled off the post to give the Cosmos a wake up call.
New York found a window of space to produce their first chance of the match in the 18th minute. With a defender closing in, Juan Arango looked up and played a ball into space for Andres Flores. The winger stretched out to get to the service first but ended up sending his effort over the crossbar.

Arango tried to grab the go-ahead goal a few moments later with an individual effort. The Golden Ball winner saw an opening on the endline for a chip shot but veteran Jon Busch read his intentions and swooped in to bat the shot out of danger.

Shortly after, an errant deflection off an attempted clearance gave Jairo Arrieta one of his only opportunities after being neutralized by Indy’s center backs. His half volley sailed yards wide of the left post and the two teams headed to halftime scoreless.

The hardnosed battle continued in the opening minutes of the second half, with neither side finding a way to break through.

Indy eventually knocked on the door in the 70th minute with the first threat. Smart played a give-and-go with Gerardo Torrado at the top of the box and blasted a left-footed strike over the shoulder of Maurer but directly into the crossbar.

After probing Indy’s goal with a couple of harmless long-range shots at Busch, the Cosmos came up with a promising look inside the box five minutes after Smart’s attempt. Arango beat out Colin Falvey for a header in front of net only to see the ball bounce a few feet wide of the post. David Diosa had a golden chance to take a lead for the Cosmos less than five minutes after entering the match for Yohandry Orozco in the 77th minute. Busch allowed a cross from Ryan Richter to slip through his fingers and fall to the feet of Diosa, who could only send his open-net shot left of the post again.

The Cosmos earned a flurry of chances in the dying moments but either pushed them wide left or right into the paws of Busch.

Thirty minutes of extra time proved fruitless as well as neither side were able to test the keepers.

Their test came soon with penalties.

Nicki Paterson was the first to step to the spot for Indy and calmly converted to the bottom left corner.

Arrieta then came through with a cool strike into the back of the net.

The first chip in Indy’s wall came next as leading scorer Zayed saw his effort scuff both posts to stay out of the net.

Adam Moffat’s penalty down the middle was true to put the Cosmos ahead.

Busch took it upon himself to take the third. The seasoned keeper got under his shot and sent it out of the building and into city traffic.

Ayoze made no mistake with an emphatic strike as Busch guessed wrong to keep the Cosmos in the lead.

Adam Vukovic powered his penalty into the top right corner to keep Indy’s hope alive, but Ryan Richter put the match to bed with a shot that nestled into the left-side netting, giving the Cosmos their third Soccer Bowl trophy in four years.