Calvillo Propels Cosmos in Fall Season Opener

NYC v Miami1055

By JAKE NUTTING

Cosmos logoBROOKLYN — The New York Cosmos kicked off their Fall Season with an emphatic statement win over Miami FC on Saturday night at MCU Park. Largely on the back of a two-goal shift from the teenager Eric Calvillo, the Cosmos toppled the NASL’s Spring Season champions, 3-1.

“Tonight is huge,” Calvillo said. “Our home record hasn’t been great. To start the Fall Season and to get three points is great, especially with a great team like Miami. Playing against Miami gives us a boost. We  want to go out and show them that at the end of the season, we’re gonna be close to them or above them in the postseason.”

New York’s night got off to an inauspicious start when the club’s leading scorer Emmanuel Ledesma saw a straight red card 19 minutes into the match. The Argentine stuck his leg up in the air in hopes of getting a touch in a long ball played to the edge of Miami’s box, but he ended up connecting with defender Hunter Freeman‘s chest instead. Referee Ramy Touchan promptly sent Ledesma off for an early shower.

Miami (0-1-0, 0 points Fall; 11-3-3, 36 Combined) could only hold the man-advantage for five minutes, though. By coincidence, it was Freeman, a former Cosmos player, was who got the boot from Touchan after throwing his legs into a challenge on Eugene Starikov near the sideline.

Once the dust settled from the back-to-back ejections, the Cosmos (1-0-0, 3 Fall; 7-6-4, 27 Combined) got into the match an earned the best chance of the half at the half hour mark. Starikov rose to meet a long range free kick into Miami’s box, driving the delivery down and straight into the right post.

“I think the most important thing is that we showed the maturity that we were talking about at the beginning of the season,” Cosmos Coach Gio Savarese said. “We showed maturity after losing an important player like Ledesma. Starikov had to play back a little more to help us stay compact. We just needed to show a little more intensity and we needed to keep the ball more. The guys understood what to do and they performed in a great way against a very, very good team.”

Touchan’s whistle played a factor again to help the Cosmos get on the scoreboard 20 minutes into the second half. Kwadwo Poku gave the Cosmos a chance from the penalty spot by clipping Ryan Richter as he charged into the box. The veteran Ayoze’s uncharacteristically rattled his penalty attempt off the crossbar, but it rebounded off the legs of goalkeeper Daniel Vega and into the path of the surging Calvillo, who cleaned up with a powerful effort.

Four minutes later, Poku redeemed himself at the other end of the field. As the Cosmos back line fell asleep, Ariel Martínez raced down the right edge and picked out an unmarked Poku for a one-touch finish past Jimmy Maurer.

In danger of letting Miami escape with a point, the Cosmos found an answer through a tremendous individual effort from Calvillo in the 79th minute. The midfielder created a window of space with a quick touch 20 yards out and rifled a shot straight into the bottom left corner.

The newcomer Kobi Moyal came off the bench to clinch the match just before stoppage time. The Israeli sparked a one-man counter attack, stripping a defender of the ball before sprinting into the final third and slipping a shot past Vega.

The Cosmos hit the West Coast next week to face the San Francisco Deltas. While the Deltas are an expansion team, Coach Marc Dos Santos led the team to a solid second-place finish in the Spring Season. Miami faces visiting FC Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, with the winner to face the New York Red Bulls in the semifinals.