Cosmos clinch Soccer Bowl berth with 2-1 victory over Scorpions

Sebastian Guenzatti Cosmos goal Minnesota United

SAN ANTONIO, Texas | For the first time since 1982, the New York Cosmos will be playing for the NASL Soccer Bowl Championship thanks to a 2-1 victory over the San Antonio Scorpions.

Unlikely hero Stefan Dimitrov put in the game winning goal with a well placed curler, beating former New York Red Bull keeper Jeremy Vuolo far post. His score capped off a two-goal comeback and carries New York into Atlanta to face the Silverbacks for the 2013 Championship.

In classic “Cardiac Cosmos” style, an anxious New York side, eager to put in a victorious road performance, slipped in the third minute as their defense collapsed allowing striker Tomasz Zahorski in on net and past keeper Kyle Reynish. Later in the match, team leader Marcos Senna fell with injury, making way for midfielder Dane Murphy to make his first appearance of the season. He too would make an early exit after a dubious red card was issued on a physical tackle at midfield.

Referee Juan Guzman did not make matters any easier on the Cosmos, issuing not only the red but four yellow cards on the team and ejecting coach Savarese for dissension as he argued the Murphy ejection in the 74th minute.

Despite their many setbacks, the Cosmos managed the game – and their destiny – en route to the win.

“All the guys knew that we needed three points to go to the Soccer Bowl and it’s not easy to do when you’re a goal down, but we came back after halftime ready to do the job,” Cosmos assistant coach Carlos Llamosa said. “In the second half we tried to be more aggressive and fortunately for us we were able to capitalize.”

Even after New York conceded early, the usually fluid Cosmos attack looked rigid as Savarese shoe-wedged Joseph Nane into an already-defensive midfield scheme along side Marcos Senna and Danny Szetela.

With the insertion of Sebastian Guenzatti for Nane in the second half, the team’s offense once again opened up, and it wouldn’t be long for the Cosmos to score. Marcos Senna opened up the marker with a brilliant shot to beat Vuolo in the 52nd minute.

Two minutes later, a heated Diomar Diaz broke the Railhawks line and dished the ball at the top of the box to long-time Cosmos forward Dimitov. The Bulgarian striker calmly timed his shot, nailing a curler past Vuolo for the game winning goal.

Senna, Savarese and Murphy would all be forced out of the match, but the team held on in the waning minutes to beat San Antonio on the road and clinch their Championship berth. For the Cosmos, this will be their seventh Soccer Bowl appearance. The club has won four Soccer Bowl trophies; their last against the Seattle Sounders in 1982.

The Atlanta Silverbacks won the Spring Championship, giving them the home field advantage for their November 9th showdown.

The Soccer Bowl will be televised on live on ESPN3 And ESPN Deportes.