Cosmos Collapse in Mind-Boggling 12th Draw

Juan Guerra's second goal of the week wasn't enough to lift the Cosmos over the shorthanded San Francisco Deltas on Wednesday. Photograph by NASL

Cosmos logoAlthough the end products are essentially the same, the New York Cosmos‘ (1-2-6, 9 Fall; 7-6-12, 33 Combined) 2-2 draw with the San Francisco Deltas (2-1-4, 10 Fall; 9-5-9, 36 Combined) on Wednesday did not produce the same celebratory mood at MCU Park as the 3-3 draw the Cosmos rallied to three days before. A two-goal lead and a one-man advantage were not enough to carry the Cosmos to a win as the Deltas surged with two goals in the last 10 minutes.

Going home with only one point in hand has become all too common for the Cosmos, who have not won since July’s Fall Season opener. Wednesday’s draw is New York’s league-leading 12th of the year.

“I thought we had it today,” Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese said. “I felt that because of the way we were playing, we were going to get three points today, but unfortunately this is the way the season has been. It’s difficult and we have to keep going.”

San Francisco entered the match having not played since Sept. 2 because of Hurricane Irma and signs of rust were evident, allowing the Cosmos to develop a rhythm in the first half.

After biding their time with sustained pressure, the Cosmos finally broke through in the 13th minute when a long ball into the box deflected off Juan Arango into the path of Eugene Starikov. The attacker blasted a shot right into Romuald Peiser, but the rebound rolled toward Juan Guerra and the midfielder pounced on the open-look chance with a shot that clipped the inside of the left post.

“We did a lot of positive things today,” Guerra said. “We didn’t have to wait for something to wake us up and start playing. I think we went at them since the first minute we were playing, going full at them and attacking. We created a lot of chances.”

New York’s only setback in the opening half was Arango being unable to make it to halftime after sustaining an arm injury. Savarese didn’t have a diagnosis on the Venezuelan, only saying that “it didn’t look very good.”

Despite their dominance, the Cosmos struggled to finish their chances. Javi Marquez helped them find a second at the hour mark, forcing defender Karl Ouimette into a tackle on the right side of the box that drew a whistle from Guido Gonzalez Jr. Pablo Vranjican converted the ensuing penalty with a shot right down the middle.

Seconds after the restart, San Francisco’s night seemed done when it was reduced to 10 men. After having his run down the right wing snuffed out by Ayoze, Michael Stephens took a cheap shot at the defender while he was on the ground, eliciting a straight red card.

After the ejection, Savarese inserted defensive midfielders Kobi Moyal and Danny Szetela into the match and each made critical errors that opened the door for the Deltas. First, Szetela handed them a penalty by fouling Devon Sandoval, who then converted from the spot in the 80th minute. Five minutes later, Moyal inexplicably passed the ball straight to Kyle Bekker inside New York’s defensive third. Bekker quickly distributed the ball to Sandoval, who turned and delivered a scorching long-range shot past Brian Holt.

“I believe that we got a little complacent,” Savarese said. “I think the thing that was missing was us being able to put the game down. We had a few chances, and if we would’ve capitalized those chances they would’ve given up. We gave them life. When they scored to make it 2-1, they believed they could get back into the game. In the end, these are more lost points that we had in our hands and we couldn’t capitalize.”

Second from the bottom in the Fall Season standings with just seven matches left, the Cosmos are now placing all their hopes on nabbing a postseason spot through the Combined Standings. They have a quick turnaround to host North Carolina FC on Saturday, giving them one more chance to gain ground on a team above them in the Combined Season standings. The two points earned so far this week have the Cosmos even with Jacksonville and North Carolina at 33 points, but they trail on tiebreakers. The margin of error is becoming smaller and smaller for the Cosmos to climb into a postseason spot.

“Now it’s catching up on our part. It’s trying to get three points every game because we have given away too many games,” Savarese said. “It’s unfortunate. I could give you the story of each game, what we could’ve done to earn more, but the reality is we are where we are right now and we’re going to have to work.”