Cosmos Draw in Indy, Stay Even with Jacksonville

Pablo Vranjican and Marco Franco grapple in Saturday's 2-2 draw between the Cosmos and Indy Eleven. Photo by NASL

Cosmos logoThe New York Cosmos (2-3-7, 13 Fall; 8-7-13, 37 Combined) produced an equalizer an each half of Saturday’s match at Indy Eleven (3-6-3, 12 Fall; 7-10-11, 32 Combined) to take earn a 2-2 result and take a valuable point in the postseason race. The draw levels the Cosmos with the Jacksonville Armada (3-5-4, 13 Fall; 9-9-10, 37 Combined) in the North American Soccer League‘s Combined Season standings, though the Cosmos hold fourth place over the Armada by virtue of the goal differential tiebreaker.

Don Smart set the tone for the night with a sensational strike just before the half-hour mark. Defender Marco Franco launched the sequence when he collected a loose ball near the halfway line and pushed it forward into space for Smart to run onto. With no one closing him down, Smart waited for the ball to bounce into the box and sent his first touch straight into the top corner, catching the inside of the near post to beat a helpless Jimmy Maurer.

The Cosmos answered Smart’s goal with an opportunistic chance in the 36th minute. Javi Marquez delivered a forceful blast from outside the box straight at Jon Busch in the center of the net, but the keeper could only pop the ball back into the air. Reading the play, Emmanuel Ledesma followed the shot with no defender marking him and volleyed the rebound across the line.

Pablo Vranjican earned New York’s first penetrating run into Indy’s box just three minutes later. His service found Lucky Mkosana, but the attacker slipped trying to corral the ball and got off a weak shot that Busch scooped up.

Both keepers were called on to make vital saves on long-range attempts early in the second half. First, Marquez tried his luck from 19 yards out with left-footed strike toward the bottom left corner that Busch laid out to deny. Five minutes later, Ben Speas powered a right-footed shot from the same distance toward the near post, but Maurer came through with the save.

Smart again helped Indy pull ahead, this time with a perfectly placed cross to the back post for Eamon Zayed to cap a counter attack in the 64th minute. Zayed placed his attempt close to Maurer, but the keeper could not control the ball as it made its way into the back of the net.

New York showed no sign of discouragement as it charged down the field to level the match just five minutes later. After Busch saved Indy by saving a dangerous deflection off Daniel Keller off the line moments earlier, Indy’s defense let the keeper down with poor marking. Marquez was allotted acres of space on the right side of the box to plot his attack. The Spaniard drew Brad Ring in, touched the ball past him and then beat Busch to the near post with a swift shot.

Looking to replicate his first-half effort, Smart attempted another shot from an identical position in the 80th minute. This time the woodwork was less cooperative as his attempt from the top of the box clipped the top of the crossbar to keep the match knotted.

The Cosmos return home next weekend to host Edmonton in their final match of the regular season at MCU Park.