Cosmos Let Three Points Slip Away in San Francisco

Patrick Hopkins sparks San FRanciscos two-goal comeback against the Cosmos with an equalizing volley in the 36th minute. Photograph, Robert Edwards-KLC Fotos

By JAKE NUTTING

Cosmos logoTwo concessions late in the first half of Saturday night’s road encounter with the San Francisco Deltas (1-0-1, 4 points Fall; 8-4-6, 30 points Combined) cost the New York Cosmos (1-1-0, 3; 7-5-6, 27) dearly. San Francisco only needed two to hand the Cosmos their first loss of the North American Soccer League’s Fall Season.

It appeared to be New York’s night when forward Pablo Vranjicán tallied his second goal of the year only three minutes into the match. The Argentine was set up by a nice run down the right side by Eric Calvillo, who fed the ball into the center of the box for Eugene Starikov. Calvillo’s pass was behind Starikov, but the attacker kept the play alive with a hopeful flick to his left, putting the ball into Vranjicán’s path for an easy finish as he sprawled on the ground.

The Cosmos dictated most of the first half only to see their lead slip away in the final 10 minutes before the break.

“We had control of the match in its early stages,” Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese said. “However, two isolated plays put us in a difficult position going into the break. We tried to recover on the second half, but the game turned physical and unfortunately we ran out of time to come back.”

San Francisco’s newest signing Dagoberto was the catalyst on a brilliantly struck equalizer in the 36th minute. The Brazilian dropped a long-range free kick right on the money inside the six-yard box for Patrick Hopkins to power across the line with a volley as New York’s defenders lost him on his run to the far post.

The Deltas continued to press in the final minutes of the half and were rewarded with chance from the penalty spot. While attempting to prevent Dagoberto from collecting a loose ball in the center of the box, Cosmos center back Dejan Jakovic drew the whistle of Referee Malik Badawi when the ball grazed his high elbow. Tommy Heinemann converted the penalty for his team-leading sixth goal of the year, sending his forceful effort to the right of the Jimmy Maurer with ease.

Maurer got the better of Heinemann on another scoring opportunity 11 minutes out of the break, though. Dagoberto picked the pocket of center back David Ochieng‘s at the left of the box and raced forward before passing to Heinemann at the near post. Heinemann fired off a shot with his first touch, but Maurer pushed the point-blank effort out for a corner kick.

Romuald Peiser had his own point-blank save to keep the Deltas ahead, denying a strong volley from Starikov in the 63rd minute. Calvillo also came close to leveling the match when his low strike from 25 yards out weaved through the crowd and struck the outside of the far post.

The loss leaves the Cosmos fifth in the Fall Season standings after two weeks and moves the Deltas three points ahead of them in the Combined Season table. Next week will see the Cosmos again head west for a Friday night match against FC Edmonton (1-1-0, 4; 5-12-1, 16).