Cosmos Drop Home Opener

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By JAKE NUTTING

The amenities at MCU Park for the New York Cosmos’ first home match of year received positive reviews from the 6,204 who made the trip to Coney Island on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the onfield product wasn’t ready for prime time as the Cosmos fell, 3-0, to Miami FC — failing to register a shot on goal for the second straight week.

Despite the buzz of the home crowd, the visitors were the ones to start the match with a dangerous scoring chance. Stefano Pinho split the Cosmos’ back line with a through ball for Jaime Chávez before the second minute was up. Chávez looked to catch Jimmy Maurer off his line with an attempt from distance, but the keeper plucked the shot out of the air at the top of the box.

Midfielder Javi Márquez tried his luck with a similar effort from near the halfway line in the seventh minute. However, the Spaniard’s chip sailed a couple yards over the crossbar.

With Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes unavailable because of a groin injury, New York’s center backs David Ochieng and Dejan Jakovic struggled to contain Miami’s high-powered attack. Pinho, Chávez and Kwawdo Poku found space to operate in New York’s defensive third, but none were able to make use of it.

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Walter Restrepo

A penalty in the 34th minute gave Miami its best shot of the opening half. Another through ball from Pinho slipped Chávez behind the defense and Ochieng tugged the attacker to the ground while trying to make the recovery run. Richie Ryan stepped to the spot to convert, but lifted his strike into the stands to the elation of the crowd.

New York escaped the first half unscathed only to let the floodgates open six minutes into the second 45. Miami’s captain Michael Lahoud whipped a cross from the right side for an unmarked Dylan Mares, who skillfully ripped his first left-footed touch back across goal to best Maurer.

Ten minutes after entering the match in the 57th for Chávez, Vincenzo Rennella helped double the lead. The Cosmos defense conceded a free run down the left flank to the attacker and he fired a cross that deflected off a sliding Ryan Richter to sneak by a helpless Maurer.

After setting his teammates up all night, Pinho finally got his chance to score four minutes after the own goal. Ochieng took a tumble while tracking a long ball in the air, freeing Pinho to collect the ball and round past Maurer for an easy finish.

By the time the match was coming to a close, the home supporters were pleading for at least a shot on goal. Substitutes Amauri and Eugene Starikov couldn’t provide enough of a spark, and Andrés Flores left the crowd wanting as he skied the final shot.

The loss is the first for Cosmos at home since 2015 and the first time they have been shut out at home since 2014. New York (1W-1D-1L, 1 point) is winless in its first two matches of the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season. New York plays a return match at Miami next Saturday.