Cosmos Seal Win Over Puerto Rico in Stoppage Time

IMAGE, NASL

by JAKE NUTTING

It may still be too early to say they’re back in full force, but the ‘Cardiac Cosmos’ are finally showing signs of life in 2016.

For the second straight week, the New York Cosmos rallied from a first half deficit to find the winning goal in second half stoppage time. After recording the assist in last week’s winner, Andres Flores took the honor himself in Puerto Rico, scoring unassisted from distance to lift his team over the expansion side.

Saturday’s match at Puerto Rico FC was also a mirror of last week’s outing — in an unfortunate way. The Cosmos got off to a rough start. The hottest striker in the NASL, Hector Ramos, punished the Cosmos for some lazy defending midway through the opening half. Paulo Mendes delivered a well-weighted through ball past the back line for Ramos, who calmly dribbled into the box and sent a right-footed shot past Jimmy Maurer.

New York’s defense nearly dug itself deeper in the 40th minute, when Ramos slipped behind the back line once again. This time, though, Ramos wasted the one-on-one chance by sending his chip a few feet left of the net.

The Cosmos regrouped during the halftime break, coming out with more purpose and energy in Puerto Rico’s defensive end. The positive play finally translated into an equalizer in the 62nd thanks to some dogged play from Jairo Arrieta. Left back Ayoze sent a hopeful long ball into the box that defender Ramon Martin Del Campo headed straight into the air in front of his own net. Keeper David Meves came off his line to collect but was disrupted by physical play from Arrieta and coughed up the ball for the attacker to tap blast across the line. Thinking he was impeded by Arrieta, Meves pleaded for a whistle but got nothing from the referee.

After leveling things up, the Cosmos had to survive a brief swell from the home side. Puerto Rico’s Cristiano Dias had a terrific opportunity to regain the lead in the 74th minute with a volley effort, but Maurer did well to come off his line and deflect the ball out for a corner.

Given their abysmal showing on the road thus far in the season, a 1-1 draw in their first trip to Puerto Rico seemed like a perfectly adequate finish for the Cosmos. Flores had other thoughts, though, ripping a shot 25 yards from goals in the first minute of stoppage time. His strike wasn’t hit with much oomph, but Meves was completely thrown off by a wicked bounce the shot took right in front of him and the ball zipped by into the back of the net.

The win lifts the Cosmos into second place in both the Fall Season and Combined standings. FC Edmonton took hold of the top spot after riding out a 1-0 win in Tampa Bay, while Indy Eleven fell to third as a result of their loss in Carolina. The Cosmos will host those Carolina RailHawks next week at Shuart Stadium.