Cosmos Take a Point Against Indy on Independence Day

Indy Eleven's Colin Falvey clears the ball as Emmanuel Ledesma pressures. The two were involved in the penalty that resulted in New York's late equalizer. Image, Indy Eleven


Cosmos logoAs he has done several times during the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season, Emmanuel Ledesma salvaged a late result for the New York Cosmos on Tuesday night. This time the Argentine bailed the Cosmos out of a potential loss to Indy Eleven in front 6,734 Independence Day onlookers at MCU Park (the team’s largest crowd of the season) with an equalizing penalty in the final moments to notch a 1-1 draw.

“A disappointing tie for us at home,” Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Definitely we want to earn three points, and the way the game was today I think we should have done a little bit more. I think in the first half we were playing a way that I thought we could have utilized more space to create dangers.”

While New York’s attack was toothless for most of the first half, its defense had a scare in the 26th minute as Jimmy Maurer came charging far outside his box. As forward Eamon Zayed pushed by the last defender on a counter attack, Maurer came through with a crucial clearance on Zayed’s final touch forward into space.

Another sluggish start at home finally caught up with the Cosmos (5-3-6, 21 points) in the 33rd minute. Marco Franco delivered a shrewd ball in to Ben Speas in the center of the box that broke open New York’s back line. Franco’s delivery was on point to Speas, who appeared to be letdown by a heavy first touch until center back David Ochieng slipped, allowing the attacker to regain the ball and fire a shot through the Maurer’s legs.

If not for a clutch save by Maurer, Indy (2-4-8, 14) could have doubled the lead in the immediate aftermath of Speas’ tally. Standing toe-to-toe with Zayed in front of goal, Maurer stymied the attacker’s volley with a kick save.

During the break, Savarese swapped Walter Restrepo out for Eugene Starikov, a move that proved beneficial. Starikov was active up top and aided in implementing a high press, forcing Indy’s defense into more errors and creating more chances.

An injury to veteran Ayoze forced Savarese to turn to his bench again just before the hour mark. The situation gave Eric Calvillo a rare appearance, though the young midfielder could only produce a header into the arms of keeper Jon Busch and an awkward half-volley well wide of net.

Juan Guerra was gifted the first true scoring chance of the night thanks the work of first-time starter Pablo Vranjican, who stripped a defender in the box in the 69th minute and fed the ball to Guerra in the center of the box. Busch rushed off his line, closing down Guerra and thwarting his rapid shots.

Starikov had a similar experience trying to best Busch 12 minutes later. The attacker rushed toward the near post, but the seasoned keeper stood his ground and denied the initial shot and the swift rebound effort.

New York’s rally was given a helpful final push over the line when Referee Marcos De Oliveira‘s whistle went in its favor. De Oliveira wasted no time pointing to the spot as Ledesma clattered to the ground after minimal contact with defender Colin Falvey on the left edge of the box. Ledesma assuredly converted the opportunity with a shot into the bottom right corner.

Maurer was called on one more time to help his team escape the holiday with a point, diving to his left to push a low strike from substitute David Goldsmith from outside the box out of danger. The draw is New York’s fourth at home this year. With just two wins at home, both against last-place Puerto Rico FC, the Cosmos know they need to stop leaving points on the table at MCU Park if they hope to be fighting for a title at the end of the season.

“I think we need to a little more eager to do more things and be ,in some way, individually more towards the team,” Savarese said. “I think we have to give more towards the team and sometimes be able to find better situations in some moments. We need some better decisions, we need some moments in which we need to believe a little bit more. I think if we put that effort in we’re going to be able to find those points that we’ve been leaving behind.”