Cosmos Yield a Late Goal in Draw

Mechack Jerome, Emmanuel Ledesma. Image, NASL

By JAKE NUTTING

imgres-1The New York Cosmos were a few ticks of the clock away from unseating Jacksonville at the top of the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season standings on Saturday night. Instead, the Cosmos saw a one-goal lead slip away for the second time this year against the Armada, and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Two weeks ago at MCU Park in Brooklyn, Javi Márquez put the Cosmos ahead of the Armada with a strike into the bottom right corner. This time, he did it on a 30-yard free kick in the 24th minute that dipped perfectly and curled past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell.

The unbeaten Armada (2-0-4, 10 points) tried to equalize immediately after Márquez’s goal on the counter attack. A cross from the left flank found midfielder J.C. Banks in between the Cosmos back line at the top of the box, but he lifted the chance yards over the bar.

Apart from Banks’ look at goal, New York (2-1-3, 9) managed to limit Jacksonville from creating much and held most of the possession in the first half. Captain Danny Szetela nearly doubled the lead for the Cosmos shortly before the break when he fired a shot from 20 yards toward the top corner that required a leaping save from Patterson-Sewell.

After halftime, Jacksonville put the Cosmos under pressure. Derek Gebhard slipped behind the back line in the opening moments, but sent his shot wide when Jimmy Maurer rushed off his line to shut down the shooting angle.

Mechack Jérôme aimed to level the match in the 72nd minute with a free kick from the same area where Márquez scored. But his shot narrowly missed and scuffed the top of the crossbar.

Substitute attacker Irvin Herrera almost put away the match for the Cosmos in the 78th minute. Patterson-Sewell, though, dove to his right to deny Herrera’s low strike from outside the box and keep Jacksonville’s hope alive.

Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese fortified his defense and stymied Jacksonville’s rally by taking center backs Carlos Mendes and David Ochieng off the bench, but the home side did not relent.

In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Zach Steinberger rifled a volley on target that Maurer had no chance of stopping to rescue a point for Jacksonville. With no defender closing him down, Steinberger was free to to line up a booming volley from inside the box that sailed across the line.

New York returns to MCU Park next weekend after taking four points in its two-match road swing. It will face winless Puerto Rico, which also allowed a goal in the last minute and fell to Miami, which vaulted into first place after its 2-1 at home.