Defensive Lapse Costs Cosmos

Jul 8, 2017;  Indianapolis, IN USA;  NASL  NY Cosmos at Indy Eleven  -  match held at IUPUI's Michael A. Carroll Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer

By JAKE NUTTING

Cosmos logoIn their second meeting with Indy Eleven (3-4-8, 17) points this week, the New York Cosmos (5-4-6,21) fell 2-1. Emmanuel Ledesma recorded his fifth goal for the Cosmos, but a momentary lapse from the defense in the second half ultimately cost them a point at Michael Carroll Stadium.

A few minutes after helping the Cosmos avoid an early deficit with an outstanding diving save to deny Don Smart‘s long-range strike in the 13th minute, Jimmy Maurer was hamstrung by a questionable penalty call from Referee Alejandro Mariscal. Ryan Richter was whistled for a phantom hold on forward Justin Braun as the two jockeyed for positioning for a cross toward the near post. The Cosmos protested, but Mariscal did not waiver and Smart stepped up to convert into the bottom right corner.

New York responded well after the penalty with pressure on Indy up the field. Midfielder Juan Guerra led the charge for the equalizer on the counter attacking in the 27th minute, feeding Eric Calvillo at the top of the box. With five Indy defenders dropped deep inside the box, Calvillo picked his head up and passed back to the unmarked Ledesma. The Argentine rifled his first touch into the back of the net as keeper Jon Busch stood at the opposite side of the goal.

Maurer and Busch were both called on to keep the match level in the final minutes before the break. The Cosmos keeper stood his ground at the near post to stymie a powerful shot from Braun, while Busch laid out to clear an attempt by Eugene Starikov as the attacker raced into the box to smash an errant pass back.

Ledesma continued to be the focal point of New York’s attack in the second half. In the 65th minute, Ledesma penetrated the left side of Indy’s box and rocketed a shot over Busch that glanced off the crossbar. Six minutes later, he powered a free kick on frame from 19 yards out, but Busch read the play all the way and swatted the strike away.

Just as it looked as if the Cosmos were on the verge of grabbing a second, they fell asleep defending a corner kick, after an errant clearance by David Ochieng, to gift Indy the winner. Defender Nemanja Vukovic lofted his corner to the par post for Braun, who easily shook his mark off and headed his effort over the shoulder Maurer.

The result is only New York’s second loss away from home of the season. Jacksonville settled for a point in Puerto Rico, so third place remains within New York’s reach ahead of next week’s Spring Season finale. But North Carolina could pull even with the Cosmos for fourth next weekend.

New York will play its spring finale in Canada next Saturday against the struggling FC Edmonton.