Late rally books Cosmos’ place in NASL Final

Arango Cosmos

by JAKE NUTTING

For the third time in four years, the New York Cosmos are back in the NASL Final.

Goals from Juan Arango and Yohandry Orozco late in the second half erased Rayo OKC’s advantage and pushed the Cosmos to a 2-1 win in their final match at Hofstra’s Suharto Stadium.

The victory didn’t come easy for New York. After a cagey opening 15 minutes, it was the visitors who asserted themselves in the opening half. The Cosmos had trouble handling the physicality of Rayo OKC and were faced with the first threat on goal in the 18th minute. Ayoze stuck his foot out to disrupt a cross from the left flank meant for Michel in the center of the box, but the defender’s clearance floated toward net. Jimmy Maurer sprung to action, leaping to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Rayo OKC continued to swarm the Cosmos and prevent them from developing the midfield harmony they hoped for, but the Cosmos still managed to come within inches of grabbing the lead in the 33rd minute. Adam Moffat whipped in a cross for Jairo Arrieta, who rose to beat his mark with a flicked header. Daniel Fernandez was on point, though, stretching out to make a fingertip Dave that was aided by fortuitous deflections off both the crossbar and post.

Five minutes later, Rayo OKC would not be denied on a header of their own. Michel delivered a lethal, curling free kick from 38 yards out that dropped down for a streaking Futty Danso. The towering center back didn’t have to jump much to nick the ball with his head. Maurer got his hands on the attempt, but not enough to keep it in front of him and out of the net.

Going down appeared to liven the Cosmos, who pushed forward with more instenskty as Rayo OKC looked to just make it to halftime with the lead intact.

Yohandry Orozco danced inside the penalty area and sent a cross for the head of Arrieta, but his effort was cleared out of danger with a block by Danso.

Rayo OKC nearly helped the Cosmos find an equalizer 15 minutes into the second half. Ayoze raced into the the box from the left side and drilled a cross in front of goal that deflected off the feet of right back Jarad Van Schaik, requiring Fernandez to scoop the ball off the line at the last moment.

With the tide shifting in their favor, the Cosmos started to swarm Rayo OKC in the final third. Ayoze lofted a cross for Arrieta to blast a shot that was blocked and fell to Richter for a follow up attempt. Richter’ trickled through the crowd and rolled toward net only tinned swiped off the the line by Danso.

The momentum swing finally came to a head with an equalizer in the 73rd minute. A corner kick opportunity ended with a goal from leading scorer Juan Arango. Orozco found his go-ahead goal with minutes left in the game, earning the Cosmos their spot in the Soccer Bowl.

New York will now host Indy Eleven at Belson Stadium on November 13 at 7 p.m.