Maurer Owns First-Half Error, Orozco Helps Wipe it Away



There was never a doubt in Gio Savarese’s mind that the New York Cosmos were going to finish on top in Saturday’s semifinal clash with Rayo OKC.

“All along, I always believed that our guys we’re going to pull it out and be able to get the victory, but it wasn’t easy.” Savarese said. “We needed first to make sure we stayed calm.”

Of course, that’s an easy sentiment to express after the fact. Savarese’s squad still had to go out and do the work against a determined Rayo OKC side that fought tooth and nail to keep the Cosmos at bay after taking the lead.

The visitors struck the first blow on an unfortunate set-piece sequence for the Cosmos in the 37th minute. Playmaker Michel curled a set piece from distance straight into the center of the box for Futty Danso, who got just enough of his head on the service to guide it toward the far post. Jimmy Maurer seemed to be in a good position to handle the header, but instead saw the ball slip right through his hands and bounce into the net.

“[Danso] got a decent little flick on it, and just the wet turf… I just had a complete blunder,” Maurer admitted. “I mean the ball went right through my hands. That can’t happen in a big game like this. That’s soccer., you make mistakes and you move on. You shake your head and you curse a bit and you go to the next play.”

Unable to level things in the final moments of the first 45 minutes, the Cosmos headed for the locker room trailing at halftime for just the second time at home all year. Maurer owned up to his mistake at the break, but his teammates were quick to lift his spirits for the second half.

“When we spoke at halftime Jimmy Maurer mentioned that he thought it was his fault, the one goal that he scored,” said Yohandry Orozco. “We told him that it wasn’t him. It was actually a team effort and we had to bounce back as a team. We cheered him up and let him know we were a team and we came back strong as a team.”

Orozco made good on his promise seconds before the start of stoppage time.

Reinvigorated by Juan Arango’s goal in the 73rd minute, Orozco found himself with an open look at goal after the veteran dished a pass toward him in front of net. Insecurity momentarily crept in for Orozco, who thought the strike from his less-favored right foot was heading just wide of the post.

“There was a lot of adrenaline going on, especially after Juan Arango scored the first one,” he said. “We knew that whenever we had the opportunity to score, we just had to nail it.

“As soon as I hit the ball, it was going wide. Of course I got a little concerned, but as it got nearer to the post, I knew it was going in and I started running immediately because I knew I was going to score.”

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