Preview: Cosmos Look to Down Indy for the First Time

IMAGE, NYCOSMOS.COM

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
Staff Writer

Indy Eleven have been a huge thorn in the Cosmos’ side since they came into existence this year.

In two games this year, the teams have drawn even, leaving the Cosmos with an air of disappointment each time. New York has clearly been the better side on each occasion but have only been able to share the results at home and on the road. In fact, the Cosmos can point to their Spring draw at home as the main reason why they didn’t win the nine-game season and an automatic spot in the playoffs.

Finishing a mere one point behind Minnesota United, the team was left with a sinking feeling of “what if?” especially since it was the team’s only draw during the half campaign.  Now, Indy kick starts the Cosmos’ final five game run towards a playoff spot.  Will they play spoiler one last time?

Cosmos Need Playoff Momentum

The Fall Season trophy is becoming less of a reality. So much so that head coach Giovanni Savarese has removed the standings from the team’s locker room whiteboard.

The team is taking a game by game approach to the remainder of the season. While it may not be outwardly stated, that mindset is exactly what the team will need in the playoffs. As the Cosmos prepare for potentially two road trips to defend their NASL crown, a need for positive momentum is a necessity. One way to gain that winning feeling is by dismissing the team that has haunted them all year.

Indy is not in the playoff hunt but seems to relish the chance at putting down New York’s hopes. The team has garnered seven draws all year and two of them have come at the expense of the Cosmos. They didn’t play particularly well in either meeting but New York simply didn’t have enough to bury the game when necessary. Should the reigning champs accomplish that feat this weekend, that winning feeling will return to Hofstra, where the Cosmos haven’t exactly been unbeatable.

Conceding Has Been a Big Problem

The Cosmos defense hasn’t been as tight as we’ve seen in the past. The Spring Season saw the team dominate, only allowing three goals in nine games. In thirteen games, that number has ballooned to nineteen goals. Injuries to Senna and Roversio can be attributed to the team’s defensive lapses but that doesn’t explain why they seemingly fall apart late in games. The previous two road games saw the Cosmos play fantastic in the first half, barely allowing the opposition a look at goal. In Carolina, that fell apart, with the team allowing five goals in one half. In Edmonton, despite controlling play for fifty-one minutes, they conceded the pivotal goal that decided the match.

Against Indy earlier this year, New York took a two goal lead into the second half but wasn’t able to hold tight. This trend is a bit startling and worrisome as the Cosmos approach the playoffs. Indy is a great chance to get things back on track. While they aren’t Minnesota or San Antonio, the team needs to start somewhere. Inclusions like Connor Lade may have been done to better the offense but they have left openings that players like Mendes and Szetela haven’t been able to plug.

Stokkelien Silently Putting Together a Good Year?

Mads Stokkelien has been criticized for his lack of finishing in the past. The game in Edmonton was a classic example as he had several headers either parried by the goalkeeper or put over the bar. With that said, the Norwegian striker has seven goals this season. That number ties him for fourth in the league. In fact, the second best goalscorer in the NASL only has nine goals, meaning a big night for Mads could easily make him one of the most effective strikers in the league.

While he does suffer from a bit of “A-Rod” syndrome (not being able to score in big moments), his work with Danny Mwanga has led to some of his best efforts since putting on the uniform.

If given the chance, Stokkelien should have multiple looks at net against Indy. They will need him to convert in order to bury the pesky new franchise as early as possible. Even then, Stokkelien’s efforts will need to be consistent as the team hasn’t gotten a stellar ninety minute performance from the striker all season.