Preview: New York Cosmos at Miami FC

May 22, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Cosmos midfielder Ruben Bover (15) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Rowdies during the first half at James M. Shuart Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

by JAKE NUTTING

In the second week of the Fall Season, the New York Cosmos are heading to the site of their lone away win in the Spring Season.

A thorough 3-0 triumph over Miami FC on May 7 was the outlier for the Cosmos in a spring that saw them lose all four of their other matches away from home.

Since that embarrassing loss at the hands of the Cosmos, Miami has been splashing major money to revamp its roster. Former Cosmos midfielder Michael Lahoud and former Fury midfielder Richie Ryan were added through transfer but it wasn’t enough for the expansion side to lift itself out of the bottom spot in the standings. Unsatisfied with their spot on the table, Miami went out and added another former Cosmos player in Gabriel Farfan and the underutilized attacker Kwadwo Poku from New York City FC.

Miami’s new-look squad started off the Fall Season with a ho-hum 1-1 draw at Fort Lauderdale.

Saturday’s match kicks of a busy stretch for the Cosmos, who will play three matches over the next eight days and three more after that to close out July.


Match Information

Saturday, July 9, Ocean Bank Field, 8 p.m. ET

TV/Streaming: ONE World Sports, oneworldsports.com

Referee: Marcos Deoliveira

Last meeting: Cosmos Win, 3-0.


Cosmos’ attack vs. Miami’s defense

Some stumbling blocks are to be expected for any expansion club, but the effort from Miami’s defensive unit in the spring loss to the Cosmos was embarrassing by any standard. While the back line has been steadied since the lopsided loss, there are still some signs of concern. The talent has been there from the beginning, it’s just a matter of the players showing they can coalesce. Keeper Daniel Vega has covered for many deficiencies and currently leads the league with 34 saves.

Yasmani Duk is confirmed to be out once again, so New York’s choice up top comes down to Lucky Mkosana and Jairo Arrieta. Mkosana made the most of his first start last week with an energetic performance and a sensational strike for his first goal of the year. Arrieta, meanwhile, hasn’t recorded a goal since May.

Slight advantage: Cosmos


Miami’s attack vs. Cosmos defense

Regular starter Jimmy Maurer is expected back in net after getting a chance to take a mental break following his costly errors in the U.S. Open Cup exit. The back line in front of him is also likely to return to normal. David Ochieng was rock solid in his first league start last week, but it’s hard to see the Cosmos choosing him over a fully fit Roversio at this point.

Lining up to test the Cosmos back line will be Dario Cvitanich. The striker leads his team with four goals but has struggled as of late to produce consistently due to a combination of the system around him and weak finishing. He only got on the scoresheet last week thanks to a penalty. Dane RichardsJaime Chavez and Pablo Campos have been even less impactful coming off the bench.

Advantage: Cosmos


Midfields

Kwadwo Poku made his official debut for Miami last week, playing out on the right wing of the midfield. The attacker only mustered one shot on frame and looked as if he had more progress to make meshing with his new team. Richie Ryan missed the fall opener due to injury, leaving the duty of holding the midfield together to Michael Lahoud. The defensive midfielder kept his squad organized and his intimacy with the Cosmos could prove beneficial to Miami this week.

Yohandry Orozco gives the Cosmos a favorable mismatch down the left side of the field, as Miami doesn’t have many players that can match his pace and Poku isn’t known for his commitment to defensive cover. With Adam Moffat now healthy, the Cosmos can lean on his experience or the intensity that Danny Szetela is capable of bringing. Juan Arango should be back in the lineup after being one of the veterans given last week off. His tendency to switch off and disappear in matches can be detrimental against some opponents, but the Cosmos should have enough to overcome that habit regardless.

Advantage: Cosmos


Coaches

Miami can spend every last cent they have on players but it won’t amount to much if first-year head coach Alessandro Nesta can’t come through with a system to maximize their abilities. Thus far Miami has been guilty of defensive disorganization and a continually uninspired attack. A healthy bit of that criticism must fall on Nesta.

The Cosmos are at a crossroads. Gio Savarese has them in prime position to make the postseason for a fourth straight year but the team has rarely been dominant. Following the recent roster losses and the sudden Open Cup exit, Savarese will need to be at the top of his game to help the Cosmos avoid a summer slump. The win in the fall opener was encouraging, but a few issues on the roster need addressing sooner rather than later.

Advantage: Cosmos


X-factor

After the posturing from Miami with several record-setting transfer fees, the Cosmos are no longer the big kid on the block when it comes to spending. No one in the NASL is as good at carrying a chip on their shoulder as the Cosmos. With the recent roster swiping perpetrated by Miami, look for the Cosmos push hard to assert their dominance over the NASL newcomers.


Prediction: Cosmos 2-1  


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