The New York Cosmos took command of first place in the NASL table with a shutout victory over Minnesota United. Four games later, they are four points clear of a three team cluster at fourth place. Amongst those teams? Minnesota United.
Needless to say, there will be plenty of incentive for the home-side as the league-darling Cosmos trot into town.
“We have created a great legacy here and the Cosmos are trying to reinvigorate their legacy,” United coach Manny Lagos said. “I think it’s an exciting weekend for Minnesota soccer, and then you take the competitive side, where it’s a pivotal point in the season for us and really pivotal in terms of continuing to play well at home and keep moving forward as a team.”
The last time these teams met, a series of missed opportunities marred either teams play. It wasn’t until a Hunter Freeman cross found Sebastian Guenzatti with the header that anyone managed to break the deadlock.
“First of all, Minnesota is a very good team,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese says. “They presented some difficulties when we played them at home and we were fortunate to come away with the win. So we know this weekend will be a good challenge from them.”
Here are a few notes for this weeks match-up:
With Hunter Gorskie and Alessandro Noselli expected to miss time again this week, there exists a strong possibility that the Cosmos will trot out the same starting XI this week as they did against Tampa Bay.
The one question mark would be the return of Guenzatti from his second ill-advised red card suspension of the season. A Savarese favorite, he will have a difficult time unseating Paulo Mendes who excelled last week against the Rowdies. In fact, Savarese said as much when speaking to SBI this week.
The Cosmos have gone against the grain on the road, preferring to employ their style of attacking soccer instead of bunkering down and bowing to the game elements. Through four road matches, the team has a 1-1-2 record, with their most recent result being a victory against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
With five games remaining in the season (three on the road), New York can ill afford to drop points if they want to continue their Soccer Bowl run. Road results, starting with Minnesota, are key.
ALL EYES ON REYNISH
Was it simply a glitch in what has been a respectable season, or is Kyle Reynish showing his true colors? The veteran keeper looked erratic in a shootout win against the Rowdies last week, causing some to question his starting status. Bryan Meredith, formerly of the Seattle Sounders, has been brought into the team as their third keeper. Chad Calderone and Jim Maurer continue to work their way back to health. Competition will be aplenty if the former RSL netminder can not find his form.
THE REST OF THE NASL
The Tampa Bay Rowdies, Carolina Railhawks and Minnesota United all trail New York by four points. Tampa Bay continues their road run as they face local rival Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium. Meanwhile, Carolina is on the road at Edmonton this Sunday against one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Both contenders are facing up hill battles in environment and competition. With a win at Minnesota, the Cosmos can potentially be up to seven points ahead of all other competitors with four games left in the year.