Preview: New York Cosmos host Fort Lauderdale Strikers

IMAGE, ANTHONY J. MERCED FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JAKE NUTTING

Sunday will see the New York Cosmos kick off the final month of the NASL  regular season with a healthy lead in both in the Fall Season and Combined Season standings. The Cosmos will take the field five times in the month of October and will take the field twice at home, where the team has not lost a match in over a year. A win or draw this weekend for the Cosmos would tie their own 18-game unbeaten record run at home.

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers fly to New York having lost back-to-back matches, suggesting the team’s turmoil off the field may finally be catching up with them on the field. Ownership has had difficulty meeting payroll all year, but the players have found a way to stay relevant on the table regardless. The Strikers are still alive in the chase for the fourth playoff spot, although that could quickly change if they can’t register a win soon.


Match Information

Sunday, October 2, 4 p.m. ET. Shuart Stadium

TV/Streaming: ONE World Sports, oneworldsports.com

Referee: Mathieu Bourdeau

Last Meeting: Draw, 0-0


Cosmos’ attack vs. Strikers’ defense

While the Cosmos still lead the league in goals by a sizable margin, they haven’t gotten much production at all from the forwards over the last few weeks. Yes, the team’s system has always leaned more heavily on the midfield, but six matches is an undeniably long stretch to go without getting a goal or assist from Jairo Arrieta, Lucky Mkosana or Yasmani Duk.

The good news for Fort Lauderdale is that center back Gale Agbossoumonde was finally back on the field on Wednesday after his injury last month. The bad news is that he picked up his fifth yellow card of the Fall Season in his return and will miss Sunday’s match due to suspension. Even with Agbossoumonde, though, Fort Lauderdale’s back line has been suspect. Keeper Bruno has come up with some spectacular saves over the last two months, including in the recent draw with the Cosmos, but the South Florida club has still conceded the third most goals in the league (33).

Slight Advantage: Cosmos


Strikers’ attack vs. Cosmos’ defense

Ryan Richter put in a quality shift in his debut at right back for the Cosmos on Wednesday. With Richter in the lineup, the Cosmos were able to remedy the woes from their 3-0 loss at Indy last weekend and record their 12th clean sheet of the year against the RailHawks. David Ochieng could be on the verge of putting his stamp on the starting position at center back alongside Carlos Mendes given Roversio’s continued struggle with fitness.

Fort Lauderdale has two big-bodied options up top in Maicon Santon and Amauri, who both also possess a fair bit of technical skill. While Santos leads the team in scoring with seven goals, Amauri has already made a mark since signing in August by tallying four goals in just eight appearances.

Slight Advantage: Cosmos


Midfields

Adam Moffat’s return to the midfield on Wednesday shored up some of the possession problems the team had in the loss to Indy. The team experimented with shifting some players around in the midfield against Carolina and it didn’t quite pay off with many scoring chances. Andres Flores’ strength seems to be spurring the attack from the center of the field, while Yohandry Orozco remains most deadly bombing down the wing with pace to deliver the ball into the box for runners.

Despite their financial struggles, the Strikers picked up NASL veterans Pascal  Millien and Junior Sandoval last week after they were released by Jacksonville. Considering they’ve only had two appearances so far, their chemistry with their new teammates has much room for improvement. Fort Lauderdale does boast two dynamic midfield threats in Ramon Nunez and Jose Angulo. Nunez leads the team with four assists and 36 scoring chances, while Angulo has picked up three assists and four goals working from the wing.

Advantage: Cosmos


Coaches

The fact that the Cosmos have lost just once in their last 36 matches at home speaks volumes about the consistency Gio Savarese has been able achieve with the Cosmos. The ability to have the defense immediately bounce back from the rough loss in Indy is impressive, but if the forwards don’t start connecting with the rest of the team to score goals again things could get hairy for the Cosmos in the final stretch of the season.

Caio Zanardi has done a respectable job holding his squad together in what could have been a highly distracting situation. However, a lack of tactical discipline and commitment to defending as a unit has still cropped up to sink the team a number of times.

Advantage: Cosmos


Notable

Sunday’s match will mark the 100th appearance of Ayoze across all competitions for the Cosmos. The Spaniard has been a mainstay on the left side of the back line for the Cosmos over the past four seasons, and he currently leads the team with 2,197 minutes played this year. Ayoze is the second player to reach the milestone for the Cosmos in the modern era, following in the footsteps of his longtime teammate Carlos Mendes.


Prediction: Cosmos 2-0 


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  • Pele

    Anyone have spare tickets to sell? There’s nothing available on the Cosmos web site or Tickemaster. I need four. Will there be scalpers outside the gates? Hate to go all the way out there and not be able to get in. TIA!


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