Preview: New York Cosmos host San Antonio Scorpions

IMAGE, NEW YORK COSMOS

On paper, the New York Cosmos could not have asked for a better opponent to face than the San Antonio Scorpions. After all, the team is riding a three-game winless streak to start the NASL Fall Championship.

Well, standings can be deceiving.

“San Antonio is a very hungry team right now and we know they’re going to come in here 100% motivated to get the result,” Head Coach Giovanni Savarese explains. “I expect a very tough match, but we’re prepared and our players know this is a very important game for us.”

The Scorpions have been left reeling ever since their embarrassing season opener against the Tampa Bay Rowdies where the team squandered a 3-0 lead at home only to lose 7-4. That doesn’t mean they are a side to be taken lightly. San Antonio finished the Spring Championship tied for second with the Carolina Railhawks. They have two of the more lethal strikers in the NASL – Hans Denissen and Tomasz Zahorski.

They also have plenty of veteran options within their lineup. Former MLS defender Greg Janicki anchors a backline that also includes former first division players Blake Wagner, and other defensive options like captain Kevin Harmse, Pat Phelan and former Red Bull keeper Jeremy Vuolo.

After a thrilling victory at home to open their campaign, the Cosmos have progressively cooled since. Can they pick up a victory at Hofstra? Here is your preview:

PROJECTED LINEUP:

Noselli
Diaz – Ayoze – Marosevic
Senna – Szetela
Veeder – Roversio – Mendes – Freeman
Reynish

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

– TACTICS: While Savarese has stayed true to his 4-2-3-1 system, San Antonio boss Tim Hankinson likes to keep things fluid. Against FC Edmonton, Hankinson employed a 5-3-2 with veteran Janicki playing sweeper. A crowded box can cause nightmares for the Cosmos who lack a slashing presence to break down the defense.

– SUSPENSIONS: Sebastian Guenzatti, Joseph “JoJo” Nane and assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian are all out of this match due to red card infractions in a wild Carolina Railhawks loss. While Danny Szetela can prove a suitable replacement for Nane, you lose size in the process and introduce a new element alongside Senna in perhaps the most important part of the Cosmos tactic. Guenzatti brings the more difficult skill set to make up for. Diomar Diaz, the opening day starter, will likely be called upon to fill his role.

– ROVERSIO: The likely starter alongside Carlos Mendes, Roversio will be tasked with a pair of difficult assignments in his first day on the job. How he and Mendes fare in containing Hans Denissen and Tomasz Zahorski can very well dictate the winner at Hofstra.

– OFFENSE: Two goals through three games is nothing to be proud of. And let’s face it; for as dramatic as both goals were, neither were the consequence of a build up in play. Noselli is a target striker at best and needs someone to feed him the ball in order to be dangerous up top. Senna can serve him in from the middle, but the wings need to step up. All eyes will be on Diaz and Peri Marosevic.

– ATTENDANCE: The New York Cosmos drew a sellout crowd of 11,989 fans for their home opener. Two less-than-inspiring results on the road and a lack of televised exposure may hurt their ability to draw. In this, their second game of the season, the Cosmos won’t likely have the same numbers in attendance. Much like their MLS neighbors in Harrison, the gate will always be a running storyline for the club and their gameday draw for match two will certainly be a story to follow.

PREDICTION:

So who will be the first team to snap their winless streak? Can San Antonio manage a mostly defensive stance into a counter-attacking clinic? Will the Cosmos suddenly find their offensive touch? I call for neither to happen.

Cosmos 0-0 Scorpions