Preview: New York Cosmos vs. Minnesota United FC

mulligan cosmos

by JAKE NUTTING

Matchups between the New York Cosmos and Minnesota United FC have provided some exciting action in the NASL over the past few years. Those days will soon come to an end as Minnesota prepares for its MLS move next year.

Until then, the clubs still have at least two regular season meetings to play before they say their final goodbyes.

The Cosmos host this weekend’s clash between the two sides, and points are at a premium for both as the final stretch of the Fall Season heats up. New York needs to take care of business at home to maintain its precarious lead in the Fall Season and combined standings over FC Edmonton in Indy Eleven.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is desperate for a three-point result to further solidify its hold on fourth place in the combined standings. A win this weekend could also potentially lift the Loons to third in the fall standings, just four points of the Cosmos.

Both sides enter the weekend on impressive unbeaten runs, but the Cosmos have found the most success with four wins in their last five matches. Last week’s 1-o win over Rayo OKC was only Minnesota’s second in in the last five.


Match Information

Saturday, August 10, 7 p.m. ET. Shuart Stadium

TV/Streaming: ONE World Sports, oneworldsports.com

Referee: Alejandro Mariscal

Last Meeting: Cosmos L, 1-0


Cosmos’ attack vs. Minnesota’s defense

Minnesota hasn’t exactly been known for stout defending over the past few years, but the club is on a terrific run on that side of the ball in recent weeks. The current five-game unbeaten streak is largely owed to the club only allowing one goal in that stretch. The back line has come through despite some tinkering due to a lengthy recovery for preferred right back Kevin Venegas. Veteran Jeb Brovsky has done well filling in at right back in the last two matches, but the Loons could now call upon recent loanee Chris Klute if they want a better two-way threat at the position.

While the Loons have found a nice groove defensively, the Cosmos have reached a whole new level in the attack. Jairo Arrieta, Lucky Mkosana and Yasmani Duk have all proven to be dangerous options when given the chance and should be enough to trouble Minnesota’s athletic back line of Damion Lowe, Brent Kallman and Justin Davis more than they have been recently. The Cosmos have yet to be blanked at home this year.

Advantage: Cosmos


Minnesota’s attack vs. Cosmos’ defense

When he has the service, Christian Ramirez is without question the most lethal forward in the NASL. He’s had enough quality service from his teammates this year to lead the NASL with 14 goals, but there have been long stretches between tallies for Ramirez.

Ramirez’s nose for finding the goal against the Cosmos could spell trouble for a back line in need of consistency. Ayoze’s first-half injury in last week’s draw with the Strikers is a major concern. The return of David Diosa from suspension should provide cover at left back and allow Jimmy Mulligan to stay at right back if Ayoze is out. Getting David Ochieng back is also a much-needed boost in central defense. Roversio has yet to show he’s fit enough to play a full match and Ochieng’s athleticism could keep Ramirez at bay. Constant domination in possession has smoothed over much of New York’s defensive weaknesses this year.

Advantage: Minnesota


Midfields

New York’s total outclassing of opponents in midfield over the past month has allowed them to control virtually every minute they’ve played. The Cosmos haven’t started two defensive-minded midfielders much in the fall, but that could change given the unique threat posed by Minnesota’s attack. Partnering Adam Moffat and Danny Szetela up to shield the back line and help break up Minnesota’s rhythm is a possibility. Juan Arango and Ruben Bover have offered a solid central attacking duo as of late, although Andres Flores could be in line for some minutes after his return from World Cup Qualifying.

Minnesota has plenty of attacking options in midfield. Danny Cruz is unlikely due to an ankle injury, but central playmaker Ben Speas and winger Lance Laing are more than capable of providing a spark. After a rocky first half of the year, Laing especially seems to have finally found solid ground. Aaron Pitchkolan has been the go-to holding midfielder over the past few weeks after Ibson’s red card suspension.

Slight Advantage: Cosmos


Coaches

Gio Savarese has worked wonders with a squad that has been tested by injury, international call ups and surprise transfers. He’s found a way to get the attack to gel regardless of who is on the field and, perhaps more importantly, he’s managed to cover up significant defensive weaknesses.

Minnesota’s Carl Craig has been even more hamstrung by injury in his first year in charge. He has a playoff berth within reach, but the team could use more cohesion between the midfield and Ramirez in order to start turning draws into more wins.

Advantage: Cosmos


X-factor

The Cosmos appear to have revived the late-game magic that carried them through to last year’s championship. Their defeat at Minnesota in the final moments was one of many results they let slip away in the spring, but they’ve seemingly turned the corner. With 11 goals now scored by the resurgent attack in the final 15 minutes this year, closing out a match against the Cosmos is no easy task.


Prediction: 2-2