Preview: New York Cosmos face Strikers in Ft. Lauderdale

Mendes Savarese Senna Cosmos

By ANTHONY J. MERCED
Staff Writer

It can be argued that the New York Cosmos have played better soccer on the road this year than at home.

Whether that means Hofstra is not a proper fit is a point to be debated, but one thing that is certain is that it doesn’t bode well for a sputtering Fort Lauderdale team. The Strikers have been abysmal this season, losing both games in the Fall Season without scoring a single goal. To make matters worse, the Cosmos crushed them in the Spring Season by three goals.

Anyone would be hard pressed not to pick the Cosmos to walk away with the win yet again in Florida.

Hans Sparks Cosmos Offense but Results Are Needed

Hans Denissen finally started a game for the Cosmos. That in and of itself feels like a miracle. He was also incredibly effective at creating opportunities. While the Cosmos may have only scored one goal against Ottawa, his shot off of the post was one of the more creative and attractive plays the team has produced all year. With Mads Stokklien seemingly disappearing week after week, Hans will become an important part in steadying an extremely inconsistent Cosmos offense.

Last year, he scored 16 goals, becoming the second highest goal scorer in the league. Should he produce even half of that over the Fall Season, he would easily become the team’s best striker. With Marcos Senna also returning, the potential for brilliant interplay and highlight reel goals become a very realistic possibility.

Defense Wins Championships

In week one, the Cosmos relinquished three goals in one game. That was something they hadn’t done all year. In fact, the tally matched their goals-against for the entire Spring season. In Ottawa, the much lauded defense returned, although not to complete effectiveness. They definitely surrendered their fair share of opportunities but the team never cracked under the pressure.

In the end New York racked up yet another clean sheet. The questions have been asked as to whether or not Jimmy Okford would become a permanent member of the Cosmos as his addition would solidify an aging back line. If it’s possible, it would be yet another strong signing in a year where each move makes more sense than headlines. Unfortunately, he will be absent from this weekend’s match due to concussion concerns.

Gio Savarese has definitely been a man of little words and more action. That has been shown to great effect with the strong defense his team has put forward. At their best, they have been a steel curtain in front of Jimmy Maurer. Even at their weakest, they make NASL striker’s work overtime in order to score goals. This type of air tight defense is what may end up solidifying the Cosmos trip to the playoffs — and what may ultimately give them their second NASL Championship.

Where Does Flores Fit In?

Andres Flores has to be seen as a direct competitor to Noselli and Stokkelien. The young El Salvadoran striker has an infinite amount of potential. He may not be fit to start just yet, but should the offense find itself in another labored stretch, Flores could easily find himself as Savarese’s number one option. The youngster will definitely bring a burst of speed and should absorb information from the veteran side rather quickly.

For a striker, goals are a very easy way to show your worth. Should he put a few in the back of the net, the Cosmos should have a very happy problem on their hands of who to start in the coming weeks.

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Overall, Fort Lauderdale shouldn’t be a tremendous problem for the Cosmos. Considering their success in Florida over the last year, they should be able to return to New York with a full six points after a challenging travel schedule.