Preview: New York Cosmos at San Antonio Scorpions

IMAGE, ADAM HUNGER/NEW YORK COSMOS

by JAKE NUTTING

The New York Cosmos will play their final road match of the regular season on Saturday at the site of their semifinal exit from last year’s postseason. The stakes are much lower for the San Antonio Scorpions this time around as they were officially eliminated from the chase for the final playoff spot after their scoreless draw with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Wednesday.

The Cosmos still have plenty on the line in their remaining two matches. They already locked up their postseason berth by winning the Spring Season title, but they now trail the Fall Season champion Ottawa Fury FC by five points in the race for the top seed and home field advantage. New York has a game in hand on the Fury, who will close out their regular season in Atlanta next weekend.

Saturday will be the first time that New York has faced a team already eliminated from the playoff race. They hold the advantage over the Scorpions this year with two convincing wins, but this will be their first road trip to the Alamo City.

It’s all about pride for the Scorpions this weekend. They’ve followed up last year’s Soccer Bowl victory with a vastly disappointing season, so knocking off a playoff bound team at home is the best chance they have at ending on a positive note.

San Antonio will need to find their finishing touch if they wish to have any shot at competing with the Cosmos. The Scorpions bolster some impressive attacking talent, but have gone scoreless in their last two matches. Omar Cummings still leads the club with 10 goals even though the forward has not tallied a goal in 12 straight matches. Recent addition Kris Tyrpak has shown to be a serious threat up top with two stellar goals in only four appearances.

An Under the Radar Race: While the Cosmos are hoping to overtake the Fury for the top playoff seed, Jimmy Maurer also has an outside shot at surpassing Ottawa’s Romuald Peiser in the Golden Glove race. Thanks to two straight shutouts, Maurer’s goals against average has crept back down to 0.96. Peiser, though, has a seemingly insurmountable lead with a GAA of 0.76..

Fitness Factor: A bye week can take a toll on a team’s momentum, though the benefit to fitness is beyond doubt. The Cosmos were dealt a hectic few months full of three-match weeks and weeknight battles that undoubtedly took a toll. Veterans Raul and Marcos Senna should be well rested for the final two matches and the push to surpass Ottawa. Centerback Roversio has also resumed full training after his injury from August, while Adam Moffat is unfortunately done for the year.

The Hot Feet: A shaky stretch of matches where the Cosmos were left frustrated trying to find the back of the net was snapped by two consecutive three-goal showings before the bye. After weeks of lagging production from the entire midfield, Sebastian Guenzatti emerged as a starter with a goal in each of those matches. Fall Season signing Gaston Cellerino also shined in the recent victories, with a goal and two assists. It will be interesting to see who can establish themselves as the regular starter up top before the postseason. Cellerino still has two games to make his case over Lucky Mkosana, who has been the team’s workhorse for much of the season.