By DAN KARELL
Returning home for the first time since their opening match, the New York Cosmos followed nearly the same script as their first win of the season.
On Saturday evening, substitute Henry Lopez played the hero, heading home a goal in stoppage-time to give the Cosmos a 2-1 victory over the San Antonio Scorpions at Shuart Stadium. It was Lopez’s first goal of the season.
With two players missing due to red card suspensions and another to injury, Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese made four changes for the side that lost to the Carolina RailHawks, giving midfielder Danny Szetela his first professional start since October 25, 2009. Szetela slotted in next to Marcos Senna, while Roversio and Hagop Chirishian each made their first starts of the year as well.
The Cosmos opened the match on the front foot, but couldn’t seem find any teammates in the box on a number of occasions. Finally, after a number of close opportunities, winger Diomar Diaz was at the right place at the right time to end the team’s 222 minute scoreless streak.
Following a scrum in the box in the 42nd minute, Diaz put his right foot through the ball with a blast into the top corner, giving his side a lead just before halftime.
The match fell even more into the Cosmos favor early in the second half when Scorpions midfielder Pat Phelan limped off with an injury in the 51st minute, and seconds later, defender Greg Janicki was shown a second yellow card and was sent off for a reckless challenge.
Despite being down a man, the Scorpions seemed to play even better following the red card. Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was forced to make two close-range stops on the Scorpions star forward Hans Denissen within minutes of each other, and in the 64th minute, his teammate Tomasz Zahorski arrived in front of goal and chested home into an empty net to tie the match.
Pushing everything forward late into the match to score a winner, Marcos Senna sent a looping header into the center of the box from the left, allowing the Guatemalan international Lopez to run onto it and power a header past Scorpions goalkeeper Pat Hannigan for the game-winning goal in the second minute of stoppage time.