HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.– For the first time in three home matches, there was no fairy tale ending.
The New York Cosmos drew the North American Soccer League spring champion Atlanta Silverbacks, 1-1, on Saturday evening in front of 5,598 fans at Shuart Stadium, sending the home side to their second consecutive draw. The result wasn’t for lack of trying, as the Cosmos forced Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco to make an incredible eight saves.
“I think, with the exception of last week, and maybe when we played away to Carolina, every goalkeeper we’ve played against has played the best game of their life,” Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman said after the match. “I guarantee that guy will be on the (NASL) Team of the Week, and maybe will even be (NASL) Player of the Week.”
A wild and frenetic sequence of events ended up in the Cosmos opening goal of the match. A cleared corner kick was chased down by Marcos Senna, who was tackled illegally, in the referee’s opinion, and set up a free kick to the hosts while Pedro Mendes of the Silverbacks was shown a yellow card.
Senna whipped in the free kick that found the head of Carlos Mendes, who’s shot on goal careened off the crossbar and back into play. Stefan Demitrov, making his second straight start, went down in the area under pressure and after a moment of waiting, referee Daniel Radford pointed to the spot.
The former Spain international stepped up in the 44th minute and slotted home to give the Cosmos the lead.
“We feel that we dominated the game from beginning to the end,” Senna said. It’s a shame that we couldn’t finish them off when we had them. We had one shot that went in, and that kind of told the story.”
Only four minutes into the second half, the Silverbacks found themselves level. A free kick by Pablo Cruz on the far side was curled into the area, and defender Shane Moroney aimed a diving header to the far post that went past Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish to tie the score.
Though the Silverbacks looked confident following the goal, the Cosmos worked their way back into the match, and by the 75th minute, the home team looked dangerous when going forward. Substitute Satoru Kashiwase had a chance inside the six-yard box that Nasco parried away. Seconds later, Sebastian Guenzatti blasted a shot on goal that Nasco saved to his left.
“We need to work a little bit more in putting the ball in the net, because we created so many opportunities today and we could have definitely won the game,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said following the match. “The team showed so much composure, so much maturity, and we created a lot of chances today.”
Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes was shown a second yellow and subsequent red card in 90th minute stoppage time, but the Cosmos didn’t have the time to capitalize.
Despite the tie at home and though he admitted that he wasn’t satisfied and happy with the result, Savarese commented that he believed his team played their best match of the season against the NASL spring season champions.
“Every game, the team looks better,” Savarese said. “I think today was probably our best game so far. The way we played was like everything that we worked on. We completely dominated the ball, we created chances, they only had one opportunity which was the goal and it was a free kick, and that’s it. I’ve seen the team mature.”