By DAN KARELL
In a game where the New York Cosmos had fewer chances than their opponents, the Cosmos held strong to finish the game as winners.
Using a second half goal from Paulo Mendes, the Cosmos battled to a 1-0 victory at Minnesota United FC on Saturday evening at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The win extended the Cosmos lead to seven points at the top of the North American Soccer League standings as well as extending the club’s winning streak to four games and unbeaten run to seven.
(Minnesota United) tried a lot of times to stretch us out but our guys were able to close the spaces very well and we were able to go forward, be dangerous, and find a goal that gave us the lead and put us in a very good situation to win the game,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese told reporters after the game. “The guys were very focused and in a lot of times were able to stay up at the right time to block shots, take away spaces. Today (the Cosmos) showed a lot of maturity.”
Savarese made just one change from last Sunday’s 4-3 home victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies, bringing in the previously suspended Sebastian Guenzatti in place of Peri Marosevic, who made the bench.
Following a tightly contested first half that included opportunities on goal for both clubs, Mendes came up huge for the Cosmos for the second consecutive week. In his third consecutive start, the Brazilian midfielder Mendes took advantage of a lucky bounce off teammate Stefan Dimitrov, dribbling towards goal before unleashing a vicious strike in the 53rd minute that gave the Cosmos the lead.
“(Mendes) took advantage of the opportunity,” Savarese said. “It was a play in which I think (the ball) hit Dimitrov’s back and both of them were at the same spot, making runs, making it difficult for the defenders. After the rebound came, (Mendes) was very clever to be able to find the space and be very composed to strike a good ball and score a very important goal.”
Manny Lagos’ Minnesota United squad fought bravely for an equalizer, with Pablo Campos, last year’s NASL MVP, heading over from seven yards and in stoppage time taking a touch that just flew over the net.
Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, credited with five saves in the match, picked up his fourth clean sheet of the season in the win, and it was the Cosmos’ second 1-0 victory against Minnesota United this season. The defeat keeps Minnesota on 14 points from 10 games, though it’s still good for second place at the moment.
“I have to especially give a lot of credit to Reynish, who I think came up very very big today to show that he’s a great goalkeeper,” Savarese said.
Here are the game highlights: