The New York Cosmos took to the pitch in Brooklyn on Friday, taking on the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds and prevailing 2-0. The tune-up was the first chance Cosmos fans had to see their team kick a ball in the new year and the first opportunity to observe the new players to join the club since the end of last season.
One of the first things we noticed were the new Under Armour balls being discussed around the league. Of course, between the recent Empire of Soccer report and photos from the Chicago NASL event, these are all but a done deal.
A starting XI comprised mostly of starting players from last season started the first half for the Cosmos. A few new players were tossed into the mix: Juan Arango, Michael Lahoud.
Despite having the bulk of possession and keeping LIU’s chances limited, the Cosmos were unable to get on the scoreboard, the closest chance coming from an open Roversio header that sailed over the cross bar.
Observations on this squad:
Good to see Roversio healthy and looking very fit. Carlos Mendes also looked strong and both Hunter Freeman and Ayoze looked aggressive throughout the match. Lahoud took the spot vacated by Marcos Senna and really seemed to pair up well with Danny Szetela. Ruben Bover looked great. He worked well on the left side to create some chances and I feel he’s always dependable. Juan Arango didn’t make much of an impact, but it’s hard to make a judgement after a half of soccer.
A different XI took the pitch in the second half where we got our first look at Jairo Arrieta, Yohandry Orozco, Eric Calvillo, Alexis Velela, and Niko Kranjčar.
Early in the second half, Andres Flores fought his way past two defenders into the right side of the box and centered a ball into the path of Arrieta who slammed it in for the opening goal.
Flores almost poached a goal of his own later on, as he curled a ball from the right side of the box and just missed the top corner on the left by inches. Sebastian Guenzatti nearly got one as the result of a mix-up before he one-timed a loose ball and forced a big save from the LIU keeper. Kranjčar nearly opened his account when his tap-in on a Flores corner was cleared off the line.
Kranjčar finally got on the board when he picked up a cleared ball at the top of the box, faked a shot and cut back to lose a defender, then put one past the keeper towards the end of the match.
Observations for the second group:
Orozco, Flores, Guenzatti, and Arrieta all seemed to combine exceptionally well for continuing pressure on the LIU defensive third. Kranjčar and Orozco’s movements were interesting to monitor, as well. While both contributed to the attack continuously, they were observed on the back line at points. Kranjčar seemed to have the roaming license granted to Raul and Senna, but took it to another level. Jimmy Mulligan contributed heavily and was called upon often on the attack. Arrieta was not shy at all about pulling the trigger, as he did repeatedly, It was a nice change from previous matches where strikers have seemed hesitant to pull the trigger. Brian Holt did a great job, as well, when he was forced into a double, possibly triple, close-range save (bad angle to watch it) on the same play.
I still think this team is not complete. But Arrieta is definitely a strong option up front and our midfield is DEEP. So many options there and a lot of good chemistry. Really looking forward to the preseason matches and what options Gio decides to move forward with.
Luis pretty much summed it up. This was a great match, lots of positives to take from it. Few things from my end:
Orozco can flat out ball. Even with his reported lack of playing time in recent months, he came out strong, fast, and worked his tail off for every ball. Jairo Arrieta is not shy at pulling the trigger at all and is a workhorse up front. Really positive performance from him. Michael Lahoud was outstanding next to Danny, and the other new signings look good, especially the U-17 Nats. In addition, I’m very excited about Kranjčar. Who knows where he’s at contractually, but his “trial” here is off to a flying start. He sat farther back than I expected, but he did very very well.
All in all, I can’t really point to a player that I was outright disappointed with. As Luis said, this team isn’t complete yet, but boy is it getting close. Another bonafide striker up top and a solid rotating back line player, and this will be a team to be reckoned with. On to Cali!