The Cosmos are currently riding several hot streaks at the midpoint of the fall season. A three-game winning streak, a five-game unbeaten streak, and a 14-game unbeaten streak at home are all currently active for New York. And they will put them all on the line tonight when they take on the team that issued them their first loss of the season and snatched away the 2016 Spring title from them: the Indy Eleven.
Since that loss in the Cosmos’s third game of spring, Indy finished the Spring Season undefeated, taking the Spring title. Indy continued their streak three games into the fall before finally experiencing a loss. Since that first loss, they’ve gone 4-1-3 and experienced the biggest win in their history, beating the Armada 5-2.
Jon Busch has been a rock for Indy in goal, allowing 18 goals in his 20 games for a .90 GAA, good for second in the league and just ahead of Jimmy Maurer.
The back line of choice appears to be Lovel Palmer on the right and Nemanja Vukovic on the left with a center back pairing of Colin Falvey and Greg Janicki. Aside from helping to keep goals permitted down to 18 so far, they’ve also allowed two goals or more in a game only five times this season. Furthermore, Janicki and Vukovic place in the top four goal scorers on the team.
The Cosmos could also have their hands full with a solid midfield to contend with. Options like Don Smart and Dylan Mares on the wings and central options like Brad Ring and Mexican threat Gerardo Torrado will be nothing to take for granted as Indy has shown they can grind out a result.
Up top, we’ve most recently been seeing a consistent pairing of Eamon Zayed and Souleymane Youla, although Omar Gordon got the nod for the last start. Zayed has become a dangerous striking option and could be a challenge to a defense that’s been prone to mistakes, especially considering he’s the second-highest goal scorer in the league.
The Cosmos will feel some pressure with a few key players away.
On the back line, Carlos Mendes has been declared available for the match despite leaving the last one with an injury. This is good news considering the potential loss of David Ochieng as it remains unclear whether he’ll be available or away for an African Cup of Nations qualifier for Kenya. Roversio entered the last match and while Head Coach Giovanni Savarese listed his condition as “week to week”, he may be called upon.
Adam Moffat is set to return from his red card suspension, a nice defensive boost who has proven his worth at the spot, as well. Whether it’s him or Danny Szetela, much responsibility will fall on that individual to support center backs who have sometimes allowed soft goals.
Andres Flores will be a difficult loss to weather as he heads to El Salvador for World Cup qualifiers. His goal and three assists earned him the NASL Player of the Week award and he is not easily replaced. It remains to be seen if Yohandry Orozco will be available. Orozco was recovering from injury and while it was said he might be available last weekend, he was not in the XI or the undermanned bench.
Yasmani Duk will also be away, called away to Bolivia for World Cup qualifiers. However, the offense appears to be surging after Jairo Arrieta and Juan Arango each posted a brace last week.
Possession has always been key in Cosmos matches, although it was split nearly evenly this weekend. What was important was what they did with the possession, firing 22 shots (only the fourth time they’d passed the 20+ mark) and put 13 shots on goal (their highest total to date).
Busch is an excellent keeper but he can make mistakes. Ottawa’s goal in their 1-1 draw with Indy last week came off such a mistake and it would be wise of the Cosmos to test the keeper early and often, something they did not do in their first encounter, managing nine shots, only four of them on goal.
Defensively, it will be clutch to maintain control of the midfield and stop the crosses from Dylan Mares and the play of that supporting cast who will look to feed the dangerous foot of Zayed.
One last important note, although it’s not necessarily definitive. Indy have won 1 of 10 road games this year, have not won in the last eight straight road matches, and are winless in their last two games. After Indy broke the six-game streak of ties between themselves and the Cosmos with a win, New York will have an eye on returning the favor.