The New York Cosmos defeated Rayo OKC 2-1, coming back from a first half deficit to win the match and the right to host the NASL Final at Belson Stadium next week. Venezuelan power was in full effect as Juan Arango and Yohandry Orozco got the goals to advance New York to the title match.
Carlos Mendes started alongside Roversio at center back and Juan Arango returned to the field after a week off.
Rayo OKC threw plenty of weapons at the Cosmos including Billy Forbes, Michel, and Georgios Samaras.
After submitting their starters, they were forced to make a change before the game as midfielder Yuma suffered an injury in practice and was replaced by Tyler Gibson.
The first dangerous chance of the evening was for the home team as Orozco made a move in the box to lose Kimura then centered a ball that was cleared off the line in the 13th minute. Five minutes later, defender Ayoze got a foot on a cross in his own end, pushing the ball towards his own net before Jimmy Maurer tipped it over the bar.
The Cosmos nearly went ahead in the 33rd as Jairo Arrieta nodded a ball at the net and Rayo keeper Daniel Fernandes just got a hand to it, deflecting it up into the crossbar, off the upright, and away from danger.
Rayo battled the half heavily, putting physical pressure on New York and it finally paid off in the 37th minute. Earning a free kick about 35 yards from net, Michel fired a ball into the box that center back Futty Danso just got a touch on with his head. The ball got past Maurer putting them ahead.
The Cosmos nearly equalized in the 45th as Orozco made moves just outside the Rayo six, centering a ball for Flores that he headed at the net just before it was cleared away. They had another opportunity in the 59th when Ayoze fought to keep a ball in play and fired a cross into the box that bounced off defender Jarad Van Schaik and towards the net, into the arms of Fernandes.
Four minutes later, Ayoze was key to another chance as his free kick into the box was nearly buried twice, bouncing around in the Rayo defensive area before just being cleared.The Cosmos finally equalized in the 73rd when an Ayoze corner kick led to yet another Arangol as the Venezuelan’s header sailed into the net.
And then, the Cardiac Cosmos returned.
In the 90th, the Cosmos finally pulled ahead when an Arango cross from the left side of the box reached Orozco in the middle. He promptly put it away, banking it off the right-side upright and in, sending the stadium into delirium.With the win, the Cosmos advance to their third Soccer Bowl trophy game in four years. Their opponent will be the Indy Eleven who won their own semifinal against FC Edmonton earlier in the day and the match will be held at Belson Stadium at St. John’s University in Queens, NY.
You can see more photos of the match at our SmugMug page.
You can watch the highlights below.