“More important than winning was to have the opportunity to rotate our squad and gain momentum,” said Cosmos Head Coach Giovanni Savarese. “The 2017 Season will start in less than a month, so we will continue working hard to improve as much as we can to be ready for our first match.”`
The Cosmos started the match with a 4-2-3-1 that saw many confirmed players, with two exceptions: long-rumored Italian signing Mario Marchionni and Argentine winger Emmanuel Ledesma.
The Cosmos quietly held the advantage over Atlantico, but a few audacious attempts burst through the run of play. David Ochieng lost a mark early in the 18 yard box, which resulted in the only clear cut chance for the home side in the first 45 minutes. Later, Danny Szetela attempted a volley outside the box that mirrored Christian Ramirez’s effort against Carolina to open the 2016 NASL campaign. Unlike Ramirez, however, Szetela’s shot sailed just wide. Shortly after, Flores was given the best chance yet for the Cosmos, being left one on one with the Atlantico goalkeeper Geancarlos Martinez. Attempting to round Martinez, Flores was dispossessed without an attempt on target.
There was more oddities in the tactics and shirts of the Cosmos than the actual first half, however. Walter Restrepo was seen with the #7 shirt, with Amauri sporting Andrea Mancini’s #8 and Carlos Mendes showing off a #12 kit on his back.
Tactically, Mario Marchionni’s role in Giovanni Savarese’s system seems to mirror one Spaniard Ruben Bover held back in his time in green and white. Listed in a central defensive mid pairing, Marchionni would often join Restrepo forward, essentially crunching the Cosmos lines into a 4-2-3-1. Similarly, Ledesma would often track back and roam into a pairing with a Szetela in a double-pivot style system. Ledesma, with the 18 number on his back, was certainly a more attacking option than it’s previous owner, Juan Arango.
The second half for the Cosmos brought much more unfamiliarity than the first. Four trialists featured, including a right back that is related to a youth-program leader for the Cosmos.
A more even affair that the first half, the Cosmos were able to pull off a winning goal thanks to one of their favorite circumstances: a dead ball situation. Set just outside the 18-yard box, Venezuelan newcomer Juan Guerra curled the ball up and over the wall, sailing just past the keeper to secure the victory for the Cosmos.
With a decent preseason victory in a books, there’s still five trialists to discuss that featured.
Emmanuel Ledesma – The Argentine forward is currently a free agent after last playing for Greek club Panetolikos. Previously, Ledesma has bounced around Italy and England, featuring for Genoa, QPR, Middlesborough, and Brighton and Hove Albion. Between Paneltolikos and Brentford, Ledesma has notched two goals and three assists in thirteen matches thus far this season. The 28-year-old has netted 17 total goals since 2008.Mario Marchionni – The Italian veteran, long rumored to be on his way to New York, has now met up with the team in the Dominican Republic. The 36-year-old winger last played for US Latina Calcio in Serie B and has earned six caps with the Italian National Team. The former Juventus winger enjoyed his best run of form at Parma, scoring 13 goals in 112 appearances in a 5-year stint.
Taylor Peay – Peay, the 26th overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by the Portland Timbers, has spent his rookie year on loan at Orange County Blues, where he made 24 appearances and scored 1 goal. Since then, the 25-year old defender has been sparsely used, logging 7 appearances in MLS. Additionally, he has four US Open Cup and two CONCACAF Champions League matches under his belt. Peay left after rejecting a “bona fide offer” from the Timbers in January.
Eugene Starikov – You can read more about the Ukranian-American winger in our piece here.
Kalif Alhassan – Previously spotted at training, Alhassan has followed the Cosmos south for preseason. Alhassan started 13 of 17 appearances last year with the Rowdies, logging three assists, but slipping down the depth chart. However, he was with Minnesota United in 2015 where he started 22 of 27 games with four goals and six assists. He spent the four seasons prior to that with the Portland Timbers.