The Cosmos followed up a shutout over Ottawa with another over Jacksonville, posting a 2-0 win. After a hand in creating two goals last week, Jairo Arrieta opened his account while Adam Moffat entered as a second-half sub and found a goal for the second consecutive week.
The Cosmos entered with the familiar 4-1-4-1 formation they employed last week.
There were only two differences in this lineup from last week’s match against the Fury. First, Niko Kranjčar was started instead of Andres Flores. He occupied the left inside spot of the four-man midfield line while Ruben Bover was pushed wide left into the spot occupied by Flores last week.
The rest of the line-up looked the same, including last week’s rocky center back pairing of Carlos Mendes and Jimmy Ockford.
Lahoud stayed in the one-man holding spot, despite Moffat’s wonder-goal last week.
The Armada entered with a greatly overhauled team from 2015. Trinidad & Tobago international midfielder Kevan George’s signing was announced earlier in the day and he was on the starting XI before day’s end. In total, only four starters from the 2015 Armada found themselves starting the match: Alhassane Keita, Pascal Millien, Mechack Jérôme, and Miguel Gallardo.
The Cosmos first chance came in the fourth when Guenzatti tried to one-hit a ball poorly cleared by the Armada defense, but was unable to hit it properly and watched it go wide.
Close chances followed for both in the tenth minute as a Mike Lahoud back pass to Maurer was nearly poached by Richie Ryan and Jairo Arrieta’s shot from an acute angle on the left just skipped over the crossbar.
A wide-open header in the 19th by Pascal Millien would fly high over the bar, just one of the many opportunities the Armada would not put on frame, ending the night with only one shot on goal.
The Cosmos finally found a goal in the 29th minute. A Cosmos free kick from Jimmy Maurer was headed on into the box by Juan Arango. Jairo Arrieta ran into the ball, slipping between Bryan Burke and Jérôme, and one-timed it towards Gallardo, who managed to kill some of its momentum as it dipped underneath him, but the ball still maintained enough momentum to roll across the line before he could clear it.
The Cosmos continued to keep the Armada quiet for the half as they marched to halftime with the 1-0 lead, with close chances coming late in the half as Ayoze barely beat Alex Dixon to a ball, clearing it just past him and Hunter Freeman put a shot into the arms of Gallardo.
The half ended with the injury of Ruben Bover, the recipient of a Keita tackle. Keita came in with a wild tackle from behind, connecting with the ankle of Bover’s planted foot and wrapping around the ankle of the other with both legs. He received a yellow for his action, which arguably could have been a red, and Bover hobbled out of the match to end the half.
Much like last week, Moffat would be called upon to step in for Bover in the second half.
The Arango/Arrieta chemistry nearly paid off again as the Venezuelan crossed a ball into the six that Arrieta just couldn’t reach in time in the 49th minute.
Six minutes later, Moffat struck again. Kranjčar received a pass at the top, middle of the 18. Drawing triple coverage, he slid the ball left to a wide open Moffat for a one-timer to the right side and past a diving Gallardo.
The Armada made a pair of signings in the minutes that followed. Charles Eloundou, the Cameroonian ex-trialist, entered for Alhassane Keita and Honduran international Junior Sandoval entered for Alex Dixon.
The Cosmos turned up the intensity with a chance that just missed in the 61st. Adam Moffat managed a beautiful cross from the right side endline, floating it to the head of Ockford who headed it down across the mouth of the net, but the bouncing ball just evaded an open Arrieta and Mendes before being cleared.
The only shot on goal from the Armada for the evening would follow in the 64th with Eloundou’s weak shot being grabbed by Maurer. Eloundou would get an additional chance in the 77th when his wide-open look at the net resulted in shot wide and out of bounds.
Kranjčar just missed putting himself on the score sheet in the 68th when a pass to him a little over 25 yards away from goal arrived from Lahoud. He turned and fired, just missing wide. He would exit the match minutes later, allowing in Andres Flores.
Moffat came close with a chance as Arango served a ball into the 18 for him. Moffat ran into it, but put too much power on it sending it high over the bar.
The Cosmos used their final sub in the 79th removing Seba Guenzatti, with a bleeding finger, for Yohandry Orozco, giving the young Venezuelan his first appearance of 2016.
The Armada came close to jumping on the board in the 82nd when Maurer, running forward to scoop a ball, couldn’t hold onto it as he evaded a charging Matt Fondy and fell, sending the ball to Sandoval who fired it high and wide for another missed chance.
The final Armada sub, Shawn Nicklaw, made his way on in the final minutes of the game for Kevan George. Moments later, Arango nearly got on the board for the second consecutive match when Arrieta drew four defenders, then fed a ball to Arango at the top of the box. Arango’s shot caught the heel of Bryan Burke, re-directed past a committed Gallardo, hit the crossbar and landed in the 6 for Gallardo to scoop up.
Arrieta would take the last notable action, earning a yellow card for a takedown on Richie Ryan.
Definitely a night full of positives. The shutout win puts the Cosmos top of the table. Jimmy Maurer earned his 25th shutout and Arrieta opened his account.
The only downsides? The Ruben Bover injury, of course. The other? The attendance. With an announced attendance of 5,094 last week, the announced attendance of 3,685 yesterday raised more eyebrows. The Cosmos now travel for two weeks. Hopefully, they’ll find a way to pack Hofstra by then.