The Cosmos shut out the Ottawa Fury by a definitive score of 3-0 in the first rematch between the two clubs since the NASL Championship Final last November. While the win would push the Cosmos to the top of the table after Week 1, it also presented some questions on how the team would adapt to recent changes to the line-up. It would also provide some solutions.
Shuart Stadium had a different look with a portion of the stadium closed off and player benches moved to the opposite side of the field. It wasn’t the only thing with a different look as the two clubs that took the pitch looked very different from the sides last November (only 3 Fury and 5 Cosmos from that match in last night’s starting XI). For most Cosmos supporters, it would also be the first time seeing the team play without Marcos Senna on the roster.
While the Fury earned their first corner within the first 30 seconds of the match, the Cosmos controlled most of the early stages, repeatedly testing 2015 Golden Glove winner Romuald Peiser, including an early double save to knock the ball away. The Fury would often throw superior numbers at the Cosmos in their defensive area, but experienced difficulty in consistently clearing the ball.
The Fury would find chances of their own. A Carlos Mendes back pass to Jimmy Maurer was nearly picked by Gerardo Bruna and Jimmy Ockford was beaten by his man in the 15th who settled a ball for a teammate that was nearly poked in until Ockford managed to just clear it out from the ground.
Peiser displayed a willingness to come off his line early and challenge any potential threat. This habit and some poor decision-making would cost him. In the 36th minute, Jairo Arrieta would make a move on the right side tapping a ball past Lance Rozeboom into the box. Peiser would race out, but it wasn’t even close as Arrieta centered a pass to a waiting Juan Arango in the middle of the box. With only Rafael Alves in the way, he easily found the right side of the net and the Cosmos’ first goal.
The French keeper would fall victim to another play from the right just two minutes later as Sebastian Guenzatti received a ball on the right from Hunter Freeman. While centering it, a diving Peiser got hands on it, but knocked it to the feet of Arango who slotted in another.
“Any player dreams of having a great debut,” Arango said. “Even better when you can score two goals. It’s a dream.”
Arango nearly completed a hat trick in the 41st as Freeman found him on the left side just outside the six and his shot was barely tipped away by Peiser. The keeper would come up big moments later as he managed to strip a ball from a racing Andres Flores.
Minutes into the second half, the Cosmos were the recipients of a pair of yellows for tackles, the first to Ruben Bover and the other to Guenzatti. Minutes later Bover would come off for Adam Moffat. The Cosmos’ sub followed a dual sub by the Fury where Idan Vered and Johnny Steele would come in for Dennis Chin and Mozzi Gyorio, respectively. A final yellow card came for the Cosmos in the 70th, when a late Arrieta tackle on Kyle Porter earned him a yellow.
The final Cosmos tally came in the 71st when Flores attempted to drive a long ball to the right side and a waiting Arango. Peiser came running out and slid out of his box to clear it, right to Moffat who one-timed it from over 40 yards out.
“I panicked a little bit,” admitted the holding mid. “When it comes to you like that, there’s so many things going through your mind. Do I take a touch? I didn’t take a touch did I? I don’t even remember, see? Or do you hit it hard? I kind of composed myself a little bit and thought I’d try to use the wind a little bit to guide it over there. Maybe finesse, we’ll call it. I don’t usually do that, I just usually try to hit it as hard as I can.”
Bover had praise for the player returning from injury.
“It was great. He was a long time injured like I was last year, but he’s been fighting and he deserved it,” said the Spaniard. “He brought us a lot of energy, a lot of experience there, so it was great to see him score that goal.”
A few more subs rounded out the match. James Bailey entered for Ottawa and Canadian MNT captain Julian de Guzman. Niko Kranjčar entered in the 77th minute to the delight of a large, Croatian contingent there to see him. Arango came out. The Cosmos’ final sub was Lucky Mkosana for Arrieta in the 86th.
In the 88th, the Cosmos nearly found a fourth goal after Kranjčar poached a ball in midfield and set up Guenzatti by the right corner for a cross that just evaded Mkosana and Flores.
In the end, though, the Cosmos were happy with the end result.
“Ottawa had chances. Some because they earned it, some because I feel we could have done a little better,” said Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese on the evening. “I think it was a good performance, I think we can still improve, but I think overall, it was a positive start.”
- Two goals were good enough to earn Juan Arango Emirates Man of the Match.
- Jimmy Maurer was rarely challenged in the back, but did have to come up big on a few moments to earn his 24th shutout for the club.
- Danny Szetela is still coming back from injury and was left out of the 18. “It’s always difficult not to have him because he’s an important player as well but, at this point, he’s not ready to play.”
- Gio feels the club has more depth this year. “We have guys still that didn’t come into the game like [Yohandry] Orozco that can provide very good things or guys like [Danny] Szetela who wasn’t even in the 18,” he stated. “I like to see some guys who aren’t happy they didn’t play because they want to play.”
- A visa issue has kept Yasmani Duk away from the team and out of the country. “He’s still in Bolivia, getting his visa. We hope to have him back next week and then he will be another player battling for a position.”
- 36’ – Juan Arango (Jairo Arrieta)
- 38’ – Juan Arango
- 71’ – Adam Moffat
- 56’ – Ruben Bover
- 60’ – Sebastian Guenzatti
- 70’ – Jairo Arrieta
- 61’ – Idan Vered for Dennis Chin (Ottawa)
- 61’ – Jonny Steele for Mozzi Gyorio (Ottawa)
- 63’ – Adam Moffat for Ruben Bover (New York)
- 76’ – James Bailey for Julian de Guzman (Ottawa)
- 77’ – Niko Krancjar in for Juan Arango (New York)
- 86’ – Lucky Mkosana in for Jairo Arrieta (New York)
If you listened to last weeks show, you will note I predicted this score. OK, I will stop.
This was a great start for the Cosmos and it showed just how good the team can be this year. However, there are still areas of improvement which we can touch upon when we record later in the week.
I will say, I loved what I saw from Arrrieta and, of course, Arango. I will be very interested to see Orozco get his chances.
Glad to see Moffat come back.
I will get into the play and much more on the show. Make sure you listen.