The New York Cosmos stayed perfect in the fall with their third straight win, defeating the Jacksonville Armada 3-0. With that result, the Cosmos remain atop the fall and combined tables holding two point leads over the Indy 11 in both.
For the third straight match, head coach Giovanni Savarese made changes to the lineup but, this time, also made a change to the overall formation, switching back to the 4-2-3-1 used heavily last season.
Adam Moffat also got the nod, becoming the additional defensive mid in the “2”.
On the attacking side of the midfield, Andres Flores started on the right and, in a surprise, David Diosa got the start on the left side.
The Armada also employed a 4-2-3-1 with former Cosmos midfielder Jemal Johnson getting the start and Sean Lewis appearing to solidify his position as a starter in the goal.
The match kicked off with a scare for the Cosmos as Kevan George volleyed a Johnson pass into the back of the net, but was whistled offsides. From that point on, the half went the Cosmos’ way.
The tenth minute nearly brought a goal from a surprise candidate, Jimmy Maurer. His kick landed in the Armada box where Lewis watched it take a hop over him and head towards an empty net. Only a dash by Lewis and a punch away from the net saved the Armada from going down on a fluke.
Diosa was the next to test the Armada keeper as he received a pass from Lucky at midfield, burst through three defenders, and chipped a ball on net that required a backwards dive from Lewis to keep out of the net.
The Armada suffered a setback as Alex Dixon was forced to leave the match in the 23rd after colliding with Maurer and landing awkwardly. He spent several minutes down on the pitch and was assisted by the medical staff from both clubs before being subbed off for Charles Eloundou.
The Cosmos finally struck four minutes later. Juan Arango spotted Mkosana at the edge of the box who got low to stick a foot out and put it into the path of Flores who had a clear run at the net and did not miss. The goal was “El Ruso’s” first of the year.
Some aggressive keeping from Maurer earned him a yellow in the 33rd. He left his box to attempt to clear a ball to Eloundou deep on the right side, a strange decision with the amount of defenders available. His missed kick on the ball and collision with the forward resulted in the booking.
Maurer got a chance to redeem himself a minute later as George put a header on net, forcing a big save from the keeper.
The Cosmos had another reason to celebrate in the 36th as David Diosa picked up his first goal of the season. Flores delivered a perfect cross into the box and behind Lewis that Diosa reached first, volleying it into a wide-open net for the 2-0 lead.
“I just had to touch the ball,” said Diosa later with a laugh. “It’s crazy because Andres actually assisted me last year too, on my only goal.”
The second half took a decidedly slower pace. Jacksonville made its two remaining subs before the 70th minute, bringing on Jason Plumhoff, recently acquired in a trade with Edmonton, for Jemal Johnson. They later added Pascal Millien for Matt Bahner.
Andres Flores left the match with an injury for Yohandry Orozco before a hard foul on David Diosa just three minutes later had him exit for Sebastian Guenzatti.
New York struck for the final time in the 79th minute after Adam Moffat made a tackle on Millien outside the Armada box, stripped him of the ball, then ripped a shot to the top left corner that Lewis had no chance to save.
Lucky Mkosana made a bid to make it four goals in the 88th, heading a ball to top center of goal, but Lewis was up for this one, getting the save.
New York made its final substitution for the night in the 90th as Eric Calvillo came on for Danny Szetela, marking his first NASL appearance.
Despite being down 3-0, the Armada did their best to spoil the shutout as Junior Sandoval got past Hunter Freeman and put a header on Maurer from point-blank range, forcing a tremendous foot save for the keeper.
With the win now in the books, the Cosmos will now play three on the road at Rayo OKC, Tampa Bay, and Edmonton in what is sure to be a challenging stretch for them.