With the #1 seed and home field advantage guaranteed, the Cosmos not only changed some of their starters, they also changed their formation from their typical 4-1-4-1 to a more defensive-minded 4-2-3-1.
Jimmy Maurer was back in net after a break last week with Jimmy Mulligan back in the right back role.
Adam Moffat was not in the 18 as Danny Szetela and Eric Calvillo partnered up as holding mids.
Further up, Juan Arango received the night off as Yohandry Orozco, Ruben Bover, and Andres Flores filled out the attacking portion of the midfield.
Yasmani Duk got the nod up top.
Chances piled up on both ends. Danny Cruz missed a wide-open net on one end while David Ochieng had a header blocked and Yasmani Duk’s low shot was saved by Sammy Ndjock.However, both teams entered the locker rooms scoreless.
The Cosmos finally broke through in the 49th minute. Ayoze, on the left side of the box, had his legs taken out in a tackle, but recovered enough to regain his footing and cross the ball into the box. Calvillo, left alone on the far post, smashed a header past Minnesota keeper Sammy Ndjock to open it up.
Minutes later, Yasmani Duk nearly doubled the lead when his initial shot, saved by Ndjock, came back to him and he smacked it off the upright.Minnesota came roaring back with a number of chances that included forcing a goal line clearance from Mulligan after a ball squeaked through Maurer’s hands.
Despite the flurry of determined attacks from Minnesota United, the Cosmos would hold the scoreline at 1-0, ending 2016 on a three-game winning streak and six-game unbeaten streak. They also end the fall with the best road record in the NASL (5-3-3) and second-best road record of the year (6-3-7).
By defeating United, the Cosmos also ensured a difficult playoff battle at home next weekend against Rayo OKC, an opponent who’s given them trouble all year.
You can watch highlights of the match below.