Soccer MPR — September 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

Cosmos Earn First Home Win



NEW YORK – The New York Cosmos netted twice in the opening 45 minutes to kick off the second half of the NASL Fall Season with a 2-0 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on a hot and humidSaturday night at James M. Shuart Stadium.

The home side threatened early, with captain Carlos Mendes finding himself open in the box following a free kick in the 11th minute, but his low effort was saved by Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky. The home side continued its pursuit of an opening goal, and was rewarded for its efforts in 17th minute when forward Danny Mwanga latched onto a Cosmos free kick and poked home off the post past Contofalsky.

“As soon as it hit the post I could see that it was over the line,” said Mwanga of his first goal with the team. “I was just very happy that the ref was able to see it as well.”

Chances came at both ends of the field following the goal, as both New York and Fort Lauderdale grew into the match. Cosmos forward Mads Stokkelien forced Contofalsky off his line to cover up a loose ball in the 24th minute, while Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer had to be equally alert at the other end as he was forced into action just three minutes later. The Cosmos continued to dominate in possession, creating wave after wave of meaningful attacks, and they doubled their advantage thanks to a Marcos Senna penalty strike in the 30th minute. The spot kick was awarded after Strikers captain Ivan Guerrero was called for a handball in the box.

The second half began much as the first ended, with New York creating quality chances for Stokkelien in the 55th and 60th minutes, but both of the Norwegian’s headers went wide of the Fort Lauderdale goal. In the 64th minute, Cosmos left back Connor Lade gave a strong challenge to Strikers forward Darnell King in the box, but Referee Jorge Gonzalez waived away the claims of a penalty.

King forced Maurer into a great save in the 71st minute, earning his team its first corner of the match in the process. King continued to be the Strikers’ greatest threat of getting a goal, and his fantastic cross was nearly nodded home by striker Mark Anderson in the 76th minute. Maurer was once more equal to the effort, stopping the initial header and covering up the rebound.

“We got the three points that we needed more than anything else,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese following the game. “We scored two goals in the first half. We were able to manage the game much better this time than last game, and I think that was the big difference. I’m very pleased with the performance of the players.”

The final chance of the match came to Fort Lauderdale defender Stefan Antonijevic, but his header was parried over by Maurer in the 90th minute following a Strikers free kick on the edge of the area. It was reminiscent of the Cosmos’ match in Indy last Saturday, where they scored two first half goals but ultimately had to settle for a point after conceding an equalizer in stoppage time.

“I think it was a great team effort, and the big difference in this game was that we were able to manage the game a lot better,” said Mwanga after the match. “Last game, we got two goals and gave the lead away [against Indy]. We watched video, and learned from our mistakes. We were very focused and tuned in to try and close the game out.”

The Cosmos will look to make it two in a row next Saturday, Sept. 13, when they take on the Atlanta Silverbacks at Shuart Stadium at 7 p.m.


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