Samindra Kunti – Giovanni Savarese spoke to the media ahead of the game with the Carolina Railhawks. There was no surprise in his discourse. “We have another final this weekend. Carolina is a tough team that made it difficult for us when we played them at their home…but our focus has already switched to Carolina and Saturday night,” Savarese said.
The New York Cosmos coach tends to say that every game is a final. It´s a cliché of the kind you´d rather want to avoid in the land of soccer. More so when you follow it up with a statement basking in general emptiness – the opponent is tough and difficult to play.
But top of the league Savarese had a license to voice his opinion. His declarations did reveal a deeper truth. The Cosmos had not yet forgiven the Railhawks for a thumping 3-0 defeat. In a fiercely physical game on Augusts 17, Joseph Nane, Sebastian Guenzatti and assistant coach, Alecko Eskandarian all got send off.
Savarese and his charges got their revenge last Saturday. The Cosmos were given an early warning by the visitors in a sloppy start to the game when Ayoze was dozing at the back and Brian Ackley slipped through the offside trap.
After eight minutes Diomar Diaz opened up the visiting back four with a fine cross from the left. Danny Szetela got on the end of Diaz´s feed and guided the ball composedly past Akira Fitzgerald. It was the prelude to an one-sided half.
The stats told the tale of the half: nine shots on target for the Cosmos to just the lone attempt by Ackley for the Railhawks; Kyle Reynish did not make single save. The Cosmos were buzzing with a very industrious Marcos Senna in the axe of the field: his two free kicks were saved by Fitzgerald. Holding a high defensive line, the Cosmos had the visitors in a stranglehold. To complete the Railhawks´ misery, and in an ironic twist of faith, their assistant coach Dewan Bader got ejected from the game.
The game got off in the second half right where it had left the Railhawks in the first half – choking at the edge of their own box. With an expert save – strategic positioning and flying suppleness – Fitzergald parried a goal bound shot from Guenzatti after 51 minutes. Three minutes later Diaz sneaked in behind the back of a lax defending Paul Hamilton and his tor instinct was rewarded with his fifth goal of the season.
Alessandro Noselli, a substitute for Guenzatti, won a penalty when felled by Henry Kalungi inside the box. Senna banged in the penalty low to Fitzgerald´s left, but referee Gonzalez ordered a retake. The youngster Fitzgerald momentarily was looked in a battle with Marcos Senna, whom he had again denied early on in the second half with another eye-catching save. But this time Fitzgerald yielded to the old sniper from Spain.
Fitzgerald was to be pitied for his agony was not at an end yet. Noselli finished a perfect evening for the Cosmos when he pounced in the box and dispatched an absolute screamer in the last minute of the game. It was a fitting finale to what undoubtedly was the Cosmos´ best performance in the league. “The team came out with the right attitude, pressuring and possessing the ball. It was the most complete game of this season so far,” assessed Savarese.
The Cosmos now sit comfortably at the top of the NASL and just need three more points from their remaining three games to secure a place in the Soccer Bowl.