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May 182014
350x34 300x221 Cosmos Make Most of Chances, Defeat Rowdies 3 0

Photo Credit: GETTY


Rivalries in soccer are everything. It gets the fans interested, the players go that much harder into plays, and manager’s faces turn that just a little bit more red at blown calls. Coming into this NASL match-day weekend there was one match at the top of every supporters “to watch list:” Tampa Bay Rowdies and the New York Cosmos. Expectations were high but alas football is a difficult sport to predict. After a critical injury, the Cosmos were able to seize three quick goals and put away the Rowdies on the road by the score of 3-0.
The match started off pretty much as expected with the Cosmos putting immediately putting pressure on the Rowdies defense. The Cosmos are tied for third in the NASL with nine goals scored. The Rowdies, meanwhile, have nine goals in the spring season which is tied for third-worst in the NASL. Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman nearly gave New York the lead in the fifth minute when his shot was put squarely on target. However, Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a splendid save to keep things even.
On the other side of the pitch the Cosmos showed why they have only two goals this season by boxing out Rowdies attackers and focusing on limiting possession inside of the box. In the thirteenth minute, defender Jay Needham made an excellent pass into open space for Rowdies forward Casey Townsend with an eye towards a one-on-one with goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. However, Cosmos defender Joseph Nane was able to catch up to Townsend and force him to the outside until the Cosmos got numbers behind the ball. This was the Cosmos all night- to use their size advantage to limiting Tampa Bay’s shot opportunities.
The pivotal point in the match came in the twentieth minute when Pickens, on a goal kick appeared to suffer an upper leg injury. Pickens, who came to the Rowdies in the off-season from the Colorado Rapids of MLS, was not able to continue in the match. Without Pickens or back-up Diego Restrepo, who is out for the season with a torn achilles, Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill was forced to go with Ryan Thompson. Thompson looked very nervous and raw and not ready to play.
After the Pickens injury, the Cosmos went to their bread and butter to pick apart a wounded Rowdies defense: counter-attacks and free kicks. In the forty-seventh minute, Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna picked out forward Mads Stokkelien on the other side of the pitch delivering a cross that was right on target. Stokkelien, who was able to get in front of his defender, used his head to push the ball to the outside delivered a low shot past Thompson for the game’s first goal. It was Stokkelien’s second goal of the season.
The Cosmos would have another opportunity to add to their lead in the fiftieth minute when Thompson would make an ill-advised tackle just outside of the eighteen yard box. Cosmos defender Ayoze would then hit a low shot around the outside of the wall and just past Thompson for New York’s second goal. It was Ayoze’s second goal of the season.
New York would add to Tampa’s miseries when defender Paulo Mendes would steal the ball away from Needham, who was trying to make a pass back to Thompson. Mendes would then bury shot into the back of the net for the decisive third goal.
The Rowdies would have some opportunities late in the match to close the three goal gap. Rowdies defender Darrel Rusell hit a hammer of a shot just over the cross-bar in the seventieth off of some excellent passing by fellow midfielders Evans Frimpong and Willie Hunt. However, the Cosmos defense continued to frustrate the Rowdies attack limiting their chances to mostly outside shots and crosses into the box.
With the win the Cosmos (4-0-2, 12 points) moved to within three points of first-place Minnesota United F.C. With three games remaining they still have a chance at least a share of the Spring Season NASL title. They will next play the Indy Eleven on Saturday night at 7pm. The match will be shown on One World Sports.
What will be interesting to see is what sort of lineup Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese comes up with as the club will be looking to win the spring NASL title and be playing possibly two U.S. Open Cup matches. Should the club win against the Brooklyn Italians of the NPSL, they will have a match against the New York Red Bulls of MLS.
For the Tampa Bay Rowdies (1-3-2,) Saturday’s loss was just another difficult result in what has been a difficult spring season. With players like Pickens, Townsend, Russell, and defender Anthony Wallace being added so late in the preseason perhaps the club will do better in the fall season with additional time to develop chemistry. Their next match will be on Saturday at 7:30 pm when they will host their rivals in the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

New York Cosmos- Jimmy Maurer, Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, Roversio, Ayoze, David Diosa (Hunter Gorskie 77’,) Sebastian Guenzatti (Stefan Dimitriov 82’,) Joseph Nane (Dane Murphy 62’,) Marcos Senna, Mads Stokkelien, and Paulo Mendes

Goals: Stokkelien (47’,) Ayoze (51’,) and P. Mendes (62’)
Yellow Cards: P. Mendes (37’)

Tampa Bay Rowdies- Matt Pickens (Ryan Thompson 24’,) Anthony Wallace, Jay Needham, Frank Sanfilippo, Willie Hunt, Darel Russell, Shane Hill (Evans Frimpong 58’,) Christophe Lallet (Lucky Mkosana 58’,) Georgi Hristov, and Casey Townsend.
Yellow Cards- Hristov (18’,) Thompson (49’,) Mkosana (74’) and Dimitriov (86’)


Sean Maslin

Writer for Global Football Today, Soccerly, D.C. Soccer, Soccer Without Limits, and Blatter's Blotter. Lifetime D.C. United, Newcastle United, and Washington Warthog fan. Can be reached at @SeanMaslin on twitter or at

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