So many things went well and right for the Cosmos, but securing three points. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Christian Arnold
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – If the Cosmos were scripting the perfect scenario to open up their tenure as Brooklyn’s newest professional sports team, Saturday night would have been pretty darn close.
The crowd was there, the atmosphere was there, but unfortunately for the Cosmos the result just wasn’t. They fell 3-0 to Miami FC in the team’s first game of the North American Soccer League season at MCU Park.
Saturday’s game was a minor miracle considering where the Cosmos were a few short months ago. The team was in financial disrepair and looked as though it would not survive to play another game.
Yet, just a few months later the Cosmos were pulled from the brink and on the field at their new home in Brooklyn. It was a much different atmosphere than what the team has been used to during its contentious three-year tenure at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium on Long Island.
While MCU Park, home to the New York Mets single-A affiliate the Brooklyn Cyclones, only holds 7,000 fans, the venue created a much more attractive environment for the fans. And that translated to a different game experience for the players.
“It felt different from the start,” goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer said. “It was great to see all the fans out there. The stadium felt great, it felt like a great atmosphere to play in. It was exciting to start off having this as our home field, obviously we didn’t want the result to go that way, but it was a great atmosphere.
“I was really happy to get out in front of the fans again.”
It appeared the Cosmos fans were equally as happy to have the team back as well. The team’s home opener drew 6,274 fans, which was one of the Cosmos’ largest crowds for an NASL match in quite some time.
“Being able to have this energy and the people that came, so much support it’s been fantastic,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Tonight was a great night to have our home opener in everything that happened outside the field. It was great to see how much effort was done to be able to bring the people and the energy was great, but unfortunately it was the kind of the match that our mistakes capitalized their result. It could have been a better match for sure.”
The Cosmos struggled to contain the offensively talented Miami FC team and six minutes into the second half Dylan Mares scored the opening goal of the game. Things continued to go downhill from there for the Cosmos and in the 67th minute the Miami scored again.
The visitors’ second goal of the night came after Vincenzo Rennella’s shot took a fortuitous bounce off the leg of defender Ryan Richter and went into the net. Stefano Pinho scored the third goal of the night for Miami to all but seal the win.
Miami controlled the pace of play for most of the 90-minute contest, outshooting the Cosmos 12-9 and had five shots on target while New York didn’t have a single one. Miami also blocked three shot attempts by the Cosmos.
“We’re definitely going to learn a lot [from this game],” Juan Guerra said. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them. … There were times in the game where we hurt them. We have this week to work on our strength, try to get better, watch vide, listen to the coaching staff and just learn from our mistakes.”
The Cosmos have not had a great start on the field to the spring season. They played to a 0-0 draw against Puerto Rico FC in their season opener before Saturday night’s shutout loss.
The Cosmos were also down defenseman Carlos Mendes, who suffered an injury Thursday and did not play against Miami. Savarese said Mendes will be evaluated by the team doctors Monday.
With the team nearly disbanding and then scrambling to train a month and a half before the season started, there have been some growing pains for the defending NASL Champions.
“You wish the team would grow faster, but you need time in order to be able to get to the point where you need to get,” Savarese said. “At the moment we’re still in the phase of balancing the team and making sure the team grows physically. Time is the only way that is going to help us to reach the point that we need to be.”